[Warning: This review goes all over the place…]
[Note:Feel free to read my previous post (and ALL the comments) concerning my expectations on Rogue One here.]
Well, I finally saw Star Wars – Rogue One. My buddy Chris was so incensed that I’m not the biggest fan of the franchise, he insisted on buying my ticket when it came to my home town theater. Uncharacteristically… he was late so I’m not sure if he paid for my ticket or not. The ticket-lady said she would hit him up for it. (He did buy me a Rogue One T-Shirt though). Chris also got ill (cold or flu) right after that night. Thank goodness I didn’t catch it or I would have had to dock the movie a point. 🙂
But I digress…
OK… Rogue One is the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. 🙂 But that’s not a fair statement given my opinion of all the movies since Empire Strikes Back. Rogue One could have been “meh” and still have been the best movie since ESB.
So let me further say that Rogue One was a pleasant surprise. It was actually a good movie. A seven… maybe seven and a half… I’ll have to digest it a bit more. But by my standards, seven is pretty good. (See my rating system here) I don’t see more than one or sometimes two movies of that caliber a year. But then I’m pretty picky with the movies I go see. If I go to a movie theater more than six times a year, I’d be surprised. Usually I just wait to see it at home and usually, that’s the right decision given the quality of movies over the last decade.
But I digress…
Rogue One was a good movie. The character development was pretty good if not a bit rushed because of the number of characters they had to get through. I thought the story flowed pretty well and I liked the premise. Bringing back a lot of characters (big and small) worked because the big ones were crucial to the plot and the not so big ones were used only for nostalgia, and oh-that-was-neat purposes.
[Real Spoiler Here] Chris suspected (correctly) that I would really like the movie based on one major aspect of the plot. Everybody dies… It seems to be no coincidence that my favorite movies are the likes of “Blade Runner” and “Braveheart”; which have bittersweet endings. It’s easy to have a ship swoop in and save the heroes at the last second (which Rogue One could have done). It also adds to the possibility of sequels… but I admire a production that can say… the story is over for these characters.
Side Track – Blade Runner
In a side note, my one and only complaint concerning “Blade Runner” (my favorite movie) is the closing narration of Deckard (main character) concerning Rachael (love interest). It was a slight cop-out to the tendency to soften the blow of the ending.
The main motivation of the bad guys is to live longer (beyond genetically programed termination dates). It is the whole reason they come to Earth, to see their creator (Dr Tyrell) and demand more life. When the main bad guy (Roy) meets his creator he is informed there is nothing to be done. It is scientifically not possible… BUT… we’re informed it was done… for the love interest (Rachael) at the end of the movie for the sake of a softer ending…
Deckard: [narrating] Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special. No termination date. I didn’t know how long we had together… Who does?
Here is how the movie should have ended.
Deckard: [narrating] Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured.
He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special. No termination date. I didn’t know how long we had together… Who does?
But I digress…
Rogue One, goes to prove that the franchise could in fact be saved, if only Disney can get away from the idiocy ingrained into the over-all story by Lucas (cough Midichlorians). This would involve concentrating on good writing at the expense of interjecting social commentary/guidance and other horrible story line mistakes. Rogue One had only a smidgen of that stuff, and overall proves it’s possible. Can Disney continue along this path? I doubt it.
Which bring me to the one complaint that I have… which really has little to do with the story itself. I saw an interview with the two actors of the main characters and the whole thing was about “diversity”; meaning Disney checked off a whole lot of boxes concerning various races, genders, and chosen/perceived genders.
Whooops… I didn’t see any trans characters (unless I’m totally blind). I would (sarcastically) recommend protests and riots over that fact, but some idiots might actually follow through with that. So let’s give them another movie or two to correct this oversight… and let’s not forget about polygamist and robo-sexuals.
I bring this up only because it was no accident that these two actors droned on and on about the diversity of the film (above and beyond and superior to previous Star Wars films – their sentiments, not mine). This was the image and message Disney wanted to push and I guarantee you the actors were coached in exactly how to do this.
They Just Can’t Help Themselves:
So, in the spirit of the diversity check list, Disney (being a leftist company) could not help but introduce two gay characters. (Star Trek did the same with the character Sulu recently.) They (Hollywood) can’t help but ram that crap down our throats as a service to society. But I digress… Disney, was at least as subtle about it as they could be and I appreciate that. I assume the mugging (as in massive passionate kissing) scene is on the cutting room floor, or perhaps it never existed. Either way… I’m grateful. I guess, I even question if I would have caught it (the two gay characters), if I were not expecting it… (I think I would have… but at least that question does enter my mind.)
Where Rogue One Really Succeeds – Subtlety:
One major flaw of the franchise is that everything/everybody is related, either genetically or by coincidence. It’s taking the “I am your father” thing and going nuts with it. Vader is Luke’s father and Lea is the daughter/sister. You’ve now reached the limit of plausible associations… any sane director/producer would go no further. (I’m talking to you, Lucas.)
- A Couple of Examples of Franchise Failures:
- C3PO was the droid of young Anakin Skywalker. Why? It adds nothing to the story. I’s too much of a coincidence… and it’s stupid.
- It turns out that Chewbaca fought with Yoda… and became friends with Luke… who later trained under Yoda… again, stupid… Knock yourself out, throw some wookies in there (the movie)… just not Chewbacca (or even related to Chewbacca)
- And what do you want to bet Rey (from The Force Awakens) isn’t just some random girl who happens to be gifted with the force… What do you want to bet she’s related (literally) to the Skywalker line.
To the point of Rogue One… they did this too, BUT on much more subtler scale and in a non-plot-exploding manner.
- A Couple of Examples of Rogue One Successes:
- Jyn literally bumps into the two ruffians later encounter by Luke and Obi Wan in the bar scene. Nostalgic, neat… and the plot moves on three seconds later.
- We see R2D2 and C3PO on a rebel base (and… that’s it). It’s even logical that they would be there.
- The Red and Gold leader pilots lead the attack on the planet Scarif, later attack the Death Star… again, nostalgic, neat, but more importantly logical that they would be there.
Of course there were also main characters brought back (via CGI), but again… it was logical and key to the plot… versus what we’ve seen in past films.
On the subject of returning characters, it is amazing how they brought them back long after the actors have died or aged. This will open up whole new possibilities of longevity for characters and legal questions when companies buy not just the actor’s services, but their likeness in perpetuity.
But I digress…
In conclusion, Rogue One was a refreshing departure from the train wreck of the prequels and even better than the not-that-bad awakening. Do I still need convincing? Am I still the figurative (maybe literal) crazy old man yellin’ from his porch? Oh yeah…
But if I dig deep down, way past the decades of disappointment… What has Rogue One given me (and many others). Exactly what Princess Lea exclaimed in the last line of the movie… “Hope”. 🙂