(Spoilers ahead for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. For those of you who haven't seen the film yet, will you rebel and be spoiled?)
The hype surrounding Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has come to the end, and the initial glamor of the film has worn off. Looking back, the critics gave Rogue One a good amount of praise, and the film still holds a respectable 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — but is the movie worthy of a B+ rating? I don’t think so. Whoa, hold on! Don’t force choke me just yet, let me explain.
The consensus of the critics is that the movie was good, but different to your standard Star Wars fare, because it had a dark and realistic ending. Usually, the main heroes in a Star Wars movie are able to overcome the odds and live on to fight another day, even if they are incredibly annoying (I'm looking at you, Jar Jar Binks). However, the heroes in Rogue One aren't as lucky as Jar Jar, and they all bite the big one. The death of the Rogue One squad was jarring — sure, it helped to set this movie apart from other Star Wars films, but for several reasons, I felt a disturbance in the force as the plot of the movie played out.
I’m not trying to troll Star Wars fans by intentionally being negative. In fact, I am a Star Wars fan. I just don’t think Rogue One is that warm, comfortable tauntaun carcass that is Episodes IV through VII. It may have the same look as those films, but there were aspects of Rogue One that seemed out of place compared to the rest of the franchise. Yes, the movie explains the biggest plot hole of A New Hope; however, it doesn’t do much more than that, which is disappointing.
Don’t get me wrong, Rogue One is not a bad movie; however, after thinking about what the movie did to support the Star Wars movie franchise, I think Rogue One is more of a C+ movie than a B+ movie, for the following reasons.
1. Crawl, Or Do Not, There Is No Try
I know this might be nitpicking, but I found it disappointing that Rogue One didn't have an opening crawl. It’s like getting a pair of your favorite shoes without the laces. Every Star Wars movie that came before had the crawl, and it's what makes the Star Wars movies unique. Removing the crawl helped to separate Rogue One from the tentpole Star Wars episodes, but it’s a Stars Wars movie. You are either a Star Wars movie, or your not. If you’re a Star Wars movie, then have the damn crawl.
2. Da Da Da, Da Ta Da
John Williams scored every single Star Wars movie except for Rogue One, and it was obvious. The familiar musical crescendos that would get your rebel blood pumping were replaced by forgetful tones and muddy music too bogged down in mood to be exciting. I was surprised that Michael Giacchino's score failed to invoke any type of emotional response. Gone, for the most part, were those memorable musical beats written by John Williams that made me fear the dark side, and root for the good guys. Maybe the reason the soundtrack wasn't spectacular was because the composer was only given a month to write the music.
3. Darth Vader The Comedian?
I have to admit that the prequels ruined my view of Darth Vader as a super badass. Instead, the prequels put a whiny teenager full of angst into the most fearful suit in the galaxy. All that was missing was Anakin wearing a ripped Ramones t-shirt and having a nose ring. That aside, Rogue One caught me off-guard when a mature Anakin force-choked Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), and said:
Be careful not to choke on your aspirations.
Lord Vader doesn't use puns. Lord Vader lets his force-choking do all the talking. If you ask me, the whole thing felt a bit forced (pun intended).
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4. Your Lack Of Character Depth Is Disturbing
It was hard to feel anything for young Jyn Erso (Dolly Gadsdon) when Director Orson Krennic came for her family, because there was no Erso family backstory. We should have seen what caused the Erso family to give up a life of luxury within the Empire for a simple life of farming. I’m not saying that a long period of time had to be spent on their backstory, just enough time to get us invested in the family. When tragedy struck, it felt hollow because the characters were unknown to me. I felt more over the barbecuing of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru due to the fact that some time was dedicated to them and their relationship with Luke before they died.
I also found the Rogue One crew to be too anti-heroic and bland to be likeable or memorable. I will say this: it was a bold move for Disney to green light all of the main protagonists going the way of Bambi's mother.
S5. More TIE-ins To The Original Trilogy Should Have OccurredS
There were some cool easter eggs tucked into Rogue One, and two digital cameos I didn't see coming. However, I would have liked to have seen the depth of the Star Wars mythos deepened, and the original trilogy story complemented more significantly by Rogue One. For instance, what's old Ben Kenobi up to? Where the hell was Darth Sidious? Shouldn't Darth Vader be doing more than taking a warm bath fueled by the lava on Mustafar? The list of possibilities is endless. If you're going to play in the original trilogy sandbox, then at least play with the characters that have some meaning, instead of Pig-Nose and Butt-Chin.
Like I said, I don't think Rogue One is a bad movie; however, I think more could have been to make it a truly memorable addition to the Star Wars franchise. Sure, some of the stuff I said was nitpicky, but I believe the standalone films should be just as influential as the central episodes to the overall franchise. My hope is that the standalone films to follow won't stray too far from the original source material by trying to be too independent. Whether or not you agree with me about Rogue One, at least there's one thing we can probably all agree on: we can't wait until the release of Episode VIII.