Collateral Beauty film

STAR WARS and Talking to Ghosts: December 16's New Movies

Friday, December 16, 2016 Rob Samuelson

If you’re going to the movies this weekend, you know what you’re going to see. No need in delaying it. Let’s check it out.

Photo credit: Star Wars/Facebook

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed

There you go. It’s Star Wars. You’re seeing it. I’m seeing it. It looks really, really cool. After decades of novels, comics, video games, animated series, and more, Rogue One is the first Disney and Lucasfilm attempt to expand the Star Wars universe beyond the Skywalker family on the big screen. In this military caper story, a group of Rebel Alliance soldiers, led by Oscar nominee Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), must steal the plans for the Death Star from the first movie that came out in 1977. Given how that movie’s events played out, we know that these heroes will find success, but the brilliant storytelling decision being made here (one that was ignored for the prequel films of the series) is that we don’t know any of these characters. They don’t show up in any other movies. If they are well written and we grow to care about them, we can root for them and worry about their safety with every death defying stunt. That’s awesome. And it was directed by Monsters and Godzilla filmmaker Gareth Edwards, whose sense of scale and creature design is off the charts. He’s an excellent choice to kick off this side series of movies.

Collateral Beauty
Director: David Frankel
Writer: Allan Loeb
Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Michael Peña, Helen Mirren, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley

And here’s the counterprogramming option for those rare people who don’t care about Star Wars. Unfortunately for you poor souls, you get this, which looks like garbage. Will Smith talks to concepts (Helen Mirren plays Death, Keira Knightley is Love, etc.) because he’s sad. That’s a fine premise, but each time I’ve seen this trailer before a movie in the last couple months, the other people in the theater shift uncomfortably in their seats, laugh nervously, and scoff aloud. It’s the kind of trailer where the emotions relating to “finding yourself” are supercharged to the point where everything is terrible. Perhaps the movie is a little less treacly, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I’m sorry. You may want to binge watch something on TV this weekend if you’re not into the “In a galaxy far, far away” thing.

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