I haven’t done this in a while, so let’s talk Star Wars. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but there may be spoilers here.
Rogue One. Yes, it has flaws. No, I don’t care. I’m seeing a lot of hate online, but to my mind, everything that is being touted as a flaw actually strengthens the movie. The film was technically excellent, brilliant visuals, solid acting, great direction and sound, but mediocre meta-plot (let’s chase the info around), and a few largely pointless characters. In fact, I’d say this movie was solid overall. Yes, it could have been more, specifically underutilizing the threat of Vader, but it also could have been so much worse. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
So quick summary. This is, for my money, the best movie set in the Star Wars universe. However, this is NOT the best Star Wars movie. I say that because Rogue One does not follow the same beats as a traditional Star Wars movie. This isn’t a lonely boy-child rises to be the chosen one in a black and white universe where no one has even heard of moral ambiguity. This was a team effort, not Jedi saves/destroys the day yet again. We deviate from the Action/Adventure Space Fantasy for prepubescent teens and get a more grown-up movie without going all grim-dark.
For me, the modelling, set re-creation, and general feel of the move to reflect New Hope was a winner, but this was then built on by adding action & combat sequences that were actually really well done.
So to address the criticisms
Characters being too ‘special’.
There seems to be a lot of angst that these characters aren’t ‘everyman’ characters rising to overcome their humble backgrounds to become true heroes. Bollocks. Screw the hero’s journey, it’s been done to death in the main storylines.
In this instance, all the characters (even Bodhi in many ways) are outstanding individuals. They have to be if they have even the slightest chance of succeeding against an opponent with overwhelming superiority in manpower and resources. Jyn at 16 was an exceptional soldier in the most extreme faction of the rebellion (before succumbing to abandonment issues). Chirrut was an elite defender of the old Jedi temple only a few steps down from a Jedi himself (before the temple got trashed). Baze is packing a Mandalorian weapon and skill set. Even Cassius is one of the rebellions best operatives. These guys are all flawed, but they are badass and know what they’re doing. They have to be because they’re going up against an entrenched enemy stronghold and insurmountable odds.
This movie had characters, rather than caricatures. Star Wars has always required a suspension of disbelief, I mean who seriously doesn’t think Obi-Wan wouldn’t have spaced Luke the first chance he got after seeing he had all of Anakin’s worst traits? In this iteration, the characters were so much more believable and that allowed me to invest more heavily in the story.
As an added bonus, in this movie the Stormtroopers haven’t been told to deliberately miss, so they are a viable foe.
The Empire in this one is real, it’s in your face and active in every aspect of the world. This is an entrenched power, confident in its superiority. The rebel faction is at best an irritation, a gnat that is too agile for the behemoth to swat. That, right there, is the empires only weakness. It is too big, too powerful, too entrenched. With that size comes all the baggage of command structures, bureaucracy, petty power struggles, and an inability to react quickly to threats such as surprise rebel fleet attacks, or a surgical insertion of elite saboteurs. You know, those guerrilla tactics effective against a superior but inflexible opponent. Make no mistake, the Empire at no point appears threatened by these Rebels, and that is how it should be… right up to the moment their Achilles Heel is struck in episode IV.
oh, so many shout outs.
- Tarkin was being very Tarkinish
- Goldenrod and the blue beeper make an appearance… fanservice… Meh. (but I kind of cheered at the time).
- Senator Organa makes an appearance… kind of nice (I kind of grinned at the time)
- … and mentioned a female Jedi who he’d been hiding (yep… definite Clone-Wars grin at that one).
- Vader was in a bacta tank (cheers),
- … then made a ‘choke on it’ quip (groaned, but remembering the whiney arsed Hayden Christensen portrayal of Anakin, reluctantly accepted it),
- Vader did some Sith stuff (totally just fan service… yet WOW… totally worth it!)
Yeah, we could talk about Vader, Krennic and (maybe even Galen Erso, or General Draven) here but the true villain is the in-fighting that palgues Empire and the paralytic indecision on the Rebel; side. Krennic knows there has been a leak and is too busy trying to save his arse to simply quarantine the files or let anyone up the chain know that there could be an issue. Everyone else is going ‘we had a leak, your security sucks’ while Krennic knows full well the source was his chief engineer, a guy who just happens to have nothing left to lose. He’s the ONLY one who understands the seriousness of the issue, and he dies with his secrets. On the other side, Rogue One isn’t just fighting the Empire. It is also fighting the lack of support and entrenched leadership by committee, and that’s an enemy we can all relate to.
The Robot wasn’t funny
WTF? Seriously, what part of Star Wars has ever been funny? C3PO whinged, Jar-Jar annoyed, and even BB-whatever was merely cute. Star wars never did funny outside a bit of teenage pandering slapstick. That may be why I found the occasional dialogue induced chortle in this movie so refreshing. K-2SO wasn’t an amusing sidekick, it was a character that happened to be a robot.
This movie doesn’t need to exist
Okay, that’s true. But I’m very glad that it does. It’s just a shame that we aren’t likely to see these particular actors return to the Universe again.
This movie should have been the Saving Private Ryan of Star Wars
Yes, that would have been cool, but in case you missed the memo, Disney now owns Star Wars. So that was never going to happen.
Oh and Rogue One Easter Eggs That Slipped Right By You…
… I wonder if there is going to be a whole new generation of baby girls named Jyn now?
I just love it when an article comes along that is just perfect for one of the stories you’re working on. I was looking for a biological mechanism to provide radiation resistance for a population. Just in time along comes
… once again, water bears are the solution to my problems.
Why dystopia? Because it’s a cop-out.
It’s far harder to predict the changes and tribulations of an advanced society. So why not just assume we broke all our toys and reverted to barbarianism? After all, these stories sell.
Why not? Because we’re selling despair. Because we’re telling a whole new generation that they won’t succeed, so don’t try. Because there is a lot more challenge in predicting the changes in culture (and to a lesser extent technology), and therefore a lot more potential for good storytelling.
I’m not saying Dystopia bad; therefore Utopia good. I’m just wondering what happened to the golden age of sci-fi where anything was possible and the sky was the limit? Surely it’s better to look forward to a better world than to assume we’re going to screw it up and revert to banging each other over the head with crude weapons. And yes Zombie Genre I’m looking at you too!
David Brin puts it nicely over at his blog Contrary Brin. Go have a look.
Why all the re-blogs? Well, partly because I’m lazy, and partly because there is so much good material out there that it doesn’t need another voice adding to the echo chamber. Instead, I think it serves everyone better to just promote the work of those who have already spoken up.
If it is one thing I’ve learnt from the movies, it is that when aliens invade they are either humanoid with superior tech or bug-like and easily squashed. I don’t recall seeing many movies about bugs with superior technology. Just another way that Hollywood softened us up and served us on a plate to our conquerors.
They were lobsters. We went to war against lobsters. Blue and green, crustacean from another world. Of course, they weren’t crustacean, or even from another world really. They came from here, just next door across a rift in time and reality.
It was bad enough that we were fighting for our lives against alien beings that weren’t even vaguely alien in origin. In all fairness, they had been on this world, well on a version of this world, for longer than we had. At some point something had changed, the chance evolution that had led to the dinosaurs and then to humanity, had never happened.
They had become the apex creatures of their earth, developing for millennia. They had developed tools before the evolution of the feather, and by the time we were working out the combustion engine, they had mastered dimensional travel. Then they decided they wanted our world before we ruined it completely.