All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.
By now I guess everybody, each of you movie buffs, has seen Rogue One at least once, right? And, you liked it. Since it was like a fresh breeze, breathing new life into the tired old Star Wars vehicle, right? Something Force Awakens failed completely at could now easily be achieved. Yes, I was thinking the same, and I guess no one of us can be blamed for thinking and feeling that way. Rogue One was really something different, fresh and kinda new, filling in a gap in the greater story arc of the Star Wars canon, the story about how the resistance came into possession of the Death Star blueprints; the saga of the brave rebels, outgunned and outmanned, stealing those plans from much superior Empire forces. A triumph of the will! A pretty cheesy but strong message for the juvenile audiences around the globe.
Yes, I liked it, liked it lots, exactly like you. My few little nitpicks were easily explained by Disney’s interference in the creative process and extended and rather costly reshots. Of course they didn’t do the final film any good as it would’ve been better with the cut-out scenes still in it, would’ve made more sense. We can’t be sure tho if the first half of Rogue One would’ve appeared less like a patchwork and had better flow without the reshots and overall sanitation of the script. Guess we gotta wait for the inevitable Dirctor’s Cut BluRay, available some time in a profitable future.
No, the real reason for why I’m now giving you a vastly different opinion about Rogue One than in my first writeup is indeed the fact that I liked it less and less the more and the deeper I thought about it. Will go and watch it again soon, but I doubt it will change my view much. Of course I could pray you through a number of bad and stupid decisons the filmmakers made and a lot of useless and stupid scenes and plotholes. But that’s bad craftsmanship and … well, let’s not talk about that right now. We will see the professional critics doing that a bit further down. Let’s instead talk about something different, something far more basic for this movie and the whole SW franchise: Same as with Force Awakens, Rogue One’s makers didn’t understand Star Wars conceptually, they don’t understand the special cheesy atmosphere which makes SW such an epic saga and franchise.
When wunderkind director JJ Abrams (a 55 y/o guy with only 5 completed movies under his belt) decided to have most his locations in Force Awakens to look like your neighborhood on earth (because that’s what they were), he proved once and for all that he ain’t the prodigy everybody thought but that he didn’t get Star Wars at all and was indeed a very wrong choice of director. In Rogue One we had a far superior Gareth Edwards at the helm but very stupid Disney execs holding him back. They tried to make a sad movie where all our heroes are going to die but in a way totally acceptable for kids’ consumption. A nearly impossible split for Edwards. And it shows in the product.
What also shows is again a lack of drama and of well established characters. I heard an explanation for it, goes like this: We don’t need well thought-out characters if they are all gonna die anyway. So basically they gave us a bad movie … on purpose!
When our small band of heroes get
deaded plucked off one by one, why are we staying so blasé about it, why doesn’t the drama of a loved character’s dying touch us any deeper? Why are we staying so cool and uninvolved? It was the same when Han Solo was killed by his son, the senseless Kilo Ren character. Not even a single sigh was to hear in the whole theater. We couldn’t care less. The whole New Order thing, which was supposed to strike fear in our hearts, left us cold. We thought if the filmmakers don’t give a crap about it why should we?
I guess that’s an unfortunate development in the movie industry as a whole. They sacrifice drama and well-written stories for mere spectacle. With the noise level in cinemas nowadays and mostly Chinese audiences we have no use for well written dialogues and narration in the first place. Or is it? It’s just a shame that Disney sacrifices a universally loved franchise like Star Wars on the altar of modern cinema. Because Star Wars, even 40 years later, is still a child of the 70s, these movies need to deliver a sense of awe and wonder. Weirdly enough it’s the same qualities Disney’s whole success is based upon they are now trying to weed out. So why aren’t they giving us that anymore? The thought that people exist with fancy titles and large paychecks, only to make such bad decisions, makes me wanna throw up. Which is a stupid decision as well but at least wouldn’t affect anybody else.
Ok, it’s hard to awe the modern audiences which are spoiled by perfect CGI wonders in almost every modern movie. But there is more that makes or would make a movie really gripping and good: Good old storytelling. I wonder how that art could’ve gone extinct in such a short time. I know there are good directors and screenwriters out there, even in Hollywoodland, who could deliver us a perfect Star Wars story with all the drama and characterization and a lot of awe moments. The names Spielberg, Scorsese spring to mind. Or be daring and hire a fucker like Wes Anderson. But these directors wouldn’t touch this poisoned, ruined, compromised franchise with a 10′ pole. Sad but true.
CONCLUSION: A wasted chance, a trainwreck of a movie with more negative than positive points. Still kinda exciting because it makes a whole bunch of new, previously unseen errors. 🙂
WATCH IT? What you haven’t yet? Hurry son. Off to the theatre you pop!
THE EXPERT PANEL:
Chris Stuckman without …
… and with spoilers.
Jeremy Jahns, as usual, had a clown for breakfast.
And of course my friend from Britland, Mark Kermode: