Weather and the demands of the holiday season tag-teamed us, and Kyle and I didn’t get to the theatre for Rogue One on opening weekend, but we’ve seen it now. Here are some of my thoughts.
I liked Rogue One. I liked it about as much as The Force Awakens, which is to say after the nostalgia wore off, the relief that it wasn’t more of the prequel trilogy subsided, and all the film’s faults came into focus, I was left feeling entertained.
There’s plenty to pick on with the move. As with all Star Wars movies, the plot holes abound, and all the familiar tropes appear; a lost young soul, some convenient timing and arbitrary logic, but the movie didn’t bore me.
Rogue One offers tons of fan service, and when it tries hardest to be such a direct tie-in to the events of A New Hope, the film is at its weakest, but there can’t be a Star Wars movie without some familiar notes. Then Disney would be hearing complaints from the other side of things, so I can’t fault them too much.
One thing Rogue One does that I truly appreciate is offer an unromantic view of the rebellion. Here’s where we’re shown the darker side (no force pun intended) of people who are willing to do anything in the interest of their cause. To that end, Forrest Whitaker’s character is wasted, but moral gray areas are not something we’ve seen much of in the franchise. Traditionally, Star Wars is about dark and light, evil and good.
There’s plenty more to address. There were too many characters vying for screen time. A lot of them barely had names, and too often the movie played to clichés that touch on the insensitive (see blind Asian Kung Fu master), but only a couple characters are well developed enough to stick.
If you haven’t had a chance to see this one yet, go in with maybe slightly lower expectations than the critics are setting. It’s a flawed movie, but it feels like Star Wars. What’s more, it feels like a few things we haven’t seen yet from Star Wars, and that as much as anything, is cause for optimism.
I liked Rogue One, too, but like any other Star Wars movie—including the original trilogy—I could nitpick it to death. A Deathstar would have its own gravitational pull and would plunge any solar system it was docked into chaos, an AT-AT is the most inefficient design for a land vehicle ever devised (note: tripping hazard), but it’s a space fantasy. Okay. Fine. Star Wars popularized the space opera subgenre, so it can be forgiven, but that’s a lot of space magic.
Rogue One is also a war movie and while I believe Erso could bury the plans to the Deathstar in the Empire’s bureaucracy, the Empire knew the Rebels wanted something from the communications tower (even if they didn’t know exactly what it was), and it made no sense to not blow up the tower (see Germany taking out bridges when it was clear they couldn’t defend them in World War II). You can rebuild towers. You may not be able to recover from giving up information so important the Rebels waged its first full-scale attack to retrieve.
And the characters for the underdeveloped masses were stereotypes. Rogue One wanted to avoid having a Jedi master, but a Jedi of Asian descent would’ve made more sense than a Kung-Fu master in a galaxy where Kung-Fu doesn’t exist. That was a poor trade. For all the hype Rogue One gave itself for diversity (Twitter mostly), they hold tight to numerous stereotypes. (Note: a central Asian, most likely Mongolian, is a barbarian berserker with a Gatling laser.) Still, I do like seeing more diversity; let’s broaden minority roles.
The characters who weren’t a stereotype proved worthy of classic Star Wars. Cassian was a dynamic character and his presence (and others like him and Forest Whitaker’s character) added layers to the resistance that didn’t exist in this universe. Rogue One dabbled with gray, and that was fun.
Ultimately, Rogue One felt like a Star Wars movie. While I would’ve liked to have seen the movie take the series in a drastic direction, the franchise is so entrenched that it couldn’t be too drastic (you don’t want to upset fans), and the shifts Rogue One did make were appreciated.
Thanks for reading.