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The Old Guard

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Poster for the movie "The Old Guard"

The Old Guard

Forever is harder than it looks

20202 h 04 min

Ok, so The Old Guard wasn’t a bad movie. Its fatal flaw is that it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. Is this an action movie? Kind of. Is it a superhero movie? Sort of, but not really. This movie is trying to do a half dozen different things at once and pulls itself in so many different directions it never really accomplishes any of them. The audience is bombarded with tropes and clichés in every sense. From the dialogue to plot structure it feels like everything is…not half-assed, but just running on low battery life.

Now granted, I have not read the comic book The Old Guard was based on. I can’t comment on how much (if anything) they changed for the movie. But if it’s like most movie adaptions, stuff probably got left out.

I mean, I didn’t think any of the actors were bad. They were all clearly trying their best. But when you take someone like Charlize Theron and cast them as the lead, your audience is going to be picturing a high bar. We know that she can portray a total badass from films like Fury Road and Atomic Blonde. And that level of awesome just doesn’t happen in The Old Guard.

Now I will say that the action scenes are fairly well done. The gunfights are realistic, and the hand-to-hand combat was choreographed amazingly. Not to mention how well it was all edited together. None of that shaky camera work where you can’t tell what the heck is going on (I’m looking at you, The Expendables). But as cool as the action sequences were, it can’t make up for everything else the film is lacking. Cause that’s really what The Old Guard did wrong. It’s not so much an issue of “what’s there is bad”, it’s an issue of “what isn’t there”.

Think about any truly great action movie. Terminator 2, Kill Bill, Aliens, take your pick. Are the action sequences awesome? Of course they are! Is that what people remember the most about those movies? No, usually not. Now there are exceptions like The Bride slaughtering her way through an army of mooks at the end of the first Kill Bill. But that is an exception, not a rule. We remember things like the young John Conner bonding with the good Terminator. Or Ripley hopping into the mecha suit to save the little girl from the Alien Queen. We remember the characters being people. Doing the right thing for the sake of what’s good or just acting like genuine human beings. Going through some kind of personal, emotional struggle on top of the physical turmoil. Things that feel real.

The Old Guard tries to do this, but how relatable are immortals? The whole thing about immortals in any story involving them is that they’re removed from society. The fact that everyone else ages and dies makes them forever outcasts. It’s hard to relate to a character like that. They’ve got their own little happy band, but they function alone. And it doesn’t seem like they get all that much character development to get away from that throughout the film. It’s frustrating because The Old Guard is almost a great movie. The ideas were there, but the execution fell short.

September 27, 2020

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Poster for the movie ""

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A Rebellion Built on Hope

20162 h 14 min

Rogue One is a type of story previously confined to Expanded Universe novels taken to the big screen. This is not a story of great heroes capable of feats beyond normal people. These are the normal people. They are the soldiers, spies, and other rebels who spent years fighting the Empire. The original trilogy is certainly an epic story with Luke and co. being the center of many turning points for the Rebel Alliance. But it is important to remember that they did not act alone. Smaller acts previously confined to briefly mentioned exposition now get their own moment in the spotlight.

The opening crawl of A New Hope mentions that a secret Rebel fleet stole the plans to the Death Star. Likewise, the original movie mentions that the team who stole the plans died in the process. So it is not secret what this movie will be about or how it will end. Now the story does start out slow as the character introductions are made. The main characters may not be the A-team, but they are some of the best the Rebels have to offer. It is somewhat hard to judge the characters individually when they are, by and large, inconsequential. They are not the heroes of the story as a whole, just this one small piece.

Some people have said that this is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. While Rogue One is a good movie, it is not even close to that. If anything Rogue One did very well because it is unique. The other films are more epics, adventure stories, than anything else. Take the original movie, for example. A black knight captures a princess, who sends her servants to an old knight for help only to find aid in the unlikeliest of people, a farm boy and a scruffy looking scoundrel. From the big evil Empire to the storming of a fortress, the story had tons in common with old medieval type tales.

Rogue One, by contrast, is a war movie. The film shows a darker side of the Rebellion and a (comparatively) more human side of the Empire. These people are doing somewhat questionable things and sacrificing themselves for a cause they believe in. Are these characters on par with Luke, Han, and Leia? No. Are they supposed to be? Again, no. Rogue One is a back story; it is not meant to be at the forefront. And while the film in and of itself is somewhat lacking, fans who have read the books and seen other pieces of the Expanded Universe will know the “missing” pieces are out there.

December 25, 2016