Saturday, 24 December 2016


All the artistic integrity in the galaxy can't save a filmmaker from the studio machine. Gareth Edwards knows this all too well, I assume, though as long as they're willing to exploit his idiosyncratic intentions to their advantage, he's willing to allow his artistry these rapidly accumulating opportunities to flourish. There's much too much in Rogue One for Edwards to oversee, and the film is another show of directorial excellence undercut by a fussy lack of focus. As a Star Wars 'story,' it's lacking in magic and majesty, the jobsworth's project whose principal concern is getting the narrative from A to Z, predestined points on a remarkably coherent timeline. Rogue One has no need for the extravagance that both buoyed and blighted the Star Wars prequels, and nor does Edwards - his style is seductive though never embracing, its delights in seeing and never engaging, with a boisterous edit reigning in his aesthetic flair. If that's mostly what this film has in its favour, and thus the attribute without which it utterly cannot do, count your blessings: Rogue One may not hang around long enough to let its finer qualities settle in adequately, but the brevity of their presentation keeps the appetite ever un-whetted until its final payoff. And that sense of predestination, engendering a modesty and a reticence toward world-building that are in too short supply elsewhere in this mega-franchise, means no mistakes left untended, no questions unanswered, no loose threads left dangling. Edwards may still struggle to release the full force of his artistic intentions in the big-budget arena, but his determined efficiency is a perfect fit for a story about a mission to get a good job done at any cost, and those intentions half-realized yet produce the most stylistically satisfying Star Wars movie to date.

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