Rogue One : * * * * (= four out of five rogues.)
When I first saw it, I also gave The Force Awakens four stars, which in retrospect feels a little generous. I’m not going full South Park on this or anything, but most of what I really loved about that movie was that I was basically watching Star Wars again. Rogue One, despite the fact that it is essentially a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead-style behind-the-scenes story that runs parallel to the original Star Wars, is vastly more original.
This is not to say that Rogue One doesn’t lean heavily on the source material. As astute critics have pointed out, RO completely depends on you having seen SW– it never attempts to explain things like the Force, and the ending would be deeply unsatisfying if you didn’t already know that this is not the end.
But, whatever, I have seen Star Wars, so I do know that the Rebels succeed in blowing up the Death Star. (Oops! Spoilers!) So to me this was a wonderful companion piece that took nothing away from the original and filled in some holes– even some that I never really thought about before. (Like: Why isn’t there a big old Rebel fleet at Yavin 4 when the death star shows up at the end of Star Wars?)
There is definitely some of the usual Hollywood baloney in that the film often makes the choice to show a big cool explosion instead of having people (on either side) do something smart. But this is the nature of the medium– movies are more explodier and less smartier than books. I had a great time, as did HRH.
BEST IN SHOW:
5. Finding good ways to use previously unused footage of Red Leader and Gold Leader from the original trilogy. Very cool. This is the kind of recycling I can really get behind.
4. Warwick Davis playing a little alien dude with a BFG. I wanted more of this guy.
3. The sarcastic killbot and the we’re-not-jedi monks. Make this a TV show, in the vein of Kung Fu or Scooby-doo. Throw in Warwick Davis. To hell with continuity.
2. Darth Effing Vader striding down a dark and smoky corridor, cutting down rebel after rebel.
1. Five year old in the movie theater behind me asking aloud, “Are they dead?” during the final scene when our heroine and hero are nuked into radioactive vapor. Hilariously tragic.
WORST IN SHOW:
5. Zombie Leia. Her lines were good, but I just couldn’t stop wondering if she was a cartoon or a Cylon skinjob or what.
4. No Bothans. And, yes, the internet did remind me that the Bothans died to get the plans for the second death star– not the first one. And, no, I do not care. This movie should have killed a Bothan every three minutes. Two, maybe.
3. Zombie Tarkin. Shudder! Seriously uncannied my valley. Definitely knocked off a half star for this. Maybe a whole star.
2. Forrest Whittaker dying for absolutely no reason at all, other than he didn’t want to jog down to the spaceship. Lame. I mean, I would definitely die in that scene for the same reason, but I go to the movies for an escape.
1. Tarkin and Leia. So terrible. I can’t stress this enough.
Anyway, thanks, J.J. Abrams for a great Star Wars movie. It was tons of fun. And I look forward to handing over my money to see the next standalone Star Wars flick: OLYMPUS MON: THE MOTHMA STORY (coming in 2018).
[Cross-posted at House Of Payne.]