May 23, 2024

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The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One is a B+ Star Wars story about hope and rebels and the imperial bureaucrats that stand to gain nothing from joining the dark side. The movie is good! But there are good, bad, and ugly points that I think we should explore.

Rogue One is a B+ Star Wars story about hope and rebels and the imperial bureaucrats that stand to gain nothing from joining the dark side. The movie is good! But there are good, bad, and ugly points that I think we should explore.

THIS IS A SPOILER REVIEW, meaning, if you read any further, you will encounter content that could spoil the movie for you if you haven’t see it. Please note, you have been warned.

Coming off of the high of last year’s Star Wars block buster: The Force Awakens; Rogue One had big shoes to fill. You know when you have an older sibling that is super successful in high school, and paves the way for all teachers and adults there after to expect nothing but good things from the younger sibling? Yeah – this is the same feeling I’m sure the team who worked on Rogue One felt going into this project. How in the world are we going to live up to the standards that went before us?

It’s a good question to ask – because I think pressure definitely played a role in how the movie was edited, and what story they ultimately decided to tell. With a 2hr-13min run time, there is plenty of content to tell a good story, and yet – at times it fell short. Let’s first look at what I believe are strong points in the movie:

THE GOOD:

The movie felt like Star Wars: From the scenery, to the naming conventions, to the background characters; all the details you see in Rogue One are meticulously accounted for and flawlessly executed. You want to see characters you recognize? Check. You want to see new aliens that don’t look out of place? Check. You want a good interactive marketplace showdown? Check. How about a few ship and planets that make you feel like it’s 1979 again? Check – Check – Check. When you think back to how drastically different the prequels looked and felt, Rogue One takes a page from the Force Awakens handbook, and relies on practical effects mixed with the right amount of CGI to give us the feel we long for when we think “Star Wars.” Some of my favorite aspects is seeing the easter eggs throughout the movie located on newly introduced planets of Jedha and Scarif. The influx of images and artifacts from the “prequels” to the “originals” struck a nice balance without being obnoxious. For those that know me, you know a good mouse droid here and there really hit the spot, which wasn’t left out in the details of Rogue One either. So all in all – when you watch this movie, you will be sucked back into the Star Wars universe, and that’s a good thing!

New Memorable Characters: Obviously we’re going to meet a new set of characters that we either love or hate. A few that stood out as strong memorable characters were K-2SO (mouthy droid), and Chirrut Imwe (who I’ve deemed as Bamboo stick). K-2’s ability to infuse comedic relief at just the right moment was refreshing. There were definitely times where I thought his comedy routine was a bit forced, but it was forgivable due to the overall nature of the movie. The wit and brashness Alan Tudyk brings to the character is natural and welcome, I’m just sad we won’t see more of him in the future. Additionally, the character of Chirrut Imwe (old blind bamboo stick), really made the movie for me. He was by far the most interesting character. Chirrut is exactly the type of person I would expect to see in a Star Wars movie – his nature embraces The Force, and it makes the universe seem connected and hopeful. There were even moments I feel they could have taken further with Chirrut, and actually given him “stronger” force powers (because, let’s face it, he totally had force powers, right? RIGHT!?). In his final scene I would have loved to see him raise his hand towards the communication beacon and flip the switch from afar. That would have been awesome… and he could have still died gallantly. Alas, the ending the writers/editors chose for Chirrut was still good – and still showed the power of belief in The Force, something I appreciated they didn’t leave out. Also, can we get a shout out for Chirrut’s bamboo super stick? This thing was like a magical transformer. One minute it’s a staff, the next minute it’s a cross bow. Can I have one for Christmas?

WARS! WARS IN STAR WARS!: The battle scenes in this movie are flawless! They are epic, they are trilling, and they are beautifully shown through the eyes of all parties. There is a great line in the movie where Captain Cassian Andor says to the rebels: “Lets make every man feel like 10!” (in regards to comparing their small rebel numbers the the numbers of the Imperial Army). And they do – you can see how overpowering the Empire is compared to the Rebels, yet it doesn’t feel that way at times because the Rebels fight smarter, not harder. Every ship scene in space is epically choreographed, each ground attack is brilliantly realistic. I loved watching everything unfold, because my heart was racing and felt like I had a front seat to all the action. I would be remiss if I didn’t also call out the last 10 minutes of the movie where we get to see Darth Vader plow through the Rebel Alliance like a hot knife to butter. It’s just the right amount of Dark-side I would expect to see coming from Vader, and it was AWESOME!

Graphically stunning: I know I have already talked about the scenery, planets, extra details, etc – but I think we need to talk about CGI for just a moment. Because what they were able to accomplish when it comes to graphics was stunning. Most notable in my mind is how they were able to pull of Grand Moff Tarkin and (young) Princess Leia. This may not be popular opinion, but I really appreciated the depth of detail they went into making both of these characters look and feel like real people. Could you tell they were CGI, sure! The lips are always a dead give-away. But all in all the mastery of doing such life like characters did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the movie. Additionally, when you see the level of detail they created for each planet, you’ll see how beautifully talented the artists who worked on this really are. I mean – I was convinced the Planet of Scarif was real, and a place I should have considered honeymooning (minus the Imperial jerks). On that same level of artistic achievement, the battle scenes in space were so well drawn and executed, that it left you feeling woozy as you drifted and dived with each fighter pilot.

Now, I’m sure I’m leaving some things off the “good” list – and after I let my mind marinate around the movie a bit longer, maybe my list will grow. But for now – let’s move on to the “bad.”

THE BAD: 

Jyn Erso wan’t compelling enough: I hate to even say it. I do – I really do. I had such high hopes for Jyn. Hell – her name and mine are so closely related, I thought maybe I could use it as a nick-name. But now? Meh. I don’t care. And I’m sad that I don’t care. This was another great opportunity for the Star Wars universe to have a strong female lead, and it kind of fell flat for me. AND I HATE SAYING THAT! I want to lift Jyn up as a hero! I want her to look, feel, and be the leader I so wanted her to be! But alas, her story was just… boring. And I don’t blame Felicty Jones – I blame the editors. I’m sure there were hours upon hours of content to chose from to help build Jyn’s story correctly, but the small bits and pieces we saw (hell, the first hour of the movie) wasn’t enough for me to care about her character, or believe in anything she said or did. At one point I noticed that she hadn’t spoken in 20 mins!! 20 mins of the main character not saying one word is poor editing. And I would take it further to say that everything leading up to the destruction of Jedha wasn’t necessary to know about Jyn that we couldn’t piece together for ourselves through flashbacks or casual dialog. Where Rey in The Force Awakens didn’t need a 1 hr introduction, Jyn had the whole 2+ hrs and I still didn’t really care about her in the end. I can hear my feminist friends screaming right now. Ladies, ladies, it’s sad I have to say it – but this is not about her being a female character, it’s about the character itself (writing and editing) that falls flat and ultimately brings my rating down for Rogue One.

Other non-essential Characters: Okay, I get it. We’re trying to fill a 2 hr time slot and build an entire movie around the concept of stealing the Death Star plans. And in creating a story from nothing, we need characters. But did we need Saw Gerrera? Or even… his thought sucking squid monster? What the actual F***? Sorry Forrest Whitaker, your character was essentially B.S. and I could have done completely without it. Additionally, though I see the need for Cassian, I didn’t fall in love with his character either. Really – he had a few good moments, with a few good men, and then….death. It’s really hard to get behind a movie when you’re two main characters of Jyn and Cassian are just kind of “meh.” …. *sigh* this could have been so good if the editing would have been just a bit different. To cap off the theme of characters I don’t care about, enter Orson Krennic. His weak attempts to climb the ranks of the Imperial Army came off as whiny and entitled. His character didn’t seem menacing, he seemed more like a menace. And I’m sure there were great scenes cut that made him look and feel more like a powerful dictatorial Director, but all in all I was more annoyed with his character than by anyone else. I’m sorry guys.

1st half vs. 2nd half: This movie felt like two different movies that can be split into 1st half vs 2nd half. The first half of the movie where we meet Jyn and family and are briefly introduced to Saw, are tired if not down right boring. There is not enough information or time to devote to creating history for these characters to ensure we get a “feel” for how connected they are supposed to be. To the contrary, everything felt forced and fake due to the lack of time together. To remedy this, why not just take it out entirely? No need to have a whole backstory leading up to a rebel invasion to steal a major weapon plan. These characters could have all had no backstory, and yet that would have worked better than trying to force an hour worth of nonsense that made no difference in the end into the first half of the movie. 2nd half of the movie was all action. And I appreciated most of what happened in act 2. Except for one glaring issue… and that’s the ending sequence with Jyn and Cassian. There was a brief moment when I thought they were going to kiss in the elevator, or on the beach, or hell…. on the satellite tower. And believe me when I say this – if they did – I WAS GOING TO LOSE MY SH*T. Thankfully they did not. But it looked like it – it felt like it – so therefore it’s like they did. And there is no reason for that at all! God help me, we don’t need our main characters falling in love (in any sense of the term) in every f*cking movie! Just leave it out all together, don’t even hint at it. So help me god!

THE UGLY:

And now… for the ugly. There is one part, and one part alone that should not have been in Rogue One. I present to you:

Darth Vader jokes & other shenanigans: UUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! You know exactly what I’m talking about. The “force choke” joke Vader uses on Krennic. The issue with this is that VADER DOESN’T JOKE! No! This is so off, and so weird, and so awful. I groaned in the theater, and I know others around me did too. No – just no. Please don’t “force” us to “choke” down a joke like that again.

Overall, I give this movie 7 stolen plans out of 10. So there you have it! The good, the bad, and the ugly of Rogue One – Let me know what you think? Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your reactions to Rogue One.

One thing is for sure – I’m not complaining about having a Star Wars movie around Christmas time each year, it’s the gift that keeps on giving! May the force be with you… and also with you! (Yes, you too).