We here at Gabbing Geek have been getting by OK mostly because I write a lot of stuff and Jimmy posts when he can…but the three Geek Founders? No sign of ’em lately…until last Friday, when all three posted a review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
As the person who writes most of the reviews will tell you…well, you can go see their stuff if you really want to. I mean, Watson says some stuff, and then Ryan adds some more, but those guys largely gave a quick non-spoiler type review, and then Jenny went all spoilerific with her own.
But the review you need? One with no real spoilers to it? That’s mine. See it here.
So, here we have the first Star Wars spin-off, and there’s some nifty ideas floating around here, but the movie itself has some massive problems that prevent some of these ideas from coming to fruition. Those massive ideas are basically the characters in the movie, most notably Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso. Jones is a good actress, but there’s nothing to this role, and unlike the rest of her small squad of rebels looking to steal the plans to the original Death Star, Jyn doesn’t even have the bonus of having a fun quirk to make up for her lack of a personality.
For example, why does she agree to help the Rebellion? She initially is hostile, then changes her mind. Nothing in the script or Jones’ performance seems to show the change of allegiance. She just does. It can’t be she bonded with the others because the film doesn’t show that. Yet the others care for her for reasons best left unexplained, or perhaps should have been explained. She’s not an inspiring leader. Heck, I’m not sure she even is the leader here.
In a way, that may be intentional. George Lucas’ original saga wasn’t much interested in creating characters as using characters to tell a story based somewhat off Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey ideas. And when the actors playing those characters realize that, they do OK. When they don’t, you get some of the worse performances in the prequels Ryan won’t acknowledge. Star Wars was always, at its core, a tribute of sorts to the old movie serials of the 30s and 40s that Lucas enjoyed growing up. Good guys were good, bad guys were evil, and that was all you had to know. Only the occasional Han Solo or maybe a Finn can break that cycle with a particularly charismatic performance, adding dimensions to characters that otherwise wouldn’t have any.
So, there’s a bit of promise here with some of how Rogue One turned out. The heroes are a Rebel spy group, one that engages in acts of sabotage and, when necessary, assassination. That seems more befitting a real war film as opposed to a Star Wars film, and there’s some real potential for interesting growth in the galaxy far, far away as a result. But then the end of the movie comes along, the movie basically becomes an intergalactic Dirty Dozen, and we can forget all of that for a straight-forward action sequence.
True, it’s a freakin’ great sequence, one that makes up for much of the rest of the movie, but it doesn’t change the fact that we lost some potentially interesting shades of grey there.
Likewise, main bad guy Director Krennic, dressed in white to the usual Imperial gray or black, and with his own personal Stormtroopers, makes for a potentially interesting villain as he’s portrayed less as pure evil and more as a career-minded bureaucrat with an evil undercoating.
As it is, what director Gareth Edwards comes up with is a movie that looks a lot like Star Wars, has the potential to explore new ideas in that universe, includes some neat visuals of the Death Star looming over the horizon a few times, and some really terrific action scenes interspersed with the occasional Easter Egg or cameo, some of them done with so-so special effects (lookin’ at you, CGI Tarkin). This movie both simultaneously looked like a regular Star Wars film and made some suggestions about what that universe could also be. Now, if they actually do that in the future, so much the better.
Let’s say seven out of ten Vader puns.
Vader should not make puns.
3 thoughts on “Geek Review: Rogue One”
I think Jyn’s speech about chances is just right. She doesn’t go all Once More Unto the Breach.. She lays it out, F-this style, do the math, solve one problem, then the next and maybe we’ll get to come home.
Jyn believes the moment she gets the message. I’m not sure how you missed that pivotal moment. It was pretty clear. The second note was after they steal the shuttle. The third in the chord is clearly when she quotes Cassian at the meeting.
How can you not rally around her after the meeting when Rogue One assembles for the first time?
I give it 8 Magnificent Sevens out of 10.
The speech from the reshoot? Meh. I would’ve been more interested in hearing her original speech with the “I rebel” line.
Except the “I rebel” line was from her first visit to “Yavin 4”.