Sunday, January 8, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dinner and a Movie

By Steve Herte

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm/Disney, 2016) – Director: Gareth Edwards. Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy (s/p). John Knoll, Gary Whitta (story). George Lucas (characters). Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, Forest Whittaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Valene Kane, Anthony Daniels, Jimmy Vee, Alastair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, Ben Daniels, Dolly Gadsdon, Beau Gadsdon, & Paul Kasey. Color, Rated PG-13, 133 minutes.

Back in 1977, I became a Star Wars fan. I collected the action figures as they were available and I read “Bantha Tracks,” the fan club newsletter. Six movies later I began to become jaded. What new creatures, what new effects, what new anything could Star Wars impress me with? I tried not to have any preconceptions of this film but the trailers only promised more of what I’d already seen, and, for the most part, that was true.

Similar to Episode 4, A New Hope, this movie starts with a strangely barren planet, not a desert planet like Tattooine, but remote and unpeopled. An Imperial ship skims the horizon of Lah’Mu and heads for a farm (yes, the only green spot on the world – don’t ask me why) run by Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) and his wife Lyra (Kane) and tended by their daughter, Jyn Erso (Dolly & Beau Gadsdon). Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn) and a few robotic Stormtroopers debark and command Galen to come with them and build the future planet-exterminating Death Star. Galen knew they would come and had instructed Jyn on where to hide and how to escape. Lyra is not so lucky. She’s killed by a blast from one of the robots. Rather than cause any more trouble, Galen goes.

Jyn (now Felicity Jones) essentially spends the remainder of the first hour of the movie either captured in a cell or on the run until she becomes a part of an unlikely team with Cassian Andor (Luna), a rebel who feels Galen betrayed the cause; K-2SO (Tudyk), a seven-foot-tall Imperial droid who has been reprogrammed by the resistance; Chirrut Îmwe (Yen), a blind believer in The Force; and his best friend Baze Malbus (Jiang). They seek out Bodhi Rook (Ahmed), a pilot who has a secret message from Galen. But Bodhi has been captured by Saw Gerrera (Whitaker), a tough, but aging leader of the resistance, and is now on planet Jedha. The holographic communique tells of a flaw intentionally built into the design of the Death Star which, when neutralized, will destroy the entire weapon.

Unfortunately the Death Star needs a testing and the target is Jedha City, the capital of the planet of the same name and the message source is destroyed along with everything and almost everyone on that side of the planet. Jyn and her crew escape and must convince the Rebel Council on Yavin 4 of the need to attack the Imperial stronghold on the planet Scarif to steal the Death Star blueprints and gain the advantage for the Rebel Alliance. The council doesn’t believe her and thinks it’s too risky. She and her “team” steal an Imperial cargo shuttle that soon becomes known as “Rogue One.”

Are you still with me? I know. I nearly fell asleep in the first hour. But I stuck it out. Granted there were no new special effects and only one new creature who looked like a giant fake octopus, but there were surprises in the cast. Peter Cushing was remarkably replaced as Grand Moff Tarkin by Guy Henry. I had to look twice. And it was good to see Jimmy Smits reprising his role as Bail Organa, Princess Leia’s father. The head of the Rebel Council, Mon Mothma, was again ably and regally played by Genevieve O’Reilly and we got to see cameos of C-3PO (Daniels) and R2-D2 (Vee). The part of Darth Vader took three actors this time, Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous for the character and, of course James Earl Jones for the voice. But the biggest surprise was Ingvild Deila as Princess Leia. I was convinced it was Carrie Fisher.

The musical soundtrack, which will almost certainly be nominated for an Oscar, had me convinced that John Williams was still at the helm. But it was Michael Giacchino. Still, the same glorious and powerful orchestrations (without, mind you, repeating the Star Wars Theme).

At two hours and 14 minutes, the film could have been shortened and the story would be intact, especially the sleepy first hour. It’s not until halfway through the second hour that the title comes in. The best scene is the climax of the battle over Scarif when Admiral Raddus (Kasey) of the Mon Calamari (yes, they are evolved from squids) sends a Hammerhead ship against a disabled Imperial Battle cruiser. Other than that, everything is familiar to fans.

The good part of Rogue One is that it neatly ties Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith to Episode 4 A New Hope. In fact, if you didn’t get the idea, the word “hope” is the most used word in the dialogue. It was an interesting film and I’m glad I waited for the crowds to thin. But I’m looking forward to Episode 8.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Martini glasses.

56 Beaver St.New York

2017 is the year Delmonico’s celebrates 180 years of serving fine steaks with Italian flare. When you talk of chicken a la king, lobster Newburg, eggs Benedict, Delmonico steak or baked Alaska, this is the source you’re referring to.

When my lovely lady arrived, she ordered a Kir Royale. We toasted the New Year and friendship, and explored the menu together. Frane listed the specials and we both agreed on the New England seafood chowder. It was not white like New England clam chowder but had a tangerine tint to it and was full of vegetables and tender fish. I gathered that the color might have been from paprika. We both enjoyed it.

Next, we split an order of living greens salad (leaf lettuce in a tangy, creamy dressing). The sliced radishes and red onions added a holiday touch to the various greens, all crisp and fresh. At this point my lady switched to a glass of Pinot Grigio and I had a glass of chardonnay. Another server brought a silver basket of hot, fresh-baked rolls and a silver ramekin of butter.

I’m always surprised when I hear that someone has never tasted lobster. When she expressed an interest, I suggested lobster Newburg served with broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes. After a brief lesson in how to extract the meat (the shells were all pre-cracked and ready to eat), I think she loved it. She didn’t even offer me a taste.

I ordered the filet mignon with bleu cheese topping and a side of bacon fried rice with a glass of cabernet sauvignon. Every time I dine at Delmonico’s the food improves and this steak was perfection: almost two inches high, perfectly seared on the outside and beautifully rare and juicy on the inside. The side dish was not as bacon-y as I might have expected, but it was still moist and delicious with bits of fried egg and shredded carrots.

Again, I heard “I’ve never had…” and the classic baked Alaska – walnut cake, apricot jam, banana gelato, and meringue created by Charles Ranhofer in 1867 – was ordered. The meringue puffs were artfully singed and the apricot jam was formed like planets orbiting a white sun on the plate. I chose the chocolate raspberry fondant – dark chocolate ganache and raspberry ice cream. The alternating sweet and sour made it an exciting dessert.

We both had tea after dessert, she a peppermint and myself Earl Grey. We weren't overly full nor hungry. Just happy. Delmonico’s proved itself once again as a great way to ring out the old year. 

For the Dinner and a Movie archive, click here.

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