Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Something Resembling a Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

If you’re looking for a review to figure out whether or not you want to see this movie, then you’ve come to the wrong place. I mean if you’re a Star Wars fan then of course you should see this movie but like you were already going to do that (you’ve probably already done that), and if you’re not a Star Wars fan then I’m just gonna say you probably won’t agree with this reviewish mess upfront. All I can say is that without spoiling everything is that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a gripping, visually stunning and surprisingly poignant depiction of the realities of actually living a rebellion. It has some seriously issue in regards to characterization but honestly that was a dealbreaker for me. Basically it’s a pretty good tragic war action flick so if that’s your thing then you can probably tag along with your smart Star Wars loving friends for a screening of Rogue One without regretting your life choices too much.

Spoilers beyond this point, proceed at your own risk…

Okay now that we’ve lost the weaklings we can finally get to the good part, which basically involves me rant-typing my biased feelings about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie that I generally enjoyed the fuck out of. Not just because it was Star Wars, but because it was a genuinely entertaining film. There were some gaping holes, the kind of holes that could easily be fixed with a decent script edit, which just makes them all the more frustrating but overall the pros outweigh the cons. But overall I am giving Rogue One a thumbs up, definitely worth the price of admission.

What’s the issue then? Well the issue is really down to the first like 30 minutes. Everything else is pretty great - with the exception of the lack of women but I’ll get to that later. This movie ends with a bang and you’re like woah that was awesome to the point where you might forget that the first act of this film was a bit of a useless mess that probably could have been fixed if they had actually included an opening crawl.

In case you’re not down with the lingo, the openly crawl is that scrawling yellow text you see at the beginning of every Star Wars movie, well every movie except for Rogue One. Now I understand the thought process behind not including an opening crawl in this film. They very clearly want to distinguish it from the “Star Wars Saga” because Rogue One is not really part of that story, it’s more of an appendix, maybe a footnote. The “Star Wars Saga” one family’s quest to fuck up the entire universe. Rogue One is not about the Skywalkers, although it does affect them pretty significantly.

Anyway the point is I understand why they didn’t include the opening crawl but it’s super frustrating because if they had they probably could have avoided the boring ass exposition-fest that is the first 30 minutes of Rogue One. That would have been amazing because those 30 minutes REALLY had me worried about whether or not I was going to have come to terms with ANOTHER terrible Star Wars prequel. All I could do was sit in horror as the frigded a women for no reason right up front then had a series of stilted conversations that explained stuff that could have very easily been included in THE OPENING CRAWL.

Okay so the introductions were messy, killing Jyn’s mum on camera was pointless and just bad because like she didn’t need more of a tragic backstory than her dad being the one that created the Death Star. Like why you gotta kill a girl for? There aren’t enough of them around that you can afford to lose one. Then there’s this scene where they rescue Jyn, which was apparently added during reshoots because they wanted to show not tell us about Jyn. Nice idea and all but that scene didn’t really add anything to Jyn’s character, she’s still a two dimensional plot device.

See that’s the problem, the first 30 minutes of this movie and slow with shoddy pacing, which sucks but probably wouldn’t have been nearly as annoying if they had actually given Jyn consistent, developed characterisation. Alas, despite the many complaints about this movie being feminist propaganda Jyn Erso is the least developed character in this film, and that’s saying something since none of the characters are particularly well developed.

Maybe I missed something, I know my Star Wars group chat has come up with some cool ideas to fix the inconsistencies in Jyn’s characterisation to the point that we love her a lot but I’ve seen the movie three times now she’s just a really confusing characters. She’s abandoned by her parents, raised by a rebel, then abandoned by him. Makes sense that she’s got trust issues, also makes sense that she’s desperate to find somewhere to belong, which would explain why she latches onto the rebellion but the movie doesn’t do a very good job of explaining that.

She’s being held by the Empire, she’s not interested in the rebellion but then she is and she helps the rebellion without much in return for her. They were worried about telling not showing well the told us that Jyn was reluctant to help but they don’t show us that. It would make sense if she was trying to find either the rebel that raised her Saw Gerrera or her father Galen Erso but we don’t know if that’s what she was doing. The moment she sees her father’s message she seems to forget all her trust issues and become determined to find him. I don’t get it? Like I don’t understand what she wants at all?

The other characters are not developed much better but they are able to avoid the inconsistency that comes with being used as a plot device. And that’s what Jyn is, she’s a plot device, this movie uses her to get the characters where they need to be but it doesn’t invest any time or energy into explaining why Jyn is doing what she does. That’s just really disheartening because we finally got a cool badass rebel female lead and they dropped the ball because they didn’t allow her to be a person over a plot device.

That, to be perfectly honesty, is pretty much my only complaint about the film. Everything else is great. It looks amazing, and the act sequences are fabulous. The supporting cast of diverse men are all basically brilliant. And the end just gave me a hell of a lot of feels. If only they had ditched the first 30 mins, included a crawl to explain everything, and spent a little more time and effort on Jyn Erso’s characterisation it could have been perfect.

Highlights include:
  • Everything that Cassian Andor is and chooses to be.
  • Mads Mikkelsen
  • The fact that Chirrut and Baze and #Married
  • Badass Bail Organa
  • Anakin Skywalker's lava castle of man pain
  • "I am one with the force, the force is with me"
  • Actual hero Bodhi Rook
  • That one women at the rebel base that's all: "what is she proposing?"
  • Hope.