Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Ummm… What did I just watch?

I can’t recall being this disappointed in a film in quite some time. I almost don’t know the words to say, without spoiling anything.

Let’s start with something else. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child continues to be a smash hit on the West End, but for many who read the script, it came across as a bastardization of the Harry Potter series. It featured a lot of the characters we’d grown to love, but then forced them into a tale that wasn’t good enough to justify its own existence. For many of the books’ loyal followers, it served as little more than a well-intentioned, treasonous mess.

Before you dismiss my opinion as an originalist rant (or something), there was a lot of good in this film. There were times where I really enjoyed it. I just can’t say those good times were even remotely offset by the offensively bad mistakes made in the storytelling.

I will list those in detail in white ink below, but let’s get to the spoiler-free material. Rogue One is about a group of Rebels who plot to steal the plans to the Galactic Empire’s planet-killing Death Star. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of the man who designed it, however reluctantly he may have done so. It is suggested that there is a fatal flaw in the weapon, one that will be exploited by Luke Skywalker in Episode IV, and the plans will reveal that flaw.

The other Star Wars films, easily classified as space operas, seem nuanced when compared to this. So many of the lines, no characters being spared, are overacted and overwrought, to the point where I was almost embarrassed to like it. (I didn’t know that Sith Lords could be punny.)

Not only that, but the story is all over the place. The first fifteen minutes alone bounce around the galaxy at an almost dizzying rate, trying to set up a world of information to be used later—and that’s not to mention the jarring lack of a title crawl. Every so often, a back-and-forth scene will try to ramp up the tension, only to resort to the same tricks it’s used before. There are so many characters vying for your sympathy, you might find it hard to care much for any of them.

I had a similar problem with director Gareth Edwards’ previous film, Godzilla, which I found to be epic in scale but lacking in human presence. If we were made to just admire the images, it would be an excellent film, but I just found it hard to care much for a bundle of newcomers that might not be in the next films for a reason. I kept asking myself, “What’s the point?” and I couldn’t always come up with an answer.

On the bright side, though, there were some really excellent moments. The space battle over Scarif just might be the best of the entire saga, and the Imperial Star Destroyers are clearly models (that’s a good thing, believe it or not). Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO is a great, dry comic relief. It’s clear that a lot of care was put into recreating the universe of the original trilogy, especially as they fit the end of this film into those ones for continuity.

But alas, I was left disappointed. I was expecting another Force Awakens, but that film was new and exciting and uncharted. This one is terminal, an exercise in explosive futility. I almost felt cheated by the experience, and I really hate to say that. This was supposed to be so good.

If we are to be cursed children, which I’m afraid will happen, may the Force be with us all.

2.5 Yellow

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now.

And now, for the SPOILERS…

Did you hear that? I think it was the sound of Peter Cushing rolling over in his grave. Given that they could make alien creatures look photorealistic, I don’t understand how Grand Moff Tarkin could look so animated. The same goes for Princess Leia.

Also, if the entire film had been Darth Vader killing people like he did at the end, it would have been a great movie. Otherwise, Vader was pretty lame for this whole movie. I want Angry Vader all the time.

Why weren’t a lot of the scenes from the trailers in the movie? It’s more than just cutting-room floor business; these seemed like pretty critical plot points that got shifted (in reshoots?). They used to carry the data across the beach, and Jyn used to find a rising TIE Fighter at the end of the platform. And the rodent man was supposed to laugh from the gun ship.

Why did I never consider that Kyber crystals could be what powered the Death Star? And speaking of the Death Star, I almost rolled my eyes any time that Krennic was onscreen. Ben Mendelsohn is a great actor, but talk about chewing the scenery.

I had so many more thoughts that I’ve just now forgotten. They’ll come to me, I’m sure, and then I’ll be grateful I didn’t keep adding them.

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One thought on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

  1. Pingback: New Light – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | The Stoplight

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