Rogue One: The Second-Best Star Wars Movie

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If you’re a Star Wars fan, then you’ve seen Rogue One, the latest film in the franchise and a sort of standalone movie. (If you’re a Star Wars fan and have NOT seen Rogue One, then you’re not a fan — sorry.)

I went into the viewing with low expectations. Why the hell would they make a standalone film? Money, of course. Disney is milking their cash cow. Fine, that’s their right.

My low expectations were totally wrong. For me, Rogue One was the second best of all the Star Wars movies. It was expertly plotted, with a sharp cast who were all believable. Rogue rogue-one-3one managed to capture the slightly dated atmosphere of the originals while keeping a modern tone. The action was very well paced, and the special effects took a backseat to storytelling.

There were two action sequences that I found unbelievable. One involved inhuman jumping. The other, holding on for life in the pouring rain. Both impossible! But for an action film, such is expected.

Other than that, it was fun as hell. We also got Darth Vader and Princess Leia! I’m not complaining.

So here’s my list of the top Star Wars films so far:

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  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Rogue One
  3. A New Hope
  4. The Force Awakens
  5. Return of the Jedi

Oh, and I’m not including the prequel trilogy. I like to pretend those crappy movies never existed.

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Catching Fire stays true to the word

Hey Hollywood, this is how you adapt a novel for film.

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For some reason, the movie industry has a hard time translating sci-fi/supernatural/speculative stories from the page to the screen. Exhibit A: Anne Rice‘s Interview With the Vampire and Queen of the Damned. Exhibit B: Anything by Stephen King (except maybe for Carrie).

They got it right with Catching Fire, the second novel in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series. (The official movie title is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Too long.)

The books aren’t perfect, but they’re great. And the movie effectively conveys all that happens in the book at a quick pace.

First, a primer: The Hunger Games series is about 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen in a futuristic dystopic North America who is selected to compete in the annual Hunger Games, which pits 24 teens in a fight to the death (see the Japanese filmĀ Battle Royale). The 3 novels follow her battles against the oppressive government.

Katniss is my favorite type of hero: an every man/woman who is thrust into danger and is forced to rise to the occasion. She remains reluctant throughout the series, a central fact that Jennifer Lawrence has captured. In the books, Katniss develops PTSD (Collins stated in interviews that she wanted to write about the traumatic effects of war on children), and luckily the movie did not shy away from this topic.

As with the novel, the movie picks up right where the first novel/movie left off, and it churns through with a cliffhanger. Catching Fire has been compared to The Empire Strikes Back, and with good reason: it’s tough and sharp and has a tight narrative core. And it is often a downer.

But it works. It is a solid addition to the speculative film canon. The third book will be broken into two movies, which is good because there’s a whole lot of story to tell.

How much you want to bet we’ll be seeing spin-offs for years to come? After all, there have been 75 Hunger Games, and we’ve only seen two.