(Spoilers for Star Wars: Rogue One below.)
With the complete utter disappointment that was Star Wars: Episode VII, I went into Rogue One a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure what I was going to see. I knew it was supposed to be a prequel to the original series (IV, V, and VI), I knew that it was a sequel to the newer series (I, II, and III), and that was about it.
With 35 minutes left in Rogue One, I was telling myself I’d never see another Star Wars movie in theaters. When I was walking out the theater, I had… changed my mind? I’m still not sure. I’m still not sure how I feel about Rogue One, and I want to try to work this out with you.
Don’t get me wrong. There was a lot about this movie that I enjoyed. First off, the CG. It relied a little too heavily on computer generated graphics for my taste, but A) they did a really good job at it, and B) they kind of had to.
When they first showed Governor Tarkin, I wasn’t only surprised, I was impressed. I mean, Peter Crushing was old in Episode IV, and he’s dead now (obviously), but they did a fantastic job of creating him for his role in this movie. There’s another great CG cameo in the movie that I won’t spoil, but anyone with 2 cents of a brain can figure it out based on the plot of the movie.
K-2SO, the main robot and comic relief of Rogue One, was also really well done. I would’ve liked to have seen them work with animatronics, puppets, or costumes like they have in previous movies, but I’ll take what I can get.
The plot was also fantastic. I really enjoyed the fact that they came up with an original story for a new Star Wars movie. If you can’t tell, that’s my main beef with Episode VII. They
revamped ripped off Episode IV, added some lens flare, and called it a new movie. But, I digress.
The fact that Rogue One actually added something to the Star Wars story/universe really made me have faith in the Star Wars franchise again. I enjoyed the action. I enjoyed the drama. I enjoyed everything about the story. Kudos to the guy who wrote the screenplay of Twilight: New Moon for an awesome Star Wars script.
But apart from the awesome story and great CG, there were a lot of great things in this movie that could have been done, but weren’t. There were also a lot of not so great things that shouldn’t have been done, but were.
Take, for instance, the tiny little callback scenes. You know which ones I’m talking about. First, the dude up in the recon tower pointing the speed gun at the outbound ship. Why? Why is this necessary at all except to say ‘Hey, don’t worry guys, we still know the old movies existed.’ It provided nothing to the story. It provided nothing to the cinematography of it. It provided nothing at all. All it did was add a cheap callback that served no purpose.
Same with Ponda Baba and Cornelius Evazan. When Jyn and Cassian are walking down the Jedah City streets and they bump into them there, it provides absolutely nothing. I really couldn’t stand it. Plus! Jedah is destroyed. Completely, utterly annihilated. So how are Ponda and Evazan supposed to get to Tatooine? Did they leave somewhere in the hour and a half between when they met Jyn and when the city was blown up by the Death Star? It makes no sense. They just did it to get a rise out of the audience.
And another thing. Evazan’s dialogue. “He doesn’t like you.” What? Is this supposed to be this dude’s catch phrase? Is that all he can say? It disappoints me that they’d talk down to the audience like that. We know who he is. You don’t have to give him the exact same dialogue from A New Hope.
And they did that quite a bit, talked down to the audience. There were a lot of points in the movie where they either spoon-fed you information or threw stuff in to make you remember that you were watching a Star Wars movie, but stopped before they finished the reference.
Here are just a couple examples. There was a line where Jyn said something to Saw along the lines of ‘That would be the size of a moon’ when referring to the Death Star. Why? We know what he was supposed to say: “That’s no moon.” But he didn’t. He didn’t say it. It was like when you really have to sneeze, and you’re so close, you can feel it right on the tip of your nose. But then all of a sudden, it just disappears. It’s the worst feeling ever because you know it’s incomplete. There was supposed to be something awesome there but it went away before it could be finished.
K-2SO also said something about the odds. “Would you like me to tell you the odds of survival?” or “We’ve got a 26% chance of survival.” There’s another perfect spot they could’ve had Jyn or Cassian say “Never tell me the odds.” But they didn’t. It felt like they were just getting a cheap joke in. “Oh, yeah? We know you know what they’re supposed to say here, but we’re not going to finish it off. You go ahead and do that yourself because we don’t want to stoop to that level,” even though they stooped lower than that level more than enough throughout the course of the movie.
Now. All of that aside. Rogue One could have been the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, they could’ve done everything right, but they didn’t do one very, VERY important thing that all Star Wars movies need to do.
It didn’t start out like this.
I was waiting. I was on the edge of my seat. That sound is supposed to symbolize something. It’s the device that says ‘Okay. We’re about to take you somewhere. Somewhere far, far away.’ But they didn’t do it.
I get it. It’s a ‘Star Wars Story.’ It’s not a Star Wars movie. But it is a Star Wars movie. There’s no reason they couldn’t have done that. When it just jumped straight into a shot of a ship flying through a planet’s atmosphere, I looked over to Kelsey and the friends we were seeing it with and Kelsey goes “Reed, kids can’t be expected to read that much before they watch a movie.” Well that’s total bullshit. This alone is what killed the first hour and a half of the movie for me. I think I was still reeling from the lack of a ‘Buhdadaaaaa’ and I couldn’t really appreciate what was going on.
But, like I said before, I completely changed my mind in the last 35 minutes of Rogue One. The final action sequence. The final scene. Darth Vader being a total badass. Everything about the end of Rogue One made me remember why I love Star Wars. And that’s why I’m so conflicted. Can the last 35 minutes of a movie really make up for the first 90? I guess we’ll find out next December when Episode VIII comes out.
Reed’s Review Corner
Star Wars: Rogue One
7.4 lightsabers out of 10.
CG was breathtaking.
A new, unique story that added something to the universe.
Talking down to the audience.
Too many cheap callbacks.
No ‘Buhdadadaaaaaaa’ intro.