Welcome to Monday with Mildred!
WARNING: There’s information near the end you may not want to read, as it’s spoilery.
The more often you go to the movies, the greater the chance you’ll see a film that becomes a timeless classic. That happened to me in 1977, though I never became one of the huge fans who watch all things Star Wars, even the animated stuff, and detests Star Trek out of loyalty. I love the first movie, and nothing that followed quite rose to the original until the franchise went back to that exact timeline and expanded the story in 2016.
As with all the other Star Wars films Rogue One is only okay as a fiction with a straightforward action tale, stunted romantic angle and awkward plot holes. The acting is nothing to brag about, the story line is simple minded, and it’s awfully hard to watch a whole series of movies that make women nothing better than rare side characters and baby mamas. Nevertheless, Rogue One astonished me, made me laugh, and cry, and would have caught a few whoops if I’d been alone. The woman down the row from me had to take out a Kleenex, which wasn’t surprising because we were about the same age. Revisiting a timeless classic decades later will do that to you.
The nostalgia club hit us hard because we are living in a science fiction age, where directors no longer need living actors to make movies. When Grand Moff Tarkin turns around and it really IS Peter Cushing – who died in 1994 – I got a second jaw dropping science fiction moment from a Star Wars film. Not fictional science fiction, but real life science fiction. Consider what that woman and I have lived through to make this more than a “hey, that’s cool” moment. When we were kids, just making a long distance telephone call could distress an entire household and it was a few more years before color tv was a thing. A decade after that, on a trip home from college, I went with my family to see an amazing new film called Star Wars. Technically, it was the most incredible thing anyone had seen. The science fictional stuff didn’t look like Sunday morning comics cutouts, the people were multi-species and everything looked grungy and used instead of pastel new. The big stunner was near the end of the film, where director George Lucas had more than SIXTY fighters zooming around the screen at once during the climactic melee, and people, he did it all on FILM.
Using computer generated actors (CG actors –great, we need even more new terms) is something my science fiction writer friends and I used to chit chat about more than thirty years ago. We knew it would happen, just not so soon. And there were some things that didn’t occur to us, like, who gets paid for CG acting? It’s an easy question for the Cushing estate because he’s been gone so long, but what about Carrie Fisher? She was still alive when the movie came out, which makes the money thing a little murky with her estate. And what about actors who are alive now who maybe don’t want to appear in films after their death, or at least want to have some say about what they’ll be in? What if Brad and Angelina don’t EVER want to be together again?
POSSIBLY SPOILERY The CG actors weren’t the first time we’ve seen this kind of thing. There’s Gollum from Lord of the Rings, Benjamin Button, and a few deceased actors in tv commercials. But the technology is so scary good that I thought Mon Mothma was CG. (turns out she’s a look-alike actress). CG Cushing was heftier than RL (real life) Cushing, who was a frail looking fellow, and though it was close the facial movements weren’t quite right. Something else us writers didn’t think of is, what happens if the director misses the mark? Giving the actor their character motivation is an important job for the director, but what if the director gives the CG actor a bad read? Gareth Edwards demonstrated this unforeseen shortcoming in the very last scene of Rogue One. A door opens onto the bridge of a familiar ship and there stands a white clad woman, who turns around and damned if it isn’t CG Carrie Fisher! She delivers her one line and I’m surprised I didn’t hear groans from the audience because it was completely wrong. After the frenetically murderous events of Rogue One and the precarious position she and her shipmates are in at that moment, I don’t think a bubbly adolescent optimism works. We still need live actors, which makes me happy. END POSSIBLY SPOILERY
Still, I’m looking forward to some awesome CG pairings in the future, like Kathrine Hepburn and Ellen DeGeneres, or Humphrey Bogart and Jason Statham, or Buster Keaton and Pee Wee Herman. Rogue One is an exciting movie with enough nostalgic easter eggs to make your head spin with an added bonus of being yet another technologically super innovative feature. This is a must see and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer #2 (Official)
CFR: In Addition: I’m really glad Mildred wrote this review. I’ve been behind and wanted to write about Rogue One. I enjoyed it. I thought it had some story telling problems, however, the last 5 minutes of the movie ROCK!! I was cheering and jumping up and down in my seat when I first saw it. Still makes me smile when I think about it.
I was bothered by the use of “men” when “men and women” or “people” would have worked. Also odd that there was really only one woman in the movie. Huh. Other than that, I loved the many PoC helped make it extra awesome.
In short: Go See It!