Last week I finally saw Rogue One! A review/my thoughts are under the cut. So, spoiler warning!
Let’s start out by saying that this was a good movie, overall I liked it a lot. It had good acting, production value, all those things. Now let´s get into the specifics a bit more:
We now apparently live in an age of endless reboots, sequels and adaptations, with original movies hard to get by. Starting up the Star Wars franchise again falls into this trend, and you might wonder whether it’s necessary to keep making movies based on pre-existing stories. I’m not really sure how to feel about this situation myself, but one thing I’ll say is that if you really want to make an extra episode of Star Wars, the story behind Rogue One is perfect. It shows us all new characters and tells a story that was only mentioned briefly in one movie, and it expands the whole ‘Wars’ thing to a new level, trading in the mostly Skywalker-focused story of the main movies for what’s basically a behind the scenes look at how the Rebellion works. It’s a smart story to tell and feels like a useful expansion of our known Star Wars universe.
Some criticism of Rogue One has been that the characters weren’t very well developed. Maybe, but this being an ensemble movie that had to introduce 6 new heroes, one new bad guy and a bunch of side characters, mega-developed characters aren’t really what you’re gonna get. I don’t mind; their motivations and important character traits were clear and I felt that they played well off each other, creating a nice group dynamic that I was definitely sad to see disappear at the end. Like I said; this is not the family saga we’re used to, this is a story about the Rebellion focused on a few individuals. They get to make choices based on what’s important to them and they felt real enough to me. Jyn Erso was a good protagonist and her not wanting to be a part of anything at the beginning realistically developed into caring about the Rebellion. The rest of the gang were good too, I especially liked how they introduced us to a more morally grey spy-type and someone who uses the Force without being Force sensitive- these kinds of characters again give us a broader scope of what exactly happens in the galaxy far, far away. And as always, the droid sidekick was awesome.
The tone and message
‘Rebellions are built on hope’ ‘Hope lies in rebellion’. Good taglines! Important messages! Sadly, though, everyone dies. But they do accomplish their mission. Was that hopeful or not? I’m conflicted, to be honest. The end goal of the movie was of course to deliver the Death Star plans, not to give everyone involved a happily ever after. But at the same time, we already *know* they’re going to succesfully steal the plans, so.. yeah. Opinions will probably vary a lot on this one. Personally, I wish they’d all survived and I don’t think it would necessarily be a continuity error to let the heroes survive without seeing them again in the OT; send them off to some kind of hospital to recover from their injuries or something like that. And it’s not as if all rebels are constantly there whenever we’re at a Rebel base either. I also feel like the ‘hope’ message might have been a bit clearer if we’d focused on the aftermath a bit more. I loved seeing it tie in to the exact start of a New Hope, but maybe some more shots of important rebels talking about how important this mission was would have really solidified the message. And maybe the characters deserved a bit more of a sendoff/remembrance, but that’s me going into ‘I got too attached to some nonexistent people’-mode, probably.
Despite my wish for happy endings, I have to respect the people behind the movie for doing it like this. This movie is tonally different from the other SW movies (save, maybe, ROTS); it gives us a more up close look at the destructive force of the Empire and the sacrifices required from those fighting it. There are some fun moments (thank you, K-2SO!) but mostly it’s a lot less lighthearted. This makes it both a strange and a smart addition to the SW franchise; it won’t be a movie I’ll turn to whenever I want to see a fun old favorite, but like I said it also broadens the scope of the series. Rogue One gave us a solid, if slightly sad, additon to the Star Wars franchise and I’m glad it turned out as good as it did.
Some random remarks
- Someone called Galen Erso’s ‘fatal flaw’ plan the best retcon in cinematic history, and I’ll agree. One of the semi-plotholes in ANH is solved in a good way!
- How do we feel about lightsabers and the Death Star being fuelled by the same substance? It makes complete sense in-universe to use the best weapon you know to create the best weapon you want, but it’s also kinda sad.
- It’s awesome to have a female protagonist and such a diverse group of main characters! Of course, though, there could have been way more women in this. I didn’t really mind it personally because the main group felt as if you could have genderswapped anyone and it wouldn’t have made a huge difference for the characters; no macho stuff, thankfully. But then again, that means that it could also have been a group with only women.
- CGI Tarkin somehow looked better than CGI Leia, but I didn’t mind seeing either of them. It was a bit uncanny valley, but didn’t distract me or creep me out.
- I usually don’t get really sad about movies, but man, this ending was something else. They kept throwing horrible things at our heroes, I thought there’d never be an end to it! And when there was an end, I was sad.
- Maybe you can’t top the Imperial March, but the soundtrack stands on its own pretty well. The ‘Imperial Suite’ track reminds me of something the villain from a 1940s Disney movie would sound like, which is cool. I’ve been playing the whole thing almost constantly for the last week, haha.
(images via Lucasfilm)