Rogue One: A Hardened Battle Story or a Soulless Masquerade?

I have issues with Rogue One.  And apparently I have issues completely different from everyone else.

Get ready for a doozy of a review.

My main issue is: I’m not sure I liked the movie.  I keep telling myself that’s okay, and I don’t like AOTC much either, but it’s still weird to realize that I don’t like a Star Wars movie.

The two standout reasons for being disgruntled with the film were:

  1. I did not like Jyn Erso, and
  2. I did not like the cameos of Darth Vader and Princess Leia

I found Jyn to be boring.  Disney and Kathleen Kennedy are doing a great job bringing female protagonists front and center and I really admire them for it.  The whole problem with Jyn is that I don’t believe in her cause.  In fact, did she really have a cause?  Sure, once she saw

This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.
This is the same facial expression I had for the entire movie.

the hologram of her dad, she became part of a larger fight (the Rebellion), but I’m not sure I believed her.  Her motivational speech to the Alliance fell flat to me and left me wishing for William Wallace to give her some lessons.

I’m not sure where the writers were going with her character.  I felt like we never really “knew” Jyn.  We were given a little bit of background info on her, her parents, family, and that she knew Saw…but it was so small that it hardly led me to believe that she would all of a sudden become gung ho about the Rebellion.

It also seemed like they wanted to make her a “tough girl”.  I love tough girls.  But tough girls that go haywire at the slightest provocation make me roll my eyes.  Why did she beat up everyone when the Imperial transport was stopped and she was rescued?  Further, if you are going to make her a tough girl and you want to stick with that – why did you have Cassian come in and save the day at the very end?  The entire movie was trying to make Jyn seem independent and tough but I never got to see her independence.  Sure, the point of the movie was this was a team job, but it would have been nice to have ONE MOMENT where Jyn shone without anyone else backing her up.

I can’t remember one line from Jyn because everything she said was unmemorable.  And bland.  And meh.

As for the cameos – I thought both Darth Vader and Princess Leia were unnecessary.  Darth Vader’s spa retreat on Mustafar was weird and do you really think he would have time for weazily little Directors like Krennic?  Even if Krennic is in charge of the Death Star?  No.  Or, if he did want to see Krennic, do you think he would call Krennic to his private sanctuary on Mustafar?  (Please realize I have no problems with Darth Vader having his home on Mustafar and it’s been hinted at before with canon material)

Further, the end scene when Darth Vader kicks some butt is cool.  I agree.  However, it kind of messes up ANH a little bit which irked me.  darth-vader-rogue-oneVader watches the Tantive IV disappear into the galaxy, yet Princess Leia has the nerve to say she’s on a “diplomatic mission to Alderaan”, when they are captured.  Even though we all know she is lying in ANH, now it seems slightly more ridiculous, and on top of that all her statements of being a member of the Imperial Senate makes me wonder…well why were you at Scarif?  Because now we all know she was at Scarif and it’s so RANDOM.  It wasn’t played right.  But okay, I could argue that was minor tweaking of the plot and only something devout fans would recognize.  (It’s not as bad as Leia claiming she remembers her mother, but Padmé dies in childbirth.)

Seeing how Darth Vader was used, I believe it should have been one scene or the other, and even though I have all those issues with the last scene – I would have preferred that scene of Vader kept in the movie versus the Mustafar spa retreat.

Actually, personally, truth speak – I would rather Vader and Leia not be in the movie at all.  I think the movie would have been stronger without them and that Disney should have taken the chance not to pull them into the story and see how people liked it without familiar main characters.

Those are my two issues that seriously detracted from my enjoyment of the movie.  That being done, here is what I liked and didn’t like to smaller degrees.


What worked:

  • I liked that Disney took a chance. I like that the movie was different and not what you expected from Star Wars.  It was fun to have new characters and see unexplored areas of the galaxy.
  • No romance. I know this is debatable due to one of the last scenes between Jyn and Cassian, but I liked seeing teamwork and no undercurrents of “Will they, won’t they?” romantic entanglements.
  • Everyone dies! Yes!  I like that!  In fact, I loved it!  I thought the way the deaths played out could have been better.  I’m not sure they really gave the protagonist characters justice with their deaths, but it made so much sense for everyone to die that I really appreciated that step forward in the Star Wars movies.
  • Director Krennic. I really, really liked him.  I thought he was a perfect addition to the Star Wars universe and his death gave his orson-krennic-and-deathtrooperscharacter justice.  The way he strove so hard, yet was kicked and pushed aside by those higher than him really made me feel for him, more than anyone else in the movie.  He was the only one I kind of related to, in a weird way.  He’s very Machiavellian, for realz, but I liked him.
  • Diversity.  I won’t say much on this because it’s been written on plenty by others, but it was refreshing and so totally needed.
  • I liked the revelation of the Death Star purposefully having that exhaust port which is it’s one flaw, done by Galen Erso.  My husband said, “This helps the 4th movie make so much more sense!”  Though I had never really thought about it, it does help ANH make more sense and makes Luke’s victory taste sweeter.
  • CGI Tarkin. I believe I am one of the few people out there that liked CGI Tarkin.  I thought he was really well done and I liked seeing his role in the Star Wars universe expanded on.  I didn’t find his face that disturbing either…I know some people had a lot of trouble with the use of CGI on faces, but I had way more trouble accepting Leia than Tarkin.  Maybe because I thought Leia was unnecessary to the plot, whereas Tarkin moved the plot along so I had no problems accepting the CGI.
  • K-2SO. Thank God for K-2SO.  Without him, the movie would have been very serious and hard to watch.  He was definitely funny and a much needed droid for the Rogue One team.
  • I loved that “Rogue One” could have many different meanings. The fact that Bodhi was the one who made it up, added a completely different layer.  Does Rogue One refer to the rag tag team that goes to Scarif as we are meant to believe?  Or does it refer to Jyn?  Or Bodhi, the deserter Imperial pilot?  Or does it refer to the entire Rebel Alliance?
  • I enjoyed seeing the Rebellion as a more rough and tough team, with Cassian having to murder someone in the beginning of the movie. This guerilla feel to the Alliance felt more real for me.  Cassian was one of my favorite characters, along with Krennic.  I thought he represented someone who had been hurt, knew the price the Rebellion would pay for losing, but still moved forward anyway and would do what it takes to get his team to have home field advantage.
  • The space battle above Scarif. Bravo!  That was wonderfully done, especially the Hammerhead hitting the Star Destroyer.


What did not work:

  • Jyn’s character. Boring, unbelievable, and not enough moments to shine.
  • The cameos of Vader and Leia.
  • The entire first half of the movie. Star Wars has a lot of planets, but this movie really jumped around for a while.  They also listed every planet’s name and a description with it, which kind of jolted me out a little bit.  To me, Star Wars is primarily about common themes jedhaand a relatable core. I felt like Rogue One, especially the parts with Saw Gerrera, fell flat in that department.  The beginning was as uneven as Jyn’s ride to the Imperial Base.  It jumped to so many different planets, didn’t flesh out characters, and I even got bored at some points.  I think once they go to Yavin 4 and were trying to convince the Rebel Alliance to steal the Death Star plans and go to Scarif, it started getting a lot better.
  • Motivations.  Not only with the characters but also with the Rebellion.  I couldn’t figure out the motivations of some of the characters and that made it hard for me to connect with them or even care about their death – specifically Baze and Chirrut.  On a larger scale, I had trouble feeling for the Rebellion and rooting for their cause.  I’m a Rebellion girl through and through but this movie made me more interested in the Empire (so weird writing that).   The Empire was where it was at!  They were organized, efficient and had very clear reasons for what they were doing.  I didn’t feel like the Rebellion would inspire hope in me if I was going to choose one or the other.  That left me a little down because I wanted to cheer for who I knew were the good guys, but instead I felt like they needed to get their act together.

The movie and its characters needed more soul.  If this was not a Star Wars movie, would I like it?  Probably not.  I understand why Disney wanted to make this a battle story, and the second half really worked.  But they forgot that what attracts fans and casual viewers to Star Wars in the first place.  If I care about the characters, I care about their fight.  Sadly, I think Rogue One fell short in many aspects of this.

Share your thoughts. Please.

21 thoughts on “Rogue One: A Hardened Battle Story or a Soulless Masquerade?

  1. My two counterpoints on Jyn: I think her attacking her rescuers says a lot about her feelings of loneliness, abandonment and the fact that she feels she can’t trust anyone. We learn she was 16 when she abandoned by her adoptive father (Saw), after previously being abandoned by her own family. I could easily see her immediately thinking the worst of anyone, even if they are ostensibly “rescuing” her. How does she know they aren’t “rescuing” her to imprison her for the alliance, or to sell her into slavery? Also, I think Jyn kicks butt quite nicely in the scene on Jedha prior to Saw Gerrara’s men taking them to his base. She took on a bunch of stormtroopers in hand-to-hand combat all by herself.

    While I will agree that there are problems with the film, I overall loved it. Have you read Catalyst? I read it before Rogue One came out and it helped me feel more connected with Lyra, Galen and Jyn while watching the film.

    Other thoughts: The combative relationship between Krennic & Tarkin reminded me of Luceno’s “Tarkin” novel, which I enjoyed. And Vader’s actions regarding Krennic kind of remind me of his characterization in the Darth Vader comics, which are awesome. However, I really do hate the whole Mustafar connection and you are right that Darth Vader would never have allowed Krennic there.

    1. Good points re: Jyn being abandoned. But that almost makes her 180 when she comes into the Alliance more unbelievable to me. Someone that resistant to trusting people would quickly want to join a larger cause? I think a more interesting way to develop this would be to skip the scene where she gives a lame motivational speech entirely and have her communicate with the Rebellion by saying, “I am going to Scarif to find the plans, whether you want to join me or not, peace out.” It would give more depth to see characters like Mon Mothma say flat out no and then have a bunch of Rebels go do it because it’s the right thing to do.

      I agree also with the kicking butt scene in the beginning but she fizzled out fast after that.

      I have not read Catalyst but I have read the basic plotline on other sites so I know what it’s about. My one thing about the books and how they tie into the series is that they should be great additives but the movie should taste well on it’s own. The books, TV shows, etc., should be other spices later added to assist in understanding the meal better, but you shouldn’t need it. LOL great analogy hahaha.

      I do like the Vader scene at the end, I really do. But the way they tied it into ANH and had it lead right up to the very first seconds of ANH was a shame.

  2. I have been awaiting your review with baited breath! Haven’t seen the film yet but have peaked at spoilers (in our situation I cannot rely on my in-laws promise to watch the younglings while we go check it out).

    I always thought the stealing of the plans should have been one of the prequels. And I always took it as rebel spies stole the plans while the Empire was distracted by a battle. There are hundreds of WWII movies that work like this.

    I do think it would have been fine to cast new actors as Leia and Tarkin. and the whole exhaust port put there on purpose seems a little over the top. It solves one problem but creates another: namely how could you count on anyone being able to target it so precisely?

    1. I agree with casting new actors for old parts. Some people are glad they didn’t recast – but, with Tarkin, they basically did because they had to do a new voice, and he didn’t look natural. Either method – CG recreation or new actors – causes an uproar. New actors with some CG and makeup enhancement would have been a better use.
      Although, the film would have been stronger without Leia.

      1. Well they did get some new actors, kind of. They hired people with the same build and I read somewhere that the guy who was in Tarkin’s uniform had high chiseled cheekbones as well. I think they tried to do as much as possible without CGI.

        That said – I would have been completely on board with casting new actors. In fact, I had expected it.

    2. Oh no on the in-laws! I pre-bought tix and scheduled it with my mother long ago so I was ready. 🙂

      You think the exhaust port being put there on purpose was over the top? I actually liked that. Only because the more I know about the Empire, the more I realize how meticulous they are and putting a mistake like that in their pride and glory, the Death Star, would have been unusual. That said, not sure about the second Death Star but we can blame that on the fact that it wasn’t finished yet. And in regards to your question – that’s why I mention it making Luke’s victory on ANH that much sweeter, because you realize only someone very strong in the Force was able to hit it so precisely. Galen Erso couldn’t make the mistake too large, right? An engineer would notice and correct it. So he was placing his hope into something small, but manageable to a good pilot. I personally think Wedge or Hera would have been able to get a torpedo down the exhaust port had they been given a chance. 😉

      I’m with you with recasting. I would have been fine with that.

  3. 1. I still don’t like everyone dying in the end of the movie. I feel it would have had more impact if a single person – and preferably a minor character had survived to be the one to tell the story, or to take the plans to Princess Leia.
    2. I agree with the jumps and gaps in motivation. The jump between Jyn’s father dying and Jyn speaking up to the rebel leaders and convincing everyone to go steal the death star plans – followed by a bunch of soldiers agreeing to be led by her – was a big jump. It was a bit jarring.
    3. Also, the Tantive IV being at Scarrif doesn’t make sense. Princess Leia wouldn’t be there.
    4. K2SO is awesome.
    5. I was watching Return of the Jedi last night while wrapping presents (it is the best Star Wars movie for Christmas because it has a red vs green lightsaber fight). One thing that occurred to me is the spacefighter battles have a lot going on, but there is a central viewpoint character. In Episode VII, it’s Poe, in IV and V it’s Luke, in VI, it’s Lando and a bit of Ackbar, in I and III, we follow Anakin. In Rogue One, there is no viewpoint character for us to root for in the space side. It’s still a good battle, but they didn’t have a character to anchor us and watch the battle through.
    I also watched the last 15 minutes of Episode VII for fun – I love the “oh shoot, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ve got to survive” feeling of the final lightsaber fight. It was interesting how much of a stronger and more focused ending it is than Rogue One.

    1. 1. But with only one death, you open up an entirely new field of canon work to be written or played with regarding those characters. And questions about where they were in the OT, etc. I think they made the smart decision to “wipe them out. All of them.”
      2. Yes big jump. No like.
      3. Agreed.
      4. Agreed.
      5. I didn’t even think of the red and green lightsaber fight. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! Haha, Christmas colors! Yeah, I never realizd that either with the spacefighter battles. I think maybe we were meant to be following the Mon Calamari (Admiral Raddus apparently) but you aren’t connected to him much at all so it fell a little short. At least with ROTJ you had Ackbar AND Lando, and you were connected to Lando so accepting Ackbar was easier. Also Ackbar says, “It’s a trap!”

      I think TFA is way better movie in general, despite some major flaws, and mostly because of how connected we get to the new characters. Rey, Finn, and even Poe have depth whereas I think everyone in Rogue One was like watching an episode of Rebels (except for Krennic).

  4. I absolutely loved this movie! I had very few problems and they are all small and insignificant so they didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I think casual Star Wars fans will enjoy the movie more than die-hard fans, but I consider myself a die-hard fan and I loved it. Eh, to each their own.

    1. As Mei Mei said, it was so different and a step away from the Saga that people are going to be very divisive, I feel. My husband loved it! He liked it way better than the saga.

      I like the mysticism with the Force and the Jedi, so it could have also been hard for me to accept Star Wars without a lightsaber appearing but again, most of my problems were with Jyn. I wanted to feel more connected to her but instead thought she was boring.

  5. You absolutely have legitimate points. I heard someone else speculate that the movie would have been better had they cut some screen time from the Imperials to focus on Jyn’s character development, and I think I agree. I still liked Jyn, and Cassian, and everyone else. I don’t think one other review has mentioned Bodhi, and he was my favorite (aside from K-2SO).

    It’s kind of funny, the things I saw as flaws in TFA were much better here, but the strengths of TFA (namely, characters) were weaker here. They really are completely different movies.

    I wonder if maybe you would have liked it better before the reshoots? haha

    1. I did really like Bodhi. I would have loved more from him…he was one of the few characters that I actually felt for – especially in the beginning. I felt bad for him.

      I’m wondering about the reshoots ALL THE TIME. Probably because I have been disappointed. I think Jyn maybe had a bit more spunk, especially from what I saw in the previews. Most of the dialogue she had previously was cut.

      Agreed with the TFA flaws and the flip. For me, I need to connect with the characters because that is what draws us to Star Wars initially. It really didn’t happen in Rogue One.

      That said – I’ll probably see it again if only to understand it better AND catch all the Easter Eggs. 🙂

      1. I will probably see it again also, but I’m not really having the same urge to that I did with TFA. Maybe because I’m not as starved for Star Wars movies now, but also it’s kinda the same way that I think ESB is the better movie, but ROTJ is my favorite. I have to be in the right mood for “dark and complex” haha

        1. Ah yea totally get that. I’m the same, I want to see it again but some of me is debating if I should wait until DVD. That said, I did like TFA more and more as I continued to watch it.

  6. I generally liked the film. The treatment of the Force stuck out to me though. I guess it always seemed the Force was accessible by the Jedi and not as much the common man. The whole ‘biological’ aspect from ep I backs this up. Chirrut is not a Jedi but learns to use the force anyway? Still trying to understand how fake it till you make it works into harnessing the Force. Or is it more a question of faith despite the biological?

    1. Yeah Chirrut was purposefully left vague. Was he a Force user? Was he not? I say he was a Force user…but perhaps, if we go off of TPM, maybe his midi-chlorian count was not high enough so he was a guardian. I’m not sure, I’ll have to look up more of his back story.

      But you’re right, it does raise a lot more interesting points. I know Abrams had a big issue with midi-chlorians and tried to bring it back to the spiritual sense. I’m not sure what the Star Wars powers to be are doing with it now.

  7. CGI Leia looked so fake, where as Tarkin looked so believable. As to Leia not being at Scarif, I watched ANH the next day after seeing Rogue One, and in the opening crawl it says that Leia escaped the battle with the plans and is being pursued across the galaxy. So they kind of had to put her there, but I don’t think we needed to see her face. Just showing her iconic outfit would have been enough.

    I don’t like that they put the name of the planets up there either, except for Mustafar, they didn’t do that for Mustafar. Most of the planets they went to where named anyway in the script. “Your father is on Eadu.” The defector went to Jedha, steal the plans from Scarif, etc. Everyone knows Yavin is the base, and instead of them telling Jyn we could put you back where we found you, they could have said take you back to Wobani.

    My problem though is that they killed everyone. I don’t like that. At least some of them could have gotten away. Just because they aren’t in the originals doesn’t mean they have to die. If Ahsoka got to live even though she isn’t in RotS, some of the Rogue One crew could have too. Marvel is doing great things with the SW comics, a mini series featuring them as their own little crew would be awesome. I still think they should do a Cassian and K2 comic telling how Cassian acquired him.

    I think we were supposed to take away that the Rebellion leadership at this time is split. Mothma and Bail seemed to be on the same page and wanted to fight, but the others seemed afraid to fight. It think this was supposed to be the event that finally and truly brought the Rebellion together as one.

    1. Good point about Mothma and Bail, plus the Alliance coming closer together after this. I did like seeing Mon Mothma and Bail Organa have more screen time.

      I’m glad you also think Tarkin was well done! I think most people really hated him. My husband didn’t even know he was CGI.

      And really, really good point about Ahsoka. That is starting to make me think of their deaths differently. Yes, I guess some of them could have survived and we just don’t hear about them.

      1. I honestly didn’t realize he was CGI face wise, I though it was the guy that played him in the end of Rots since they got the same actress to play Mothma here as they did there, and that they used some effects to make him look closer to Peter Cushing. I had no idea that it was a completely CGI face until later. It was flawlessly done, but Liea’s looked so fake.

        Yeah, they could have been in the infirmary recovering during the battle, not like they thought to evacuate or anything. They could have continued their story in another way.
        As awesome as a blind monk that kicks ass is, Chirrut and Baze weren’t that important to the plot. Anyone could have flipped that switch for Bodhi.

        But I would have loved to have seen K2, Cassian, and Jyn make it to a shuttle, or even just Cassian and Jyn. They all just seemed too resigned to die in my opinion. Plus, those reshoots apparently rewrote the entire ending. I’m curious to see the original version. We never did see that scene of the three of them running across the beach carrying the plans. I really hope they release the unused footage on the DVD.

        Oh, and I loved this one so much better than TFA. I actually don’t like TFA. It didn’t feel like SW to me, but this did.

        1. Yeah I have some friends who really didnt like TFA either. I like it, but the plot could use a lot of work. But on the other hand, I see why they did what they did. They were trying to bring back fans who were jaded over the Prequels but also appeal to the general audiencd as well. I think I loved Rey tons and I liked the new characters, so I was willing to overlook the flaws. That said, if Episode VIII is really similar to ESB, I will be very disappointed. I excuse it for TFA due to the circumstances I listed, but I would not be happy if they got lazy and basically rewrote ESB.

          I do see your points with some people living and it working, but I will stick by that I love that everyone died. It was refreshing, in a way. Sad, but also needed with the Star Wars movies.

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