by Mike Lunsford, Editor
Here I sit, 72 hours removed from seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I’ve had a chance to digest what I saw, how I felt about it and discussed those said feelings with others, as movie geeks loves to do. If I had written this piece immediately after viewing I might be typing in all caps and using phrases like “now in my top 3 Star Wars movies list.” I want to go into great detail about what I loved about Rogue One, but first I want to tackle something that has really irked me: how insane some fans get about this franchise. I’m a fan, in fact one could call me a superfan. However, there is a line that I will draw in the sand. I refuse to be the sort of person who searches for flaws.
Now, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve probably read other content out there about the new movie. This will not be like those at all. While I’m on the topic, before I get into my thoughts, I want to rant for a moment:
- I am ALREADY tired of hearing people complain about continuity connecting. The movie has been out for a handful of days and I’m already over it. What am I talking about? Here, let me give you the prime example:
- **************************SPOILER ALERT***************************************
- SERIOUSLY, SPOILER ALERT! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!
- Darth Vader has a scene in the last few minutes of the movie where he DESTROYS Rebel soldiers. If you were unfazed by the spoiler alerts and you think that my all caps description of his attack on the Rebels is hyperbole, oh my friend, you are sorely mistaken. In his quest to retrieve the stolen Death Star plans, we get to witness the fallen Jedi obliterate his opposition by wielding both his red-bladed lightsaber and the Force. He makes quick work of at least 10-15 Rebel soldiers without so much as a scratch to his polished black armor.There are people who are mad that he was this powerful in Rogue One and in A New Hope he struggles to fight crusty, decrepit old-man Obi-Wan. “Why didn’t he mop the floor with the Rebels on the Tantive IV instead of using all those Stormtroopers? If he’s such a badass, couldn’t he have just done it himself? He was winded fighting Obi-Wan!!! This makes no sense.” Oh for crying out loud, WHO CARES???? You just got to see Darth Vader be the badass that we all knew he was and you’re complaining that the movie that started it all, that is now 39 years old, isn’t as gritty as the brand new film? OK, I get it. You have a keyboard and access to the internet (just like me) and you therefore think that pointing out these things is in someway necessary. You feel it’s your duty as a Star Wars fan.
Let’s use our brains for a moment here: Maybe after killing a dozen soldiers, marching back to his shuttle, pursuing the Rebels, boarding ANOTHER ship, choking out Captain Antilles, yelling at Princess Leia … maybe the guy who lost all of his limbs, was set on fire and left for dead could be tired. Yes, he’s strong in the Force, but he’s also a burn victim wearing 80 lbs of armor that serves as a portable iron lung that he only can take off in special designated places. Give the guy a break.
The world isn’t a perfect place. Questions go unanswered. Sometimes, we need to use deductive reasoning and not expect every single plot point to be laid out in front of us. We’re smart viewers. We’ve read the tech manuals. We know how cumbersome and painful Vader’s suit is. Instead of being so focused on what’s wrong, we should focus on what was right, what is beautiful. Sometimes all we can expect from beauty is a single moment. Darth Vader slicing fools like they owed him Imperial credits was one of those beautiful things.
- “The CGI of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia were really cheesy” has been a complaint as well. This one I can’t defend as vehemently as I did the Vader piece. This is more about personal taste and how knit-picky you are. I got excited, personally when I saw Tarkin turn around and the dude looked and sounded like him. I was impressed. It mad me feel like they had found someone who looked a ton like Peter Cushing or just did some pretty great CGI. Either way, they gambled on the new tech and I feel like it was a win. Granted, I feel like most of the people who didn’t like it were sitting there with their arms crossed with a scowl on their face. There was no way to win them over. Wait…they kind of looked like this guy:
- A news outlet, who shall remain nameless (because they don’t pay us for mentioning their name haha) used a headline that stated something to the effect of “Rogue One puts the war back in Star Wars.” Of course, the internet had a field day with this. “Uhmm, duh, hello??? There were massive battle scenes in Ep II, Ep III and in all 3 of the original trilogy! THIS STORY IS LAME!”
That’s the problem: You can’t take a title or headline at face value and not read the rest of the article. If you hadn’t been too busy creating a meme with your very valuable internet time (for the lolz of course), then you would have seen that the reviewers were saying that it had the feeling of a war movie involving humans and not a space fantasy with laser guns, magicians wielding light-swords, and a gaggle of robots. It felt gritty, it felt frenetic, like a real war movie. Damn kids and your internet, ruining everything…
- There were lines/scenes in the trailers that never actually happened in the movie. Now, if the same sort of fan who was losing their minds over Vader’s lack of mobility were to grasp this, it would have been venomous outrage. “This was a bait & switch! We were duped! Where was the TIE fighter showing up to the broadcast tower that Jyn walks towards?”
- Most of the people who took notice of this and analyzed it in detail did a fantastic job of using fact-based assumptions. It was stated several months before the release of the film that there were a number of reshoots done before the final product was released. They determined that the reshoots were the explanation for the changes between previews and film. This is the kind of fanboy I can get behind!
Now that I’m done ranting…let’s move on to my feelings about Rogue One. This movie is already at a disadvantage: we know that the characters we’re getting to know will be dead by the time the credits roll. That eliminates a lot of the mystery. However, I am a firm believer in the following mantra when it comes to storytelling: Every story has been told before; it’s how you execute it that makes the difference. This movie was well executed. You care about what happens to our rag-tag group of Imperial conspirators. Could there have been more of a role for certain characters? Of course, and we will not here the end of it from the diehard fans.
That is a common theme with Star Wars fans, turning bit players into legends. For crying out loud, look at Boba Fett! He has a grand total of 5 minutes of screen time between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and managed to become a favorite. His fans are so passionate that many of them believe that his demise via Sarlacc was not the final. Ultimately, his fate is “unknown,” but let’s be honest. He’s not coming back unless it’s you acting out scenes with your action figures. It’s cool. No one is judging you.
Rogue One also did an excellent job of giving depth to an entity that was lacking definition in the original trilogy: The Rebel Alliance. For decades, the Rebel Alliance was simply “the good guys.” They fighting along side Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia and a few had some names and did some cool stuff (like Wedge) but what did we really know about the Rebellion? Rogue One gave the Rebel Alliance some much needed depth. We see that it’s not just Mon Mothma making all the decisions. They truly work like the democracy they are fighting to re-establish.
In that same vain, we see that the Rebellion is not comprised of your altruistic “white knights.” You have some scoundrels who are willing to get their hands dirty. Those willing to do the unsavory jobs become the backbone of the infamous mission to get the Death Star plans. Their commitment to getting the job done no matter what is shown early when Cassian sets the tone on Jedha. If it wasn’t for these volunteers turned badasses, the Rebellion would have been dead in the water. It fits perfectly with A New Hope and closes up the biggest plot hole in the Star Wars universe; why the hell a thermal exhaust port can blow up the whole space station.
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