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.

Scene it on Friday – ROTS Scene #199

darth sidious lightsaber

This is an epic confrontation and yet Yoda shows…arrogance?  It’s such a strange thing to see from our little green friend.  Wise?  Yes.  Thoughtful?  Yes.  But arrogant?  That’s not the first adjective I would use when I think about Yoda.

Yet here he is basically trash talking Darth Sidious.  It reminds me of a hockey game.  Here’s Yoda and Sidious on the ice talking trash to each other, and before you know it, the gloves are off, the stick is thrown down and they’re at it.  Kind of like this:

 

 

Is it okay to say to Yoda that his overconfidence was his weakness?

Interesting to note, though, that Sidious acknowledges Vader will become more powerful than both of them.  He is including himself, which is a strange admission from Sidious.  I thought he would never let anyone know that since it reveals that he is not all-powerful.

Yoda said his faith in Vader and in the dark side was misplaced.  Was it?  I don’t know if his faith in Vader was misplaced.  We saw in TPM that Anakin had the highest midi-chlorian count that anyone had ever seen.  So yes, with time Vader would become more powerful than Yoda and Sidious.  Unfortunately, Vader got really disfigured on Mustafar, which Sidious maybe did not foresee and though Vader’s Force powers were still strong, he had limited ability with physical movement.  Null told me the other week that he could not do Force Lightening because of his limitations within the suit.  Did Yoda know any of this or possibly see it in the future?

Was Sidious’ faith in the dark side misplaced?  Definitely.  I explored this a few weeks ago.  Sidious did not take into account Vader’s ability to love and become attached.  In the end, that pulled Vader away from the dark side and back into the light side.  His love for Luke overrode the dark side and Sidious’ faith that it would capture and grip someone forever was misguided.

And lastly, I laughed out loud when Sidious was thrown over his desk with a Force push from Yoda.  It was so comical.  I’m not sure if it was meant to be, because I remember being one of the few that laughed in the theater.  But his strangled cry as he flies backwards and the way his robe flaps up…I mean, it was pretty funny.

if so powerful you are, why leave

On another topic, here are some small geek out news:

  1. Star Wars Rebels TV movie premieres tonight!! Check it out on the Disney Channel at 9pm.  The series kicks off on Monday 10/13, on Disney X D at 9pm.  I’ll tell you my thoughts next week.
  2. There is an epic Biblical movie coming out in December titled “Exodus: Gods and Kings”. As a fan of watching Bible related movies and epic movies, I’m definitely going to watch this.  Will it be accurate?  Who knows…but the reason I bring it up is that our own Joel Edgerton plays Pharaoh (and is almost unrecognizable).   I’m not sure if you guys have been following his career since he was in AOTC and ROTS, but it’s really taken off.  He’s done some great stuff, Australian and American, and I’m excited to see that Star Wars was his first step into a larger world.  He had done movies prior to Star Wars, but it was AOTC that put him on the map in Hollywood, IMO.

stunned yoda

INTERIOR: CORRIDOR-SENATE ARENA-CHANCELLOR’S HOLDING OFFICE-NIGHT

MAS AMEDDA leaves the room. PALPATINE approaches a stunned YODA.

DARTH SlDIOUS: I have waited a long time for this moment, my little green friend. At last, the Jedi are no more.

YODA: Not if anything I have to say about it, Lord Sidious.

YODA uses the Force to throw DARTH SIDIOUS back, knocking him clear over his desk and onto the floor in a heap.

YODA: (continuing) At an end your rule is and not short enough it was, I must say.

DARTH SIDIOUS flies through the air, cape flapping, heading toward the exit. At the last second, YODA flies into the exit and stops the Dark Lord.

YODA: (continuing) If so powerful you are, why leave??

YODA ignites his lightsaber.

DARTH SlDIOUS: You will not stop me. Darth Vader will become more powerful than either of us.

DARTH SIDIOUS ignites his lightsaber.

YODA: Faith in your new apprentice, misplaced may be, as is your faith in the dark side of the Force.

Their swords CLASH. The battle is extremely fast and furious.

Scene it on Friday – ROTS Scene #205

Anakin obi wan mustafar

I just watched ROTS this past weekend because I felt like I had begun to forget moments when I ended up with a Scene it on Friday from this movie.  I was going to post about my thoughts, but then I wasn’t really inspired.  But now I’m more prepared for when I land a ROTS Scene it on Friday!

Even though this short scene is part of a grander moment, it can’t be denied that the colors and CGI of Mustafar was amazing.  If you’ve ever watched the Behind the Scenes stuff on the ROTS DVD, you really get a good look into how shots like this were made and the hours it took.  Not only hours, but many, many different people worked together to create this one composite.   When I see that, I always think, “Why do these folks just get a small line in the credits of the film?  They did all the hard work!”

I did find this interesting tidbit on the Mustafar page of Wookiepedia that reiterates what I just mentioned:

Mount Etna was scouted for Revenge of the Sith, to capture plate photography for backdrops in the Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Vader fight on Mustafar. Conveniently, Etna erupted during the making of the film, so Lucas sent a team to film it. The resultant moving image of lava flows could be used as backgrounds for the duel. These images could have been done by CGI, in theory, but it would have been more difficult and expensive than sending a few people to Sicily with cameras, as Lucas states in the audio commentary to Episode III.

The Mustafar scenes took a lot of work and time from the many special effects workers. The lava was made of a food additive with bright lights shining underneath it for the glow. The overview scene was built with a scale model in a pitch black studio. During filming, the room was filled with fog to create the steam effect. The actors were filmed on a green screen and the special effects artists brought it all together.

One thing I noticed in this small scene – look at the line “Main collection plant – day”.  Daytime?  I don’t remember getting any feeling that this scene took place in the daytime.  I looked at Wookiepedia for some answers and didn’t find much.  My only guess is that it could be the black soot and gas from the lava/eruptions constantly filled the atmosphere and blocked the light.

Obi-Wan anakin mustafar

EXTERIOR: MUSTAFAR-MAIN CONTROL CENTER BALCONY, PIPE ACROSS LAVA RIVER, MAIN COLLECTION PLANT – DAY.

ANAKIN, following OBI-WAN, jumps down onto the flexing pipe, lands, and resumes fighting.

Five Favorite Star Wars Visuals

Star Wars Insider always has some great questions that they ask authors, artists, graphic novelists, actors, etc. regarding Star Wars.  Sometimes it’ll be simple questions like “Favorite Star Wars movie?” but other times they have a section where they ask someone more in depth questions about their expertise.

In this latest issue, they asked Chris Trevas his five favorite visual moments from the Saga.  Trevas is an official Star Wars artist who has lent his hand to the Star Wars: Roleplaying Game, Star Wars Adventure Journal, and co-illustrated some Essential Guide’s, among much more.  For Trevas’ answers, you’ll have to pick up the latest Insider.

What are my five favorite visual moments?

I’m so glad you asked!

5. Cloud City

Ahhhh, the view of cloud city.  It sparked my imagination so much when I was younger.  Actually, it still does.  This image was just so sci-fi in my mind that I gravitated towards it.  Before seeing this, my images of cities in the clouds were always ones that somehow floated amongst the clouds, almost like a boat.  But this made so much more sense!  The view flying towards it represented a haven, a safe place, and a sanctuary (I know all those words basically mean the same thing; don’t judge).   A place where our heroes could find some respite from being chased by the diligent Empire.  Little did I know that it would be the opposite, but the visualization worked so well at calming my fears and making it seem like everything would work out.

cloud city

4.  Anakin and Obi-Wan Battling on Mustafar

There’s just something about this image/moment that is incredible and it’s the only image I picked from the Prequels.  Friend fighting friend with such ferocity against a backdrop of molten lava (Lucas’ version of hell).  The emotional image, coupled with the visual imagery stops you in your tracks.  The colors are well done by the CGI team with the vibrant hues of orange, red, and yellow.  I’ve been to Hawaii and have seen real lava, and let me tell you, they did a pretty good job with the colors.

Another aspect worth noting are how their lightsabers stand out and both lightsabers turn a purplish shade when mixed with the red/orange background.  It’s almost ambiguous, as if Obi-Wan is teetering towards the dark side and there could still be hope for Anakin; the boundaries don’t seem defined quite yet.

anakin obi wan fighting mustafar

3.  Imperial Troops Have Entered Space!

Dear George Lucas, Ralph McQuarrie, and ILM: you are awesome for creating an animal-like machine that I will never, ever forget.  The visual image here is so important because it portends a hopeless situation.  We are located on a desolate icy, snow-filled planet.  Snow rarely represents life and we know that the Rebels probably picked this location due to lack of habitability.  Against that bleak backdrop, we have these Imperial Walkers, huge and menacing.  They mean destruction.  What I love about this image is that you don’t even need to understand Star Wars to understand what is about to happen here.  The visual representation is such a punch to the gut that even if you’ve never seen the AT-AT’s before, you know it does not bode well.

AtAt

2.  The Entrance of Darth Vader

This image is imprinted in my memory.  Watching it for the first time, with the pause before Vader comes out, only heightened the anticipation.  And when he enters the Tantive IV, all bets are off the table.  Standing ovation for George Lucas because this has to go down as one of the best entrances by a villain in movie history.  You’ve got everything in white, even his own soldiers, and then out of that doorway comes a figure in complete black with light shining behind him.  So complete that you cannot see one inch of skin and he has a menacing breathing apparatus as well.  He doesn’t even talk in this scene and he doesn’t need to.  The visual imagery is enough.  It’s so simple, yet so powerful.

darth vader entrance

1.  Wistful Longing

Is it right that this makes my top spot because of the external factors related to it?  I love this imagery because of John Williams’ swelling theme behind it, that Luke is frustrated by the fact that he thinks he’ll always be stuck on Tatooine, and by the symbolism of the sun(s) setting on one chapter of his life.  The next day will change his life forever.  But for now, he stares off into the sunset with a wistful longing for a grander, more epic life.

It’s relatable on some level to all of us: that yearning for something bigger or something greater.  That small home/issue/relationship we want to leave behind, a dry desert that holds nothing for us.

What’s interesting about this image is that when you just look at it visually, you actually can’t tell if it’s sunset or sunrise without the context.  It could be a hopeful image, one of a new day and changes.  That’s why I struggled with putting it in first place.  The image is stunning, but is it stunning in and of itself or because of the emotions I place with it?  (Then I realized I didn’t care, and it was my blog, and I like it in first place.)

STAR WARS

 

What about you?  Do you have any Star Wars visuals that just speak to you?

 

Scene it on Friday – ROTS Scene #100

palpatine anakin tcw-2

Gosh, I cannot remember this scene at all.  Did it even happen?  It sounds vaguely familiar, but I’m not as knowledgeable on the Prequels as I would like to be…especially lately.  I feel like somehow, in the last year-ish, my Prequel knowledge has been slowly slipping away.  Often I’ll look at scenes like this thinking…did this happen in the movie?  Which differs from the Original Trilogy, where I will know immediately whether or not it was in the movie.

Either way, look at the manipulation of Palpatine.  There’s a track on the ROTS soundtrack called “Padmé’s Ruminations”.  Hauntingly, beautiful piece by Mr. Williams, but they should also have a track called “Palpatine’s Manipulations”.  Haha.  That would be fabulous.

Tangent.

I don’t get Palpatine’s line of “We can only hope that the Council didn’t make a mistake”.  I can see it’s manipulative, but is it because he is just letting lines drop here and there to try to plant seeds of doubt in Anakin’s mind?

Okay, I cheated here and went ahead to the next scene.  The next scene is DEFINITELY deleted, which makes me think this one is too…and I’m not going crazy.

In the following scene, Palpatine says there are rumors in the Senate that Kenobi is not fit for the assignment (going to Utapau to kill Grievous) because his “mind has become fogged by the influence of a certain female senator.”

Ah-ha.

Okay, it’s making more sense now.  He wants to have Anakin believe that Obi-Wan is two-timing him.  OH SHNAP.  This is slightly frustrating for me, because a lot more in ROTS is making sense now.

I was so confused when I watched ROTS for the first time and saw Anakin’s jealousy over Obi-Wan and Padmé at the end of the movie.  He was beside himself with rage and choked Padmé when he saw that Obi-Wan had come with her to Mustafar.  I attributed it to the fact that at this point, Anakin had fallen to the Dark Side and was just cray cray.

But now it’s making a little bit more sense.  Palpatine had been sowing the seed of distrust within Anakin for a while.  Gosh…sometimes I really disagree with the scenes Lucas cut out!  I know that, in the end, this is Anakin’s story and the movie was long anyway, but this really shows the complicated intricacies between Anakin and Palpatine.  It’s not like Anakin just *poof* went to the Dark Side.  It had been slowly building up in him like the volcanoes on Mustafar (great symbolism when Padmé comes to see him on Mustafar, by the way).  His doubt of the Jedi, his growing distrust of Obi-Wan, Padmé bringing up that maybe they are “on the wrong side”..it’s all there, and the root of the problem is Palpatine.

Palpatine, dude, you are tricky.  You don’t work outright with fear and deception like Voldemort, at least, not right now in the Prequels.  But your underhand molding of Anakin into your perfect apprentice is formidable.

But you forgot one thing.  The same thing Voldemort forgot.  Love undoes all your hard work.

palpatine anakin tcw

EXTERIOR: CORUSCANT-CITYSCAPE-CHANCELLOR’S TRANSPORT-DAY 

The Chancellor’s Transport races through the city and heads for the Senate Office Building landing platform. Waiting on the landing platform is a LONE JEDI. The Transport lands, and CHANCELLOR PALPATINE emerges with FOUR ROYAL GUARDS and MAS AMEDDA. The FOUR ROYAL GUARDS move off in another direction as PALPATINE greets ANAKIN, who has been waiting for him.

PALPATINE: Well, Anakin, did you see your friend off?

ANAKIN: He will soon have Grievous’s head.

PALPATINE: We can only hope the Council didn’t make a mistake.

ANAKIN: The Council was very sure in its decision.

They exit the landing platform.