Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fantastic movie, but for fans that grew up watching the original trilogy, it’s something more. Rogue One has a Star Wars feel, but with more mature and more evolved sensibilities. For those longtime Star Wars fans that were kids when they first saw the originals, it’s a stellar experience. As their tastes have developed and matured, moviemaking has developed and matured. While I recommend the movie to anyone that’s the least bit nerdy, it’s a must-see (and see again) for sci-fi nerds of a certain age.
Having said all that, I had some minor issues with the film. As great as Rogue One was, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better movie with the original writers and without the reshoots. There were also some minor details that were convenient to the plot, but bothered me as a rational human being. That means, of course, it’s time for some random thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lock your S-foils in spoiler formation and let’s blow this thing (and go home?).
Two Sentences, One Movie: It’s amazing that a full, feature-length movie was made about two sentences found in the original Star Wars crawl. For those of you that don’t remember the lines, check ’em out.
Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
That those two sentences became an enjoyable 134 minutes is a remarkable thing, but not as remarkable as how much those 134 minutes made you care.
Caring About the Doomed: What impressed me most about Rogue One was how much it made you care about the events and the characters. You know that the good guys are going to walk away with the Death Star plans. Logically, you know that all of the protagonists are going to die (most likely in a horrible way). Yet somehow, you care about the journey and the people on it. You feel sad when the characters bite the dust — even the robot! While it’s a two-hour film that you know will end in doom, it’s still an incredible ride. Kudos to the writers and director for making the most entertaining tragic space adventure I’ve ever seen.
Girl Power: I love that Star Wars has more heroines now. Between Rey and Jyn, I wish I had a daughter that idolized them. It was also cool to see lots of female X-wing pilots.
Cassian Andor, Space Wuss: Early on in Rogue One, Cassian Andor coldly kills an informant for being dead weight. Based on that scene, I thought this character would be all kinds of cool — kind of like a Bad-Ass Outer-Space Inigo Montoya. Instead, he became more and more of a pussy as the movie went on. He disobeyed orders to kill Galen Erso when he had several seconds to take an easy shot. He joined Jyn’s rebellion-within-a-rebellion so that he could feel better about himself. Towards the end of the film, he made googly eyes at Jyn while waiting to die. The logical thing, of course, would be asking her for some quickie sex, like Chevy Chase’s character in Spies Like Us. You get that sense that Cassian was supposed to be the “cool” character, but he ends up getting pussified (like Wolverine).
Imperial Data Storage Sucks: Apparently the Empire didn’t believe in cloud-based storage and off-site backups. Instead, it kept critical and sensitive data on Zip Disks stored in a phallic symbol. Even more ridiculous was the fact that you had to play the claw game to extract the Zip Disks. The rebellion would have been squashed if the Empire used Dropbox.
Old Man Donnie: At 53-years old, Donnie Yen is simply amazing. I’ve been enjoying his movies for decades and it’s a pleasure to watch him kicking ass at a relatively old age. His character was cool too. While Yen was only a supporting character, he made the most out of his screen time.
The Gathering of the Rogues: Outside of the prologue scene, the first act was the weakest part of the movie. Things were a little too neat and convenient. The Gathering of the Fellowship happened quickly and felt forced. For example, Cassian was supposed to be an untrusting dick, yet he unnecessarily allowed two strangers to join the crew. Yes, all of those characters ultimately served essential purposes, but the team formation could have been less contrived.
A (Patchwork) Star Wars Story: This is the part I can’t help but wonder about. Rogue One’s story was written by John Knoll and the fabulous Gary Whitta. The script was written by Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz. Director Gareth Edwards had to reshoot several scenes and the rumor is that Disney ordered him to do so. While I greatly enjoyed the movie, I wonder if a better version exists in an alternate universe — one where Whitta wrote the entire script and Edwards directed the movie as he originally envisioned. There are some parts of the movie that felt like corporate hands were touching them. Perhaps a purer version of Rogue One would have been even more amazing. That’s just conjecture, of course.
Easter Eggs Galore: I loved all the callbacks to the original Star Wars. There are so many of them! Some of them were minor — blue milk, the comedic duo of Dr. Cornelius Evazan & Ponda Baba, and more. While some of the OG characters, like Mon Mothma and Jan Dodonna, were important to the rebellion (and continuity), some of them were throwaways. For example, C-3PO and R2-D2 were there simply to maintain their perfect attendance records. That said, I totally geeked out when I saw the original Red leader and Gold Leader pilots. I also chuckled when Red 5 died
so that the galaxy could have a better pilot.
For the record, I didn’t have a problem with CGI Tarkin and Leia. Some people could tell they were products of digital trickery and some couldn’t. Besides, 19-year old Carrie Fisher was hot.
The Ugliness of War: One of two cool things Cassian did in the movie was admit that he’s done several unforgivable things in the name of the rebellion. It always bothered me that a galactic civil war was portrayed in such a black-and-white manner in the first six Star Wars movies. I appreciated that Rogue One showed the rebellion’s dark side. It made the whole conflict feel more realistic.
Saul Guerrero: Hearing someone with a British accent say “Saw Gerrera” sounds funny. My ears kept hearing “Saul Guerrero.” In my head, he’s the adopted African-American Jewish kid that was adopted by the wrestling Guerrero family…and time traveled to a galaxy far, far away. I’d like to think that others had similar thoughts.
Closing Thoughts: Anyway, that’s enough randomization on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s a fantastic film and I’m definitely going to watch it in theaters again. Of course, I want to hear your thoughts on the movie. Kindly share them in the comments section.
Lastly, I’m going to get you out of here on this. Some people are speculating that Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus were a couple. Certainly they were close and the line, “I don’t need luck. I have you,” sounds like something an old married couple (of freedom fighters) would say. Others believe that they were merely brotherly allies. What do you think?
[More random thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were posted here, after watching the movie for a second time.]