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.

Rogue One is Around the Corner!

So.  Rogue One.  I haven’t talked about it a lot and I was a little skeptical when the first teaser trailer was released.  Since then, we’ve received two more legit trailers and I’m beginning to look more forward to it.  Actually, scratch that, I’m really looking forward to it!

I’m not sure what was with all the rumored re-shooting of it…the only thing I can think of is that Jyn no longer seems like she has an attitude and the trailers are not quite as dark.  Jyn seems more eager to jump into this Rebellion and help, whereas before she seemed to be portrayed as someone who might not be able to be trusted, someone the Rebellion was wary of.

It seems like once again in the Star Wars universe, the heart of Rogue One will be family.  Looks like Galen Erso is connected to the creation of the Death Star, either by helping significantly with the blueprint of it or specifically with the laser.  I find the laser theory more plausible because the Prequels point to the Geonosians being responsible for the actual mechanics of the Death Star.

The question remains though – why was Jyn’s father involved in the first place?  All he says is that he is doing it to protect her.  And on top of that, why would the Rebellion choose Jyn to lead the mission?  If anything, I would think she would be too effected by her feelings in the operation for them to trust her with something so significant.

So does she know something by being the daughter of Galen that no one else does?  Does she understand the Empire better than anyone else in the Rebellion?  We see her in a cell in the last trailer.  After seeing her father taken by the Empire, is she always on a mission to get him out?

An interesting theory was presented to me by my friend – does Vader give the plans to Krennic on purpose to allow him to lose them?  His theory was that Krennic is ambitious and after Vader’s rank in the Empire – or perhaps they are equals and Krennic wants to get ahead – so Vader purposefully allows him to screw up so that he can be “disposed of”.  I’m not sure I believe that.  I don’t know if it fits well with ANH where Vader was obsessed with the plans.  Unless we finally get to see Darth Vader making a mistake?  Nah…I still don’t like this theory because I don’t think Vader plays into this movie too much.  Kennedy said he would only come into the movie at a significant moment.

rogue-one-cast

Coming away from this trailer, I’m not wondering a lot about the plot like I did with the TFA trailers.  This seems pretty straight forward and the excitement of the movie will be in the journey, not so much the plot or end result.  We know the end result so I feel like Disney may have to try even harder to make it good and engaging.

By the way, I love the diversity of these characters!  At this point we’ve almost taken it for granted as we get subliminally used to seeing them and accepting them as part of the Star Wars universe.  It’s quite refreshing and I want to say groundbreaking but I’m not sure if that’s true yet.  We have a female lead who is Caucasian but every other supporting character in the Rogue One mission are of different nationalities.  I do love seeing both Rogue One and TFA with female leads though.

When looking at the movie posters, I was wondering if any of the Death Star blueprints that show on their faces have anything to do with specific parts of the mission.  For instance, it looks like Jyn and Cassian have similar blueprints on their face.  Baze and Chirrut also have a similar blueprint.  But Bodhi, 2-KSO, Saw, and Krennic all are different.  Krennic definitely has the laser part of the Death Star so that would play into the theory of him capturing Galen Erso to help with the laser.  Some of me feels like everything Disney does is for a very good reason and I don’t think they slapped on random blueprints.  I’m probably being a little too nitpicky about these posters, but that’s half the fun of being an obsessed fan!

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Does anyone have theories on this without revealing spoilers?  I am not as spoiler-free for this movie (if anyone watched the live stream at Celebration Europe than a big one was dropped there by mistake) since we kind of know the plot and what happens anyway, but for respect of others – let’s keep it as spoiler-free as possible.

Good to be back, by the way!  Hoping to get in the groove of things again.  🙂