SPOILER ALERT – While I’m sure everyone who cares will have already seen Rogue One – A Star Wars Story by now, this post contains numerous spoilers.
I watched Rogue One for the second time last night. After my first viewing I thought it was a great, thoroughly entertaining, and worthy addition to the Star Wars movie universe. After my second viewing, I have a few reservations.
The movie still has a lot of good points. The overall story is good and fits in with the other Star Wars storylines quite nicely, particularly the neat way it all ties in to A New Hope at the end. I also liked Galen Urso’s character and his personal sacrifice to build the death star with that massive technical oversight in its reactor core and how this relates to the development of his daughter Jinn’s character throughout the movie. The way it allows her to develop from an uncaring criminal to devoted hero of the rebellion is a good solid believable story arc for her character. It’s a shame all of the heroes had to die at the end, but it did make for good cinema. Cassian Andor was a good foil for Jinn, cheesy dialogue aside, and K-2SO also made for good entertainment – even if a wisecracking droid with a British accent is hardly new territory for Star Wars. There’s also plenty of staples such as good old fist-fights, blaster battles, and X-wing vs tie fighter sequences (as well as the introduction into the cinematic universe of the Khyber crystals) to keep most Star Wars fans happy.
A common problem, however, for this movie and all the prequels, is the way they integrate classic characters such as Darth Vadar into these new storylines. In this movie Darth Vadar had two key scenes. The scene at the end that has him cutting down scores of rebels in his vain attempt to retrieve the deathstar plans is the stand out sequence from the whole movie. Very Star Wars indeed. His other scene, where we found the Sith lord apparently chilling out in a vat in his castle on Mostafar, was unnecessary and unconvincing. It’s great to see as much as we can of one of cinema’s most enduring characters, but what was the point of this scene? Vadar gets to impose his authority on Krennic and then gets him in a force choke (I imagine the producers saying ‘OK, when’s he going to choke someone? That’s what he does, isn’t it?) and drops a truly terrible pun ‘Try not ot choke on your aspirations’. It feels camp and forced and adds nothing to the story. I know Star Wars is pretty camp, and the banter between the heroes in the original trilogy is a part of what makes those movies so fun. But, while some nice cheesy one liners are always welcome, certain characters don’t do them – Darth Vadar being one. He’s supposed to be an embodiment of evil and the dark side of the force – not some wisecracking sidekick. It’s not nearly as bad as his tortured ‘Noooooooooooo!’ at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it still made me cringe. The blind force guy Chirrut was much more suited to the wisecracking role, although some of his dialogue, while he was knocking out storm troopers left, right, and center, was also questionable. At least he was a cool new character and got a good heroic death braving the crossfire to set up the link to the rebel fleet outside Scariff’s security gate.
This inability of the producers and writers to understand the basic characeter traits of their key protagonists and antagonists makes me worry about what state Han Solo will be in when they release his stand alone fare next year. At least Leia’s surprise appearance at the end was so brief it didn’t do much other than give a cheap thrill to her legions of fans. It’s better to leave these classic characters alone and focus on developing new stories with a whole new set of key players – as they did in Rogue One for the most part. These new stories won’t have to call for all of the new characters to die so heroically at the end. One of the main strengths of The Force Awakens was the introduction of Rey, Finn, and Dameron Poe to take over the mantle from the old guard.
It’s so much better to create new characters and stories from a universe that is so well realized and so vast that the possibilities are literally limitless. This is one of the main strengths of Rogue One – Vadar’s 50/50 ratio of good scenes aside – A mythology of the universe that is already known being given a motley crue of new characters to explore, and for the most part hitting all the right buttons for Star Wars fans. I suppose as long as the classic characters still draw in the crowds (I guess they’re probably planning Obi Wan and Yoda backstories too), there’s not much chance of that happening any time soon.
Rogue One – 7/10