This week the Captain takes a look at something he admits he’s not a fanboy of…Star Wars.
Will he be able to stomach the newest installment of the franchise?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I really loved this movie. If you were expecting me to shit on this like I usually do in these reviews you’ll be disappointed. I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, but like EVERYONE, I have seen all the movies. I don’t see myself as biased to this franchise as a lot of other people are. I don’t love them and I don’t hate them. That is if you don’t count the prequel films, which I don’t. Those I do hate.
The original films just never connected with me the way say something like The Last Starfighter did. Where the hell are my Last Starfighter sequels by the way, damn it?!
I do think that this film panders to the fanboys, it’s kind of a sloppy love letter to them, almost acknowledging that they aren’t kids anymore and deserve a more grown up Star Wars film. Well, grown up about as much as someone who still buys and plays with Star Wars toys.
I enjoyed The Force Awakens but I have to say I really enjoyed Rogue One more. There’s a lot I could nitpick about with Force Awakens and I’m really struggling with finding things I didn’t care for with Rogue One.
I have heard others complain. And one of their main complaints is character development. Or lack thereof. Honestly, yes, I can see how that might matter, but to me, what mattered more was character motivation. Take Batman v Superman, they both had a ton of backstory, did it help any? No, you know what it didn’t have for its characters? Fucking motivation!
In Rogue One everyone has a reason for everything they are doing. Jyn Erso wants to see her father again, and spoilers I guess, when he dies she wants revenge and the best way to do that is fuck up the Empire’s Deathstar.
Andor, well, he has been doing this since he was 6 years old, he doesn’t need any other motivation than this is his fucking mission. Granted we do get the fact he was with the rebel alliance since 6 through some exposition dialogue, aka character backstory, but we really didn’t need to understand this guy’s motivations. He hates the Empire, so therefore he is going to do whatever it takes to help defeat them.
Blind monk’s motivation is he’s going where he thought the force was taking him. This is what he needed to do and this is where he needed to be because “the force” needs it to be. Maybe you could complain that isn’t much of a motivation, but if it helps any he did just have his Jedi temple get destroyed.
His companion, his motivation was to just kill more Stormtroopers. Because fuck them Stormtroopers.
The Empire pilot defector, okay, his motivation is less clear. Like Force Awakens did with Finn, not everyone working for the evil Empire is evil themselves. Maybe that’s the only job he could get, didn’t Luke say something about wanting to join up with the Empire in A New Hope? I could be remembering that wrong.
It just seems like any job you take, is most likely going to be working for the Empire in some way. That doesn’t mean you’re a Nazi like most of the people we’ve seen, like those working on the Deathstar, hell, maybe even then it’s like… fuck it, it pays the bills and I got a family back home to support, so fuck it. As long as it ain’t my planet they’re blowing up, I’m cool.
In summation, I think character motivation is more important than character backstory. And your retort would be well how are we supposed to feel anything for these characters if we know nothing about thaem? And I say… fair point. Usually that is a plus, but here for this movie, it really didn’t bother me. This is Star Wars, the characters with the most personality are usually droids.
Okay, so should I even mention the prequels? Why bother, right? Though this film does tie in the rest of the prequel films with this one by reintroducing Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa, Princess Leia’s stepdaddy.
The prequels had many many problems, the fact it didn’t have a main character didn’t help. But the endless scenes of political talk, people sitting down to talk politics, people standing around talking politics… it was Star Wars for grownups… that also features a slapstick character that steps in shit.
I have the feeling George Lucas didn’t really give a shit with the prequels, he saw that the toy line wasn’t selling as well as it used to, so why not just make a few more films to rejuvenate sales, because face it, this is all about selling toys.
And the fact the prequels were just so damn lazy… He wrote like one draft at the last minute and that’s what they went with, he had no one there telling him something didn’t work. He just didn’t care. What color should Yoda’s blood be? I don’t know… hmm. Green I guess. The best thing to ever happen to this franchise was to take it away from Lucas.
Rogue One is not for kids. They might try to make toys from this, but in no way is it for kids. This is for the people who grew up loving the series. There won’t be a sequel to this film, the characters in this all fucking die, there’s no way to endlessly (blue) milk this.
Oh, spoilers by the way.
Maybe that’s one reason why I like this more than The Force Awakens. As much as I liked that film, it did seem to pander to a bunch of different groups, even yes, for the toy line.
Rogue One has two Asian characters, maybe trying to get more of a Chinese audience to pay attention. But that’s just how things are these days. You want to make your money back and then some, it has to do well overseas, that means China. So I can’t really blame them for that. They’re also introduced in the right way, not in a pandering way, like hey, we need some diversity, so here’s this minority. They weren’t background dressing, they served a purpose, and ended up being my favorite characters. Even if I can’t remember their names…
I feel like maybe I should now address the plot.
If you know Star Wars, you already know this story. I already mentioned this, but spoilers again. You should already know everyone dies. And if you didn’t well you do now.
We start off with young Jyn Erso, our main character for this film. Already starting off better than Phantom Menace. She is the daughter to Mads Mikkelsen’s Galen Erso. He is the scientist to get the deathray weapon on the Deathstar to work. But he hates the Empire, working on their planet destroyer isn’t something on his to do list.
But of course the Empire comes knocking, killing his wife in the process. But to be fair, it was her fault. They wanted to take his family with them. Sure, to be bargaining chips, but still, she’d still be alive if she hadn’t pulled a weapon.
Young Jyn managed to escape, hiding in some underground spiderhole.
One thing I thought was weird was she had a Stormtrooper doll. Why would a family that hates the Empire so much buy/or make their daughter a Stormtrooper dolly? It would be like if you lived in Nazi Germany and you were Jewish but had a SS trooper doll.
Anyway, she is later found by Saw Gerrera played by Forest Whitaker. Who I really wish was in this more. I get the feeling from the trailers that he was, but was cut out of it during the reshoots. That’s another thing I’ll point out. If you watch the trailer for this, a majority of the scenes in there are missing.
Jyn is now grown up… one thing that always kind of bugged me about Star Wars was the timelines. Like how long ago was Revenge of the Sith from A New Hope? Obi-Wan must have aged like 50 years, but obviously it hasn’t been that long since Luke I think just turned 18, right? So obviously 18 years or so have passed. That’s enough time to turn Obi-Wan into an old man and make “the force” this mythical nonsense? I mean, there were Jedi not that long ago, they even had a whole planet just for them I think. Since it had the name Jedi in the title. The timeline makes about as much since as the Mad Max films, so I’ll ignore it.
Now we are introduced to Cassian Andor, he has just got a tip that an Empire pilot has defected and carries with him a really important video message.
The pilot is Bodhi Rook played by Riz Ahmed, who I’ve been loving lately on shows like The Night Of and The OA.
He has a message for Forest Whitaker’s character, who was with the resistance but was too extreme for them. Now he’s like ISIS or something going mad in his cave, carrying out random attacks on Stormtroopers.
Cassian Andor is tasked with taking Jyn Erso to see if he can’t get a meeting with Saw Gerrera, Forest Whitaker’s character. Since he pretty much raised her after her dad was taken.
When Jyn and Andor make it to the planet Saw is on, they run into a bit of trouble, smacking right into one of Saw’s hit and run attacks on a few Stormtroopers. Thankfully Donnie Yen shows up as a blind monk, who is “one with the force” to help take out the troopers that have them all surrounded.
But they are once again captured, but this time by Saw’s people.
Jyn is able to see the message the pilot brought, it’s of her father warning them of the deathstar and how he managed to fool them by making a weak point on the ship. And if you’ve seen A New Hope, I think we all know what that is.
But as they’re on the planet, the deathstar arrives and tests out the weapon on them. And this is a pretty cool sight to see, the planet getting struck by this weapon from the point of view of someone actually on the damn planet… pretty cool. The plant comes crashing after them like a giant land tsunami.
They managed to get away, getting the whereabouts on Jyn’s father. Andor’s mission isn’t to rescue him, but to assassinate him. Not something Jyn is privy to. But before Andor can take the shot, the rebels show up and bomb the hell out of the place, killing everyone including her father. You’d think she’d be mostly pissed at the rebels but nope.
Now back at the base, they’re trying to tell the rebel leaders about the Deathstar and its devastating new weapon. But of course they don’t believe them and refuse to go after the plans that might help defeat this thing.
So now they form Rogue One, a handful of misfits that defy orders and willingly go on this crazy suicide mission to get these plans.
And that’s when this film becomes like a Dirty Dozens, The Guns of Navarone type of war film. And it is fucking glorious!
I loved every moment of the last act.
I have yet to talk about K-2SO, the Empire droid that was recommissioned by the rebels. He I guess is your comic relief, though his posture was maybe the funniest thing about him. He stands like I do when I sleep wrong and my back is killing me.
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit hard on the guy, he actually did get a few laughs out of me. But he is the first to die. I can maybe see kids freaking out about that, because it isn’t pretty. He has to hold off the troops while Jyn and Andor try to grab the plans from this giant ass vault.
As he is holding them off, he is constantly getting riddled with bullets… well, blaster… holes? Whatever, he gets shot to hell and dies.
Blind Monk I think had the best death, there’s this switch they need to get to so they can get the Deathstar plans uploaded to one of the rebel battleships above them.
Blind Monk walks out into a hell-fire of blaster fire, chanting what he’s been chanting through most of the film. I am one with the force, and the force is with me!
And! He makes it across without getting hit, flipping the switch, making it possible for the ex-Empire pilot to make a call to the ships, telling them they need to knock down the planet’s shields so they can send the Deathstar plans.
But of course Blind Monk gets shot right after, dying in his friend’s arms. Who quickly dies right after by a grenade.
Which is also how ex-Empire pilot dies, someone tosses a grenade into the plane and boom.
I might end the review here, I’m not sure how much more I should spoil. This isn’t really a film with a ton of them, but there are moments that are pretty damn amazing. Especially the last 5 minutes of this film when Vader shows up to kill some people.
I think clearly these films are kind of critic proof, it really doesn’t matter what anyone says about it, you’re still going to go see it. Maybe it isn’t the best film to release around Christmas, but that seems to be the tradition with these films, so…
But if this film does anything it breaks from tradition. Mostly, like I said, it does pander to you a bit. There’s still all the things you love to see, you got the Stormtroopers, the Deathstar, Vader, ATATS, Xwings… all the shit that will make fanboys jizz their pants. But it was more mature, a bit more joyless than your standard Star Wars flare. And that might take a few people aback, me, I welcomed it.
It put the WAR in Star Wars, and I fucking loved it.
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