Jyn Erso: So Much Potential, But…

I watched Rogue One again two weekends ago.  I really wish I could say that I came away from it better satisfied than the first viewing, and while there were parts that did not irk me as much (such as Darth Vader on Mustafar), I found that I still had major issues with Jyn.

The problems I have are not so much with her, but more with Disney and how they decided to create her character.  I read an article a few years ago when the Hunger Games first came out – critics, especially female critics, were using the Hunger Games as an example of how movies with female leads can crush the box office, despite the fact that Hollywood bigwigs thought that men in leading roles would do better (i.e. make more money).  Hunger Games really broke the mold when it came to the leading female in an action movie and I think we have seen a good amount of movies since then that also prove that.

But this line in one of the articles has stuck with me ever since.  The author said something along the lines of,

Do not write strong female characters.  Instead write characters for women. The strong aspect will fall into place if it’s necessary.

I wish I could remember the article and link back to it, but alas, that was five years ago.

The author was saying that if you focus too much on creating a physically strong character, that character will lack the depth that makes people attracted to movies to begin with.  When we look at Katniss, whom her article was based off of, we see a young woman whose strength comes out of necessity to keep her family safe.  She taught herself how to hunt with a bow and arrow so that she could sell her food on the black market and feed her family.  Her love for her sister is what pushes her to join the Hunger Games.  Her feelings for Peeta is what forces her to turn the games on its head at the last minute and best President Snow.  By creating these driving forces within her, a strong character was created.

This is my first problem with Jyn.  We don’t see any character to her.  And you guys can all preach to me as much as you want that there are more in the books, but if a movie is to be good, you shouldn’t need to read a book.

We know Jyn saw her mother die and her father taken hostage.  We eventually learn that she was raised by Saw.  But because she has no character depth, I don’t understand her motivations.  When she figures out that Cassian had orders to kill her father, she is upset.  She rages at Cassian.  This all makes sense…though Jyn lacks character, anyone can relate to losing a parent; especially in her situation where the loss was not ideal (is it ever an ideal situation?).  Yet within a few minutes, she has joined the Rebellion and trying to convince them to find the Death Star plans on Scarif. 

What?  You want to join the team that blatantly lied to your face about killing your father?  They said he would be unharmed but then Cassian was going to kill him?  You know Cassian didn’t think of that on his own, he pretty much implied he was under orders.  So let’s hold hands with the Rebellion and let bygones be bygones, right?  Phssshhhhh.

Those are my first problems in a nutshell.  I can’t understand Jyn’s motivations and she doesn’t seem to have much of a personality.  And of course I could read the book!  I know!  But if you think that, you’re missing the point.

Now we are onto the second, larger problem I have with Jyn and Disney’s writing of her/the movie.

Disney goes out to make this strong leading heroine (yay!)…but this strong, supposedly capable woman always gets rescued.

Okay read that again.

She. Always. Gets. Rescued.

I’m not sure why I missed this the first time I saw it in theaters.  But watching it again, I can count on my hand three major times that she gets rescued.

The first time is when she meets up with her old foster father, Saw.  He shows her the hologram of her father, Galen Erso, and she is spellbound.  She hasn’t seen her father in years and he’s all of a sudden there calling her by her nickname “Stardust” and telling her about plans to destroy the Death Star.  Meanwhile, the Empire decided to use that exact moment to blow up NiJedha/Holy City. She falls to her knees in shock as the cave begins to crumble…and who comes running around the corner?  Cassian.  Because Cassian got himself out of a cell on his own and ran to get her.  If not for Cassian, Jyn would have been dust and pieces just like Saw Gerrera.  I don’t remember Jyn getting herself out of a cell or handcuffs.  NiJedha/Holy City is exploding, the ceilings are caving in, and Jyn sits there looking at a blank hologram until Cassian forces her to move.

The second time, again, has to do with her father, Galen.  Galen is blown up/shot on Eadu where Jyn had been watching everything, hidden.  She runs to his side, to possibly save him if she can, while trying to hear his last words.  Meanwhile, Rebellion X-wings and TIE fighters are having a full on battle and she’s sitting on the most obvious place (a platform that awkwardly juts out) any X-wing would want to shoot down.

Oh and while she’s sitting there crying over her father, who comes to extract her from this dangerous situation?  I remember – Cassian!  That guy who always seems to be most helpful in these situations where Jyn has high odds of dying.

And then finally, the third time, which is sadly the most unforgiveable.  Jyn and Krennic are face-to-face on the top of the tower at Scarif.  He has a gun.  It’s pointed at her.  How in the world will she get out of this situation?  Hmmm…why not use her brains and figure a way out?  Or not.  Remember that guy Cassian I keep talking about?  He somehow regained consciousness from when he fell, climbed all the way up a tower, just in time to shoot Director Krennic so that Jyn can upload the plans.

If Jyn had managed to get herself out of other situations before, this last rescue would not be so challenging in my eyes.  But she didn’t and never will.

Here’s where I pick my other gripe with Disney.  This would not be as big of a problem if they did not surround Jyn with an all-male cast.  If Jyn was consistently rescued by another women, not only would it show amazing teamwork within females (I think Hollywood likes to pit us females against each other in a petty fashion a bit too much), it would show us that girls can get out of situations on their own.  I’m not saying the entire surrounding cast has to be women, but it would have been helpful to have Cassian be played by a woman.  His character is easily interchangeable with a female lead.

In my point of view, this is why Rey succeeded so well in The Force Awakens and why Jyn’s character was such a failure in Rogue One.  They made Rey a young woman that could fight, cry, laugh, and empathize with others.  They made a character who turned about to be strong.  With Jyn, we get almost the same character throughout the movie and who does not seem to be able to get herself out of tense situations.  She constantly needs to be rescued which does not look good for a female lead, especially one they are hyping up to be battle hardened and tough.  This time, Disney made a strong female without any character.

 

Do you agree or disagree with my rant?  Am I too narrow minded and missing something important that would change my entire argument?

I Tip My Hat to You, Joel Edgerton

I thought it would be nice to pay special attention to Joel Edgerton, if only because out of all the Star Wars actors, I think he’s had the most interesting rise.

Harrison Ford is the only other actor who has had a similar rise to fame situation that Edgerton has had, but with Ford, he shot up fast with leading roles in Indy and Star Wars and has never turned back.

joel edgerton

He’s actually kind of cute…

Edgerton, on the other hand, has had a slow and methodical rise in Hollywood since Attack of the Clones.  He’s worked hard to build his reputation in the film industry and I’ve begun to see him in more critically acclaimed films and stronger roles.

Now, I’m not a big movie watcher but I have definitely seen Joel Edgerton in more movies than anyone else in the Prequels, including Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman.  Note that I have seen him in more movies, not that he’s necessarily been in more movies than those three.

For instance, looking at his acting history on IMDB, here are the films I’ve seen him in (chronological order based on when they were released):

  • Ned Kelly
  • King Arthur
  • Smokin’ Aces
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings
  • Black Mass

Look at the rise of the movies, the directors, and their reputation.  When glancing at IMDB, he is in an average of 3-4 movies a year.  3-4 movies A YEAR!  Do you know how tiring that must be?  Plus he recently directed a movie as well.

What got me thinking about Edgerton was how he completely transformed in Black Mass.  Being from Boston, it was a

Joel Edgerton playing opposite Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Joel Edgerton playing opposite Johnny Depp in Black Mass

must-see for me, but I was so surprised at how transformed Edgerton was.  In most of the movies I have seen with him, I have had a flicker of recognition, thinking, “Hey, there’s young Uncle Owen.”  But with Black Mass, I couldn’t figure out if that was him.  Every once and a while, I’d think, “But is it?  Is it young Uncle Owen?  Nah, maybe it’s just someone who looks a lot like him.”   It really bothered me.  When I saw his name in the credits, I began thinking about writing this blog post and tipping my hat in his direction to say, “Hey dude, I’ve noticed how far you’ve come from your AOTC days and that is awesome.”

Think about how small a part he played in AOTC.  He was hardly in it and barely talked.  Most of his work prior to Star Wars had been in single episodes for TV shows, made-for-TV movies, or shorts.  After Star Wars, he did another movie, a few episodes in TV series and then – bam – Ned Kelly.  (For those that don’t know about Ned Kelly and who aren’t Australian like Yours Truly, it’s an Australian movie with all the big named Hollywood accented (English or Australian, mostly Aussie though) actors like Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, etc. It’s a fun watch, if only to learn about the most notorious Australian gangster of all time – Ned Kelly.)

I’d like to see Edgerton in more leading roles, but he seems unconcerned about that.

I think part of my obsession is, “How far is the spectrum of what you can play?” Looking for the edges of that spectrum. Not to be stuck playing a hero all the time. I don’t feel comfortable in that role, so much. Looking for those weirder, quirkier, edgier parts. They just become more fun. Often times, they’re not the leading role. I think it’s good to be able to not be the star of the movie. The upside of that is getting to play really interesting questions.

The few movies where he does play a leading role have not done too well box-office wise, but I think his acting has still been stupendous.  It may just be more about getting his name out there and getting it recognized…though again, he doesn’t seem to care about the leading role as much as I do, haha.

Finally, what made me really want to write this quick post, was when I read an article that Jane Got a Gun is finally getting released this upcoming February.  The movie has been plagued with quite a few difficulties and though I love the premise, I had kind of written it off as a never-going-to-happen.  Well, it sounds like it will be!  And guess who stars in it?

Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, and Ewan McGregor.

You’re making the connection right?  All three of these people have met up separately in the Prequel Trilogy.  Portman interacted with Edgerton when she goes home with Anakin to Tatooine to find Shmi.  Portman and McGregor obviously have a lot of interaction from TPM through ROTS.  And Edgerton and McGregor meet up at the very end of ROTS (kind of) when he gives them Luke to take care of.  I fully acknowledge Edgerton and McGregor may not have actually met up and it could have been filmed separately, but I like to believe they were all there at the same time.

How about them apples?

So even if the movie isn’t very good, I’m still going to see it if only for the fact that it’s got 3 Star Wars PT actors back in the same arena.

I’m sure Edgerton will shine as he always does and I just hope I see him in many more movies to come.

My New Video is Out!

Mr. Reticent and I have been working hard on our latest video.  This one is unrelated to Star Wars 😦  Sorry.

We based it off of the news that Peter Jackson decided to release the Hobbit in 3 movies.  If you follow the fan forums, you’ll see that some fans were really upset about this and thought that Jackson is ruining Tolkien’s story.

The Hobbit is one book, a lot smaller than Lord of the Rings, and is also a children’s story on top of that so it is not as heavily bogged down with information as Lord of the Rings.  To create 3 movies out of it seems a little ridiculous.  Jackson did mention he will be including other parts of the Middle Earth story into the movie, but fans are still all riled up that he is continuing to call it the Hobbit, if that is the case.  Some people are claiming he’s been taken in by the Hollywood money/cash and has become a sellout.

Based on all this, and because it amused me, I created our new video.  I realize that this video does not have the broad appeal as the last one did (everyone pretty much knows the story of Star Wars), but I’m hoping Tolkien fans will enjoy it.

As for my personal feelings on this subject – I was definitely a little wary when Peter Jackson announced that he was making one book into three movies.  However, I also believe that if anyone can do it, Jackson can.  So I will suspend my disbelief until I see it.  Hopefully he will not let us down!