By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Another year, another Star Wars film. Rogue One starts off as a promising and rebellious little bastard but ends up just being a bastard.
Rogue One is basically about a dangerous mission to steal the original Death Star plans in order to help the Rebel Alliance destroy it in A New Hope, the first and original Star Wars film. Leader of the ‘Rogue One’ group is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a rebel and daughter of Galan Erso, the engineer who helped design the Death Star.
I’m not really sure where to begin with this one. So far it’s received quite decent reviews and some even say that it’s the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. What? No, it’s not.
What Rogue One IS though is one of the most culturally diverse films in the franchise. There are actors from all over the world playing all sorts of ‘could be’ interesting roles. There’s also a lead female role which is something that’s STILL missing from a lot of other blockbuster franchises.
For the cast it had, I’m a little disappointed by the cardboard acting that I saw in some of the scenes. The best performance was probably by Ben Mendelsohn as imperial bad guy Krennic. Jones is generally ok as Jyn as well, but Diego Luna as her partner in crime Cassian was very so-so. Not sure if he was the right person for such a role as he just looked awkward and uncomfortable for majority of the film. Even Forest Whitaker was a bit off. His breathing mask and ridiculous voice made some in the cinema even break out in laughter – it was just too contrived. Let’s leave the breathing issues to Vader, shall we?
And I think that’s the main issue I have here with Rogue One, and with the last movie The Force Awakens. It’s just all too contrived now – it’s all been done, hasn’t it? There’s no way this franchise can make an original spin-off movie that introduces new characters and concepts AND shake the typical Star Wars formula up a bit without harking back to the same regurgitated stuff that we’ve seen a million times over.
I mean, the things they had to do in the second half of this movie just to get to these epic cliche battles were so messy and confusing. So much shooting, climbing, and button pushing just to send a little email with some Death Star plans. All to make the fans happy, but are they happy? The Empire Strikes Back shook up your standard action/sci-fi narrative a lot, and was packed with twists and turns. How this can be compared to that is beyond me.
You know what else they did to make fans happy? Bit of a *SPOILER ALERT* for this next part. Characters from A New Hope were brought back via CGI. Am I the only one that finds this incredible weird and a little disrespectful? It seemed way too desperate to me. Let’s leave the original trilogy alone now.
But by far the worst thing for me was the blind sort of Jedi that was there to painfully remind us every 5 minutes that the force was still in this movie, so your average fan couldn’t get angry about the lack of Jedi. His most repetitive line “I am one with the force and the force is with me” sounds like something a fundamentalist Christian cult member would say before drinking cyanide… and this guy repeats it over and over and over again. Painful.
Gareth Edwards is a wonderful director though and I really loved his earlier film Monsters and his 2014 remake of Godzilla. Some of the beautiful art direction in both of those movies can also be seen in Rogue One – those sequences of the Death Star looming above Jedha are truly haunting. There were also some nice political statements buried in there as well which was nice to see. And Vader, though not in it much, is BRILLIANT when he is.
However, the sad truth is that there are just too many expectations to meet with big franchises like this one. Maybe as a stand alone film this would’ve been alright. The Han Solo film currently in the works may be something worth getting into, but I’m sure they’ll find some silly ways to make epic and useless battles there too. Next up: Episode VIII. Thank god it’s not out for a year because I think I’m all star-warsed out.
Feature photo: Business Insider