The Internet Can’t Decide if Rogue One is the Best or Worst Thing Ever

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If you ask me, Disney’s Star Wars Episode III.5, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is awful. It’s a cynical and lazy epitomization of all that’s wrong with movie franchises these days. It’s the second worst movie of the year.

If you ask J.A., Disney’s Star Wars Episode III.5, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a very good film, easily a hundred times better than The Force Awakens and shows a ballsiness that’s missing from almost all movie franchises these days.

We never disagree about anything movie-wise, except on Christopher Nolan and movies with the word “Stardust” either in the title or in the plot. So, I thought we could take this rare opportunity to duke it out on behalf of the rest of the internet, currently engaged in the first Internet War of 2017, and settle this thing.

Time for a Star Wars War.

Disclaimer: This post contains hyperbole. Also spoilers.

Why Rogue One is the Worst Thing Ever:

Rogue One gets both Star Wars and War Movies wrong. It assumes that both can be successful if the action is pretty enough and doesn’t understand that both Star Wars movies and War Movies are not built on action but character, and Rogue One‘s lazy cutout archetypes do not do the job. When the third act kicks in, sure the action is dazzling, but the point of action sequences in a war flick is to make us fear and dread for the characters we love. And when Rogue One barely even halfasses its attempts at characterization, the emotional beats and peril feel unearned. The result: Boredom.

Why Rogue One is the Best Thing Ever:

Rogue One is uncompromising in its vision of the darker underside of the Star Wars galaxy, showing rebels who are more than clean-cut heroic pilots and heroes who don’t always make it out alive. The film never considers for a moment making everything a bit cleaner and more kid-friendly. Whilst this isn’t exactly what I’d want in a regular Star Wars film, here it works very well. The film quickly establishes itself as something that takes place in the Star Wars universe, but shows a very different side of the galaxy. Its visuals are spectacular and inspired, from the very Dune-esque Jedha to the shot of the Death Star eclipsing the sun. Contrary to what Jaden says, I think the characters are compelling and the final act was emotionally moving. It isn’t perfect, but Rogue One is a damn good film.

 

Why Rogue One’s Characters are the Worst Thing Ever:

I mean, can anyone who watched the film describe their personalities to me? If you say Jyn is rebellious and stubborn, are you saying that because the movie proved it or the trailer said so? Both “I rebel” and “on your own from the age of fifteen, reckless, aggressive, and undisciplined” are not in the finished product. What the movie shows you is, well, I don’t know what it’s trying to show you. Jyn certainly starts out as a sort of titular Rogue, but very quickly loses any sense of stubborn independence to be a hopey changey Rebel. Raised by Forest Whittaker, you’d expect her to hold onto his extreme ideals a little longer. Then again, you’d expect Forest Whittaker to do that. Instead, despite being set up as a Rebel who went too far, his character doesn’t do anything to show disillusionment with the Alliance. He interrogates an Imperial pilot and delivers an extremely unearned and saccharine mini-monologue before sacrificing himself for… what, exactly? The other characters all have one or no traits. K2SO is funny. Donnie Yen is spiritual. His friend isn’t. In the trailer, his friend is revealed to be an Alliance recruiter who lost his home to the Empire. Neither of these parts to his backstory are in the movie. When your trailer has more characterization than your movie, you done screwed up.

I want to go on, but seeing as there’s two writers and many sections to come I can stop there. For now.

Oh, and it screwed up Darth Vader. How do you screw up Darth Vader? Who turns Darth Vader into someone who makes puns? What is this, Batman And Robin????

Why Rogue One’s Characters are the Best Thing Ever:

Jyn Erso makes a powerful journey from someone who believes that there’s no changing things, no hope, no point getting involved, to somebody who’s willing to give everything for the cause her father and father figure believed in, to prevent more atrocities from happening. Cassian Andor goes from a man who’ll follow orders to the letter to a man who’ll disobey his superiors for what he thinks is right. Bodhi finds his courage and resolves his uncertainty. Baze Malbus rediscovers the faith he lost just when things seem darkest. Saw Gerrera is a man who started as an idealist but has been driven half-mad by war, finally sacrificing himself because he cannot bear to go on any longer. I could go on, but I think my point is made. There’s definitely a lot of characterization here and a good deal of development.

Oh, and it made Darth Vader perfect. Darth Vader making puns is amazing. I want all his dialogue in the original trilogy redubbed with puns. Also, it isn’t without precedent. From the Episode III Novelization (amazing book, by the way. You should all read it):

“We were promised we’d be left in peace!”

“The translation was garbled. You’ll be left in pieces.”

Paraphrased because my copy of the book and I are on different continents right now. But my point is made: punny Vader is the best Vader.

Why Rogue One’s Action is the Worst Thing Ever:

In a vacuum, or trailer, the action is wonderful. In context of the actual movie, it provided a slight tinge of excitement, followed by me checking my non-existent watch. It goes back to what I said in the opening. The action sequences here are unearned. Think back to the Battle of Endor and the final duel in Return of the Jedi. Obviously, the action in Rogue One is going to look better. But isn’t the point of an action scene to provoke thrills? I would argue that Endor and the duel between Vader and Luke is far more thrilling, because of the personal conflict. You understand these characters, even Vader. Seeing father and son fight each other as pawns of the Emperor evokes emotion and dread. In Rogue One, I couldn’t care less who lived or died. So the action was meaningless. Even that one scene everyone loves with Darth Vader, while I admit it was the coolest scene in the movie, it was basically watching a bunch of greenshirts die and there’s no tension over whether Vader will get the plans back because you already know the Rebels steal the plans.

Moreover, it pulls my single biggest pet peeve in movies. The climactic moment of the movie is Jyn being cornered by Crinnick on that walkway. She has no way around him, and Cassian has just been killed. It’s up to her to have her hero moment and work a way out of it…

But no, Cassian’s not dead, he shoots Crinnick from behind. Jyn Erso, unsung hero of the rebellion, does nothing heroic besides “be the daughter of the guy who built a flaw in the Death Star.”

Why Rogue One’s Action is the Best Ever:

The action scenes are all very good, with the final battle being a highlight for me. Admiral Raddus ordering the Hammerhead to hit one Star Destroyer into another was great, the X-Wing combat was great, the showdown with Krennic on the walkway was great, everything was pretty great. I also liked the gritty realism of the Jedha rebel attack.

Closing thoughts: Best Thing Ever

Look, at the end of the day, the film isn’t perfect: Bail Organa weirdly stands there in the first scene and says nothing, there were obviously massive reshoots, Saw doesn’t do very much, and the CGI used for Tarkin and Leia will probably haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. I went into this film thinking about how big of a disappointment The Force Awakens was and how much I hate Gareth Edwards’s Godzilla movie with every fiber of my being and I was entirely prepared to come out saying that it was just as bad as The Force Awakens and Star Wars is doomed. Yet somehow I came out liking it anyway. It felt bold, dark, entirely unlike the “by-the-numbers” completely unartistic The Force Awakens. It was good and suggests that maybe we do have hope for the future of Star Wars after all.

Closing Thoughts: Worst Thing Ever

I give this movie nothing outside of having neat production quality. It is a symptom of a larger disease, revealing everything wrong with movie franchises these days. It’s cynical in its clear lack of effort and confidence that its half-hearted effort is all that is needed to be a success as long as Star Wars gets slapped onto the title. If this movie had been an attempt at an original franchise, it would have bombed. Simple as that. The characters are one-dimensional archetypal cutouts in a by-the-numbers heist script that has the gall to pretend that it’s earned emotional beats that have no power behind them. Forest Whittaker’s “sacrifice,” Jyn’s sudden turn from rogue to rebel, none of it carries any weight. They are emblamatic of the movie itself. Superficial noise. Illusions of grandeur. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 

One thought on “The Internet Can’t Decide if Rogue One is the Best or Worst Thing Ever

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  1. My issue with Rouge One: A Star Wars Story is that it was totted as filling a plot hole from Episode 4 A New Hope. The “plot hole” was that it was so easy to destroy the Dearth Star that someone had to have built it with that weakness in mind. However, in Episode 4 it explains that the thermal exhaust port was a small one just below the main one. Additional the port was at the end of a trench that was defended by turrets and the port itself was ray shielded and it took a the son of one of the most powerful Jedi every to make the shot to cause the chain reaction that destroyed it. So, answer me where is the plot hole?

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