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?

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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.

SWCE Rogue One Update

Here’s my Star Wars round up for today: Ezra cuts his hair in the new season of Rebels and I watched SWCE Rogue One panel live for an hour and didn’t get to see the new trailer.  Sigh.

But we did see this kind of cool behind the scenes look and you know what?  I’m really looking forward to it!  I know when the first trailer came out, I had some weird reservations that it seemed too much like an Iraq or Vietnam war movie (and I still think that) but it definitely looks cool.

The most interesting parts of the reel for me:

  • Seeing an RA-7 droid! Talk about a blast from the past.
  • Director Krennic’s cape.
  • Yavin 4!!
  • Jyn in normal clothing. Not even a low cut shirt.  Thanks for not making her a Charlie’s Angel.
  • Infiltrating the Empire. We all saw Jyn in that TIE uniform in the first trailer but if you slow down the clip, you can see Cassian in an Imperial uniform throwing a stormtrooper against a wall.

There were some interesting facts from the panel.  It wasn’t all a complete waste.  For instance:

  1. James Earl Jones is confirmed to come back as the voice of Vader (excuse me if everyone already knows this – I have been SO out of it due to having a baby.)
  2. K-2SO is the name of the new droid in this movie. From what Alan said during the panel, this droid may be the comic relief.  Once an Imperial droid, he’s now been reprogrammed by Cassian so he’s “not quite all there”.
  3. Along with K-2SO, I’m wondering if Baze is also some of the comic relief. It seems like since Chirrut is the more serious warrior-monk-but-not-quite-Jedi, Baze is the foil.  He described himself as a non-believer in the Force and a “doer” whereas Chirrut is the “thinker”.  Was there some reference somewhere that they might be a little like the two guys in The Hidden Fortress whom Lucas based Artoo and Threepio off of?  I feel like I read that somewhere…Is Chirrut part of the Church of the Force like Lor San Tekka?
  4. Bodhi was a pilot who worked for the Empire. The city he is from is occupied by the Empire and makes him question his job.  We all know he joins the Rebellion but I’m not sure what the tipping point is or if we’ll find out.
  5. Jyn’s father, Galen Erso, invented something “so beautiful, so fantastic, it might change the universe.” We know from previous articles that whatever he created or knows, it’s sought by the Empire and the Rebellion.  I’m sure that will create an interesting relationship between Jyn and her father and we all know how much Star Wars loves relationships between children and fathers.
  6. Jedha and Scarrif are the new locations/planets. Jedha is the planet that looks like Iraq and people make Force-based pilgrimages.  Scarrif is where you want to go on holiday.  LFL really likes introducing planets that start with J recently.
  7. Felicity Jones said the most interesting part of her character is that while Luke and Rey don’t know their background and are searching for it – Jyn knows her story and family, but is trying to find a cause.
  8. Not sure we learned much more about Saw Gerrera. I should probably watch those TCW episodes again.  I remember that I found him annoying and slightly crazy.

 

***SPOILER ALERT***

I think the guy who plays Baze also mistakenly revealed that Chirrut dies.  I’m pretty sure I understood that correctly and the way Gwendoline got awkward and tried to change the subject was funny.

***END SPOILER***

The new poster art revealed today at SWCE for Rogue One

The new poster art revealed today at SWCE for Rogue One

There’s a Force Awakens special tonight on abc at 8pm where most people think the second trailer will also be aired.  I’ve DVR’d it anyway so hoping that it’s true and I get to see the new trailer.

Strangely, this feels very much like Star Wars Rebels to me – minus Kanan and Ezra.  I wonder if that was on purpose?  Disney is trying so hard to make everything feel cohesive within the books, novels, TV shows, and the movies.

I am happy that my interest has been re-“awakened” in Rogue One.  There’s so much even from that one clip to dissect.  I’m not sure we’ll ever know what the reshoots were about but from this clip, I still think the movie feels very “war-like”.

 

Thoughts? Let’s hope for a new trailer tonight!