Thursday, December 29, 2016

One Less Rogue in Rogue One Please

Beware! This post is chock full of spoilers and contains some unpopular opinions. If you haven't seen it yet or don't want your love diminished, stop reading now.

This is your last chance to change your mind.

Alright, first off I want to say that I did like the film. I didn't love it. I wanted to love it. When I saw Wil Wheaton's tweet that the last time he loved a Star Wars movie that much, it was 1977 I was really excited. While there were parts and characters I loved, it wasn't enough to compensate for the film's many flaws.

First off, the parts I loved.

Like everyone, I loved Chirrut and K-2SO. Few things would make me happier than an origin film for Chirrut and Baze, and a ringtone of K-2 saying "you have a phone call. The captain said I had to tell you." Chirrut, while still being the stereotypical sage-like blind monk that kicks ass, has a lot of heart thanks to Donnie Yen's brilliant performance. It's hard (both mentally as well as requiring a lot of skill) to take a role that's clearly a stereotype and turn it into something genuine. Some day I hope I get to talk to him one on one when there aren't any cameras or PR people around so I can ask him about his process for that character.

K-2SO has some of the best one-liners in the film. To be honest it was hard at times to believe that this was a robot. How can a robot understand humor? But then he'd say something funny or snarky and I'd be amused enough to forget that question until the next lull in the plot. This should have bothered me more than it did. But I have to admit that the jokes were really well timed and it does take skill to place them just so...even if the placement is to distract from the proverbial man behind the curtain. I wasn't really surprised when K-2 died. I mean, of course he did. All of Alan Tudyk's best characters die at the end of the film. It's his curse.

Jyn Erso is a character I wish we'd spent more time with. While it was fascinating seeing her as a child and then jumping to her as an adult, I wanted to know more about her journey. How did she deal with the trauma of witnessing her mother's murder? How many times did she have to run from agents of the Empire who were hunting her? How did she become the crafty bad ass that we see for most of the film? Why was she okay with not having any agency in the events that transpired? Most importantly, was she really that bad of a character that she needed to be redeemed? More on that in a bit.

The little geeky inside jokes were awesome. "Pig Nose" and "Scott" from the cantina? I loved seeing them together, as usual, and grumpy, as usual. The storm troopers talking about the T-15 being marked obsolete? That made me laugh. Seeing Vader's bachelor pad/temple on Mustafar? It was like watching an episode of Lifestyles of the Sith and Famous.

The last part I loved was the last five minutes when everyone is doing a relay race with the transmitted plans. That was the only part of the film where I was on the edge of my seat, squeezing my mother's arm, squealing because what it WAS SO COOL!!!!! That was some quality plotting. It  lived up to my expectations of the film. 👏👏👏

Now the parts that I had serious problems with:

(Cue Imperial March)

The opening. Where's the fanfare and the scrolling prologue?! Seriously, Disney should have done their research. Starting a Star Wars movie with anything other than fanfare and scrolling prologue is the kiss of death. Why? Three reasons: The Ewok movies and Life Day. I don't care if this was a between-the-episodes film. I want to feel the goosebumps on my arms when the brass section plays that first note. That moment alone is worth the ticket price! Don't steal that moment from me!

The writers need to apologize to Forrest Whitaker for the awful job they did on Saw Gerrera. We were shown so many conflicting accounts of his character that it was impossible to know what kind of person he was. Was he the monster the torture of the defector led us to believe? Was he the extremist that Mon Mothma labeled him as? Was he the kind surrogate father that Rey claimed him to be? There are too many conflicting accounts that I have no idea which to believe. So when he accepts his fate during the destruction of Jedda City I have no idea if it's true to his character or a redeeming moment. Instead it just felt like a wasted moment for a wasted character. On that note...

I feel that the subtitle to this movie shouldn't have been "A Star Wars Story" it should have been "Redeem all the peoples!!!" Who thought it was a good idea to try to redeem the entire cast in a single film? It's ludicrous! I found it hard to believe that a bunch of misfits would all suddenly decide to do the right thing. Especially Jyn. She had no reason to take matters into her own hands. The rebellion treated her as badly as the Empire had. Why not enact vengeance on the organizations that were each responsible for the death of her parents? Why save the rebellion from themselves? Then there's Cassian. Why couldn't he continue being the rebellion's morally ambiguous agent of chaos? None of it made sense and they didn't bother to take the time to explain it. They just plowed on with the action hoping that we'd be so distracted we wouldn't notice. Well I noticed.

While I do want a Baze and Chirrut origin film, it's not for the reason you think. Well, okay. Yes, I want to see more Chirrut. Babe however I want to see more of in order to get to know what kind of character he was. On screen he wasn't anything more than a jar head with a big gun. Yes, it was a really cool gun but it may as well have been held by an ambulatory cactus. We know absolutely nothing about him except that Chirrut is his buddy and because of that I want to know more. I'm really sad that they didn't give him more of an identity. If they had his death would have had the impact they were going for. Instead it was just meh.

The Death Star design flaw is something that has bothered me for thirty years. How is it that no one noticed this glaring error? Why did no one just put a steel plate over the exterior port? With that many people involved in the project and with Krennic breathing down their necks, how were any of them, Galen most of all, able to hide that? It made no sense then and it makes less sense now. overall feeling? It was an okay movie. I liked it but mostly because of the good jokes, the digitally inserted found footage from episode 4, and the stellar ending. Was it up to par with the good Star Wars films? No. Was it better than the prequels? Yes, but that's not saying much. The visuals were great and the ending AMAZING but the rest was an entertaining hot mess.

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