This past weekend I saw Rogue One with my roommate. On leaving the theater, I realized that I had been waiting forty years for this film.
A while back I wrote a review of The Force Awakens which I called The Force Grows Up. In that review I say that I felt that it was the first film that dealt with the theology of the Force in an adult manner.
Rogue One is, I believe, the first Star Wars film that dealt with war in an adult manner.
A New Hope, (the film that I will always think of as simply Star Wars) made a promise to the audience. Not in the story, which was fairly simple and predictable, but in the style of the film. The sets and costuming and special effects all said that Science Fiction was something to be taken seriously.
The next film, The Empire Strikes Back, broke that promise. I had been expecting a film that could stand alongside serious films marketed by and for adults. Instead I got a two hour toy commercial. In fact my disappointment with that film was so great that it turned me off science fiction entirely for years. Instead I concentrated on horror and mystery. I read a lot of Stephen King and Joseph Wambaugh in those days.
I didn’t even bother to see The
Revenge Return Of The Jedi in theaters. I saw it eventually at a friend’s house on one of these enormous VCRs and bit my tongue a lot. Ewoks? Seriously?
I won’t say that I gave up entirely on science fiction films. There were a few gems out there. Dark City. They Live. Bladerunner. Alien. In general, though, I learned that a film that was marketed as Science Fiction was likely to be a children’s movie. It may have some stapled on sex and violence to bump the MPAA rating, but in general “In Space” was shorthand for “For Kids”.
Which is fine, if you happen to be a kid.
In Rogue One I finally found the Star Wars movie that I have been waiting for.
I’m not going to give it a full review–that’ll wait, since I want to see it in the theaters at least once more before I render a full judgement.
However, I do want to say that this movie affected me as strongly as Saving Private Ryan or Inglorious Basterds. This isn’t a cute aliens and cool toys tie-in movie, this is a grown up war movie that happens to be set in outer space.