So once again we have survived.

Rogue One

a.k.a. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

ROGUE ONE is the new Star Wars picture, but not episode VIII, but also not new exactly because it’s what happens before part IV, which is the first one. I look forward to explaining that to the first casual viewer I meet who thinks this little British heroine is the same one from THE FORCE AWAKENS.

She’s a new character though, Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones from THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. She’s supposed to be some kind of criminal or something who’s snatched from a prison transport by the budding Rebel Alliance because they’re looking for her father (Mads Mikkelsen, VALHALLA RISING), a scientist who was abducted by the Empire when she was young and is helping them build a spherical planet-destroying space weapon (see also episodes IV, VI and VII). So like most STAR WARS leads she’s an orphan, then she was raised by a legendary guerrilla named Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker, BLOODSPORT) although the raising happens offscreen.

She’s spunky and kicks some ass and what not but she’s more of a cipher than Rey and whatever badass troublemaker lifestyle got her locked up goes unexplained (though referred to in the original trailer before the movie had major reshoots). She’s teamed with Rebel spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, VAMPIRES: LOS MUERTOS, MISTER LONELY), who dresses similar to Han Solo or Poe Dameron but has less humor or charm. The bright spot on their team is the reprogrammed Imperial Droid K-2 (Alan Tudyk, I, ROBOT) who has comedically poor personal skills and is tall and powerful enough to pick up one Stormtrooper and beat up some other Stormtroopers with him.

Their WIZARD OF OZ group really picks up steam on the planet Jedha, where they meet two cool badass characters played by Hong Kong stars. Baze Malbus is some kind of mercenary played by Jiang Wen (THE LOST BLADESMAN), and he hangs out with the blind Jedi-worshipper Chirrut Imwe, played by the one and only Donnie Yen (IP MAN). They guard a ravaged old Jedi Temple and Chirrut kind of seems like a Jedi at first but according to Baze he’s just some weirdo who worships them. He doesn’t have a light saber or even a padawan braid, but he chants about the Force and he seems to be able to use it to sense things before others see them. There are great scenes where his faith in the Force allows him to walk fearlessly through battlefields being narrowly missed by lasers. (Either that or he travels a little bit into the future and knows how to dodge them like Nic Cage in NEXT.)

Although this is not a full-on Donnie Yen vehicle he does get a few actual martial arts sequences, plus one of the biggest laugh lines in the movie and a chant that I suspect will become somewhat of a popular catch phrase. It’s a genuine acting performance for him, creating a memorable supporting character. This is not a THE-RAID-guys-in-FORCE-AWAKENS situation at all.

Two other good actors in the cast are Riz Ahmed (NIGHTCRAWLER), but I honestly don’t remember anything he did in the movie, and Ben Mendelsohn (ANIMAL KINGDOM, KILLING THEM SOFTLY, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES), who is effectively menacing in a few scenes.

There’s an interesting dillemma in that they’re planning on making a new STAR WARS every year until we all die, which the way things are going in this country means this is almost for sure the last STAR WARS movie and it’s been a pretty good run. But if a miracle happens and civilization survives we know that John Williams isn’t gonna be able to keeping doing the scores for every one of them. So for the first time he has a substitute, Michael Giacchino (THE INCREDIBLES), and the theme on the opening title (which I saw twice because of technical difficulties) sounds oddly limp. I felt his most successful moments were his most imitative of Williams, but if this is gonna work they’re gonna have to figure out how to make the sound of STAR WARS evolve in a way that we will accept. Because endless copycats won’t cut it.

There are some good, complex battle sequences in space and on land. There are a few cool alien guys you see a little bit of, done with masks and animatronics, from the looks of it, and in my opinion they have much better designs than the ones in FORCE AWAKENS. I like this guy played by Warwick Davis (RAY):

Give him a STAR WARS STORY.

That’s what this is billed as – the first try at a standalone or spinoff STAR WARS that is not a numbered episode and doesn’t center on the saga of the Skywalker family. So it’s weird that when it comes down to it it’s not all that different. It’s really just an insert prequel, an Episode 3.75 that illustrates the “first victory against the evil Galactic Empire” mentioned in the original opening crawl.

It’s a great looking movie, meticulously adapting the look of STAR WARS. On a technical level I think they’ve done a better job of re-creating Lucas’s universe than THE FORCE AWAKENS. It helps that they have an established set of vehicles, uniforms and weapons to expand on in similar style, and they seem very inspired by the more overcast and gritty texture of EMPIRE STRIKES BACK‘s cinematography. It looks and feels great and it’s fun to be back in that world again.

But to me it feels a little hollow because this is the perfect chance to really try something bold, since it’s outside of the ongoing saga, and yet even more than THE FORCE AWAKENS it follows the exact-opposite-of-what-made-STAR-WARS-a-phenomenon route of trying to only give you exactly what you remember from before or at best something that is kind of new but seems exactly like before so as not to spook you too much. Yeah we can have a planet that has a new name and has some palm trees and wow, holy shit, some of the Stormtroopers have black armor now! But that’s about as radical as they want to go because the intent is to hit this specific right-before-the-first-one look and feel, and that’s it.

That’s fine, but in my opinion it’s their duty to, within that, try to give us a type of story we haven’t seen in STAR WARS before. To find something new within the old. But they didn’t make a heist movie about stealing the Death Star plans, or a war movie about it. They didn’t go deep into the procedure of the Rebellion to show us things we never knew about before. They didn’t decide to show us the parts of Rebel life that we didn’t get to see before. They just made a regular STAR WARS movie with less light sabers. Basically, it’s a whole movie of the B story, without feeling like it goes any deeper into any of it. Like, we don’t know anything more about how Mon Mothma operates, or what she does after work. It’s another movie about a ragtag group of people meeting each other, bickering, sneaking into a place, and eventually getting hologram briefings from military leaders and waging a simultaneous space and ground battle to defeat the bad guys. It follows the template of episodes IV, VI, I and VII.

And for that it is very good. The last act of the movie is definitely the best part. But to me, Disney’s Star Wars is the death of the event that STAR WARS used to be, because now it’s not a saga that intends to reinvent itself and challenge and expand our imagination while preaching George Lucas’s personal philosophies. Instead it’s just a strict formula that will be rehashed once a year to remind us of the different things Lucas created and how much we liked them back then. And this time the characters don’t get as much of an arc as in FORCE AWAKENS, nor will they get to expand on it in future chapters.

It’s possible I missed something. When the credits came up and I was thinking “Well, I didn’t love it but that’s okay,” the audience I saw it with exploded into some of the loudest applause I’ve ever heard at a movie. They were clearly engaged in a way that I wasn’t. One thing I thought about after but not during the movie is that this is the first STAR WARS without any chosen ones, and I can appreciate that. Jyn Erso does inherit her role in the rebellion because of who her father is and who raised her, but she’s not given a power. And she risks her life anyway.

And maybe we need that more than ever. None of us are prophesized to bring balance to the Force. But we might still rebel. If people take something out of this, good for them.

SPOILERFUL NOTES SECTION FOR MOVIE WATCHERS ONLY

A friend who saw it early told me it has “the worst thing in any STAR WARS movie, worse than Jar Jar,” and I guess he was talking about the digital re-creation of Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. At first it had a Young-Jeff-Bridges-in-TRON-LEGACY type quality, but other times it looked completely real. I didn’t have a problem with it. It’s a gimmick, but this whole movie is a gimmick.

I can see why some people are upset, though, because if they were gonna fake a new performance by a great deceased actor obviously they should’ve gone practical. I think the fans would be okay with it if it was just a terrifyingly realistic and unnatural puppet. You know? None of this “using the most sophisticated technology available” stuff.

These little nods to the original movie, like the stock footage appearance of some the X-Wing pilots, are in the tradition of the so-called fan service moments that were in the prequels and the special editions. Like those they went over huge with the crowd and will immediately become a source of grumbling, but it seems like a silly complaint to me. The cameo by the toughs from the Mos Eisley cantina is the only one that I can’t defend, since it shrinks the universe in the tradition of Yoda riding on Chewbacca’s back. Everyone else is a prominent figure in the Empire or Rebellion who would logically be involved in this battle. To have digital Moff Tarkin instead of the guy who played him in REVENGE OF THE SITH is weird and maybe distracting, but it’s acknowledging the unique greatness of Cushing and his facial features. Hell, it’s giving an actor (Guy Henry, V FOR VENDETTA) a chance to act through very realistic digital makeup.

(Note: I heard someone afterwards explaining that “that old guy” was a special effect to someone who didn’t seem to have noticed anything odd.)

DARTH VADER AND CONNECTING TO THE PREQUELS.

I had made a promise to stand up on my chair and do the Ed Lover dance if they had a part where you saw Vader with his mask off and it was Hayden Christensen. For a second there it almost seemed like it could happen. I liked the idea of burnt up amputee Vader in his Calgon-take-me-away Bacta tank. And it’s nice that he gets his own evil castle on Mustafar (an unused idea from EMPIRE STRIKES BACK I believe) and a weird robed toady that bows to him and tells him when he has company. Man, what did he do to get stuck with that shitty gig? Poor bastard.

But you also gotta feel sorry for Vader, after all he’s been through, being bothered like that while he’s bathing. I’m pretty sure that’s why he has that little pod in EMPIRE. After this invasion of his privacy he’s like “Could you guys build me a Sith Lounge for when I want to kick back and take my helmet off?”

I think maybe I was looking too hard, but in his first in-costume scene I didn’t really buy him Spencer Wilding (JUPITER ASCENDING, GREEN STREET 3) as Vader. He’s 6’7″, but he looks too short the way they shot him, and his muscles make him look kinda fat in the costume. And the movements don’t seem quite right. And James Earl Jones, bless him, his voice is a little worn at this age, he sounds a little different. I wish it worked for me.

But Vader’s final scene is one of the best things in the movie, a great demonstration of his scary powers that shows how one-sided things were between the time all the Jedi were dead or hiding and the time they came back. You can believe he went around and killed all the remaining Jedi. More importantly the scene turns the nameless rank and file rebel soldiers – the good guy equivalent of Stormtroopers – into great heroes, many of whom gave their lives to pull this caper off by the skin of their teeth.

I think today’s Lucasfilm is using the slow-boiling-lobster method of admitting that the prequels exist. I didn’t get my Christensen, but they did have two actors reprising their roles from the prequels: Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa and Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma (or at least I thought she was in REVENGE OF THE SITH but I guess it’s a deleted scene). The next step is a STAR WARS that uses a character that originated in the prequels. A little Watto here, a little Yaddle there, just to get people used to it. And then out of the blue, bam. SEBULBA’S FÊTE: A STAR WARS STORY.

DARKNESS

I didn’t immediately think of this as being the “darker” STAR WARS that some people say it is, maybe because REVENGE OF THE SITH set the bar pretty high by having the hero of the trilogy decide to murder a bunch of children, choke his wife and then fight his best friend and have three limbs chopped off and all his skin horribly burnt by lava and lay on a beach gurgling “I HATE YOU” while his wife dies of acute hopelessness during childbirth. But it is pretty ballsy to set up this new band of characters and have not some but all of them sacrifice their lives for the greater good. Especially in this licensed intellectual property franchise where we’ve been trained to look for the next episode. I mean I’m sure they’ll be making dolls and comic books of all these guys but it’s kinda cool that there’s no chance for a sequel. They were already dead when STAR WARS started.

And it’s cool that the robot dying was the saddest one. We’ve had droid death before, but never one like this. Then our two Hong Kong stars, my favorite characters. Those are powerful acts of valor and that’s one thing that does seem to come specifically from a war movie tradition.

When they lose their lives while getting shit done it’s really effective but also feels like yeah, now that I think about it of course these characters have to die to achieve the mission. But when the pretty leads also face their doom (in a tribute to the ending of DEEP IMPACT, according to a lady I know) I gotta admire the filmmaking discipline on that one. They stay true to story logic (because why wouldn’t these great heroes be involved after this if they survived?) and the theme of sacrifice. And the music and the act of holding hands as they look out to their fiery death is a nice reflection of similar downbeat endings in episodes V and II.

Anyway, slick job by director Gareth Edwards (GODZILLA and one other movie) and writers Chris Weitz (ANTZ, NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS), Tony Gilroy (THE CUTTING EDGE, ARMAGEDDON, THE BOURNE LEGACY), Gary Whitta (BOOK OF ELI) and John Knoll (ILM visual effects supervisor who came up with the idea for the movie years ago). All I ask is for a big old heart beating beneath the surface next time and then for the surface to be something new and bold and innovative and barely nostalgic at all. I think you guys can do it if not no big deal just don’t call ’em STAR WARS call ’em BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, December 19th, 2016 at 1:31 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

111 Responses to “Rogue One”

  1. Anybody else bothered that Vader used a pun in the movie?

    I totally get why people loved it because it’s an exciting movie. I know around here we want every blockbuster movie to be real ambitious. You all want some personal philosophy and to be completely different. Sometimes, though, bring a well made, exciting movie is more than enough.

    This movie has issues but I really enjoyed it.

  2. Vader’s neck looked kind of fat, and year, JEJ’s voice seemed unusual. It was weird, considering Peter Cushing’s voice felt more real than Vader’s. I was questioning if they’d just digitally combined loads of quotes for Tarkin’s voice instead of getting an actor, but I was genuinely surprised that Earl Jones was doing Vader again.

    I was immediately thrown by the lack of crawl but I think that omission sort of sets it up as a quasi-Star Wars movie, and not a full-fat Star Wars film with Jedi and lightsabers and stuff (though it does contain them a bit). Yeah, the music is forgetful, and more kind of “mood-music”, kind of like Zimmerman did for the Batman’s; not really a theme like Elfman did, but more noise to layer on top of certain movie moments.

    But, that negativity aside, I really digged it. I disagree Vern that it didn’t take the universe in any new directions, as I felt it began to explore the nature of the rebellion a lot more than any previous film. Specifically, how being in a rebel alliance must fucking suck for the rank and file. While the film is Jyn’s story, I felt more resonance with Andor, and how he was at risk of becoming the very thing he was fighting against. This grim view of the rebellion (something that has always been shown as nothing but heroic), made the intergalactic struggle much more real for me.

    All of the characters were cool, especially the droid and the samurai dudes, and I could have happily accepted another couple movies from them. But mad respect to the writers for going full 300/Dirty Dozen on them and leaving no survivors. At least none of these characters are at any risk of appearing in a crap sequel.

    While Disney hasn’t began to churn out Star Wars films at the rate that they’re manufacturing Marvel stories, I think it’s fair to say that both Rogue One and Force Awakens have been beyond expectations, and genuinely good films. Of course, the more they do, the more likely it is they’re going to fuck it up (and woe betide the first poor soul to do that), but thus far I think they’ve been far better than the prequel trilogy. I think we should have a little faith that the saga/universe/whatever is in good hands for the time-being.

  3. I really appreciated the way it felt and looked, but I honestly thought the characters, especially Jyn, were just barely drawn ciphers with questionably inscrutable motivations behind their actions.

    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS

    For example, why would Jyn suddenly go all-in on the rebellion after they’ve just murdered her father in an over-eager air strike? Sure, he tells her to stop the Empire before he bites it, but what self-respecting, raised-by-an-extremist-Rebel-terrorist-and-already-his-very-best-soldier-at-age sixteen badass would actually go to these cowardly, deceitful bullshit artists on Yavin to try and convince them to help her? Seriously, fuck those guys! Ohmigod, the Empire’s got a DEATH STAR, we’re gonna throw in the towel, they’re too powerful, boo-hoo. Gives you an idea why Solo was reluctant to mingle with these scientist-assassinating arseholes.

    Or Cassian’s sudden unwarranted reluctance to off Galen after having been shown as a cold blooded killer for the cause. I guess Jyn’s winning, warm-hearted demeanour in the two dialogue-scenes they previously shared convinced him to rethink his actions.

    And Donnie? “I’m with her because her path is clear?”

    Yeah, no.

    I’m putting it down to the reshoots. That last act is so truncated and messed around you could practically see the seams. I do really wonder what the original ending was supposed to be like and how it could have been so bad that they had to partially substitute it with the one from SERENITY. (Wash even dies again.)

    Oh, and the Tarkin thing, is that how they’re going to make us swallow that Alden Ehrenreich and Childish Gambino are young Han and Lando? Because I can’t really believe that they would go to this much trouble to replicate the appearance of classic characters in this film only to then expect us to accept two actors with no resemblance whatsoever to their progenitors as these even better known dudes.

  4. I probably won’t be seeing this one for a few weeks, I was kind of pumped to see this one but some of the reactions have me taking a step back. That said, if the movie ends up being like Garth Evans’ GODZILLA, flawed but gets the job done and delivers where it counts, I should be happy Hopefully not like Evan’s MONSTERS, stuck with characters I hate doing boring stuff and then right when it looks like it’s going to do something and be good, it ends.

    Hearing Donnie Yen gets to do cool shit has me hopeful.

  5. I’m pretty sure the reshoots were not done for the last act. Usually they is reserved for taking scenes. I really feel like the scene at Vader’s house was a total reshoot. The bass pun suggested it because they did say they wanted it to be funnier.

  6. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 19th, 2016 at 4:31 am

    Sternshein – reshoots definitely impacted the last act heavily, you just need to look at the first teaser trailer and trailer #1 to see loads of footage that didn’t make it into the final cut. Krennic walking over the beach, Jyn and Andor running towards the attacked AT AT’s etc.

    I enjoyed the film, but there’s nothing really spectacular or rewatchable about it except for the intense third act. A big criticism of mine that I haven’t seen repeated anywhere else, is Diego Luna being terribly miscast. The guy just isn’t suited for this type of layered tough guy role, he hasn’t got the charisma or acting skills. That wouldn’t be so bad if he was just part of the ensemble but he’s got almost as much screen time as Jyn and he just doesn’t earn it. His two “War is hell,” and “I’ve done some bad shit man” speeches fell completely flat and when him and Jyn apparently were falling in love towards the end, the only thing that sold it was Felicity Jones suddenly making puppy dog eyes at him all the time – nothing came from him. Had a better actor played this part, someone who could elevate what was on the page (which admittedly, doesn’t seem much) and who had better chemistry with Jones, I think the whole film would’ve been improved greatly. There might even have been some emotional impact to those final scenes on Scarif (as it is, DEEP IMPACT did it better).

  7. I disagree Gaul, I really liked Luna here. To me, he had a grittiness that was missing from John Boyega or Oscar Issac in the Force Awakens. I could believe he was a wiry, do-what-needs-to-be-done terrorist. He wasn’t playing the hero, but only becomes one at the end.

  8. I really liked this one. Not least because it’s the first time the actors get to act a little bit.

  9. I had read so many bad things about CGI Tarkin that I was actually pleasantly surprised when I saw him. He has moments where he looks a little wonky, for sure, but I did wonder if I took my wife to see it and she had no idea who he was if she would even notice he was fake. The Princess Leia shot at the end? Not so much.

    And is it just me, or did all of this start with the CGI vampires in I Am Legend? Because all these CGI people running around make me think of those.

  10. The Undefeated Gaul

    December 19th, 2016 at 5:40 am

    Bastard – sure he was grittier, because that’s what the film asked for, and what Force Awakens didn’t ask from Boyega or Isaac. Had they put Isaac in Luna’s role in Rogue One, I believe he would’ve done a much better job than Luna.

    I do realize I’m in the minority here, because I’ve seen literally nobody else comment on him negatively. Guess he clicked with lots of people, just not with me. Might be I just dislike the actor, as I didn’t think much of him in Blood Father and Elysium either. It happens sometimes, I’ve got the same thing with Eddie Redmayne and Casey Affleck.

  11. I liked this one, but it did feel like a missed opportunity. I wish they had gone all in on making this like one of those 50s and 60s WWII films. This could have been a great men and women on a mission film in the style of The Dirty Dozen, Von Ryan’s Express, The Train, Where Eagles Dare, or The Guns of Navarone. Instead, they had to shoehorn the orphaned hero with daddy issues narrative into the film. That whole speech that Felicity Jones gives completely fell flat for me, both for narrative reasons and because I don’t think Jones was able to pull it off. Jennifer Lawrence would have nailed that moment.

    Aside from the complaints that they didn’t make the film I wanted, I still thought this was a solid film. That third act was fantastic before it was undermined by the unnecessary coda. The robot, Donnie Yen, and Baze Malbus were the strongest character for me, even though they didn’t get as much screen time as Jones and Diego Luna. I’ve heard about people not realizing that Peter CGushing was a digital monstrosity, but I don’t see how this is possible because I thought he was genuinely painful to look at.

  12. I really liked this one. I’ll confess to being sceptical at first at the idea of rogue one, it just seemed like there was no way to tell the story without somehow diminishing the original movie by filling in back story best left in my imagination. It’s surprising then how successful this movie was to tell a story that probably didn’t need telling, and for which we all knew the ending already, which doesn’t retcon anything and keeps the original trilogy intact.
    I like the fact that this movie adds texture to A New Hope; we know now that the rebellion is a touch morally greyer than we might have first thought, that Vader was a matter of inches away from getting the plans for the Death Star back. Re-shoots might explain some of the pointlessness of Forrest Whitaker’s character (what a waste of such a terrific actor), and the uneveness of the first 30-40 mins but overall I preferred this to Force Awakens even if the characters are less well constructed.

  13. Also, was I imagining it, or was there a brief glimpse of Biggs in one of those X-Wings? Or was it some dude who just happened to like the same style of ‘stache?

  14. I wish they made a TOP GUN-inspired spinoff based on the ROGUE SQUADRON-games

  15. Well, I don’t know, guys. I remember a more optimistic time, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when Vernsians were more skeptical towards run-of-the-mill blockbusters. We have already accepted the new reality that, if you throw a hundredsomething million dollars at ILM, you will get great looking special effects in your movie. That’s certainly what they did here. And even then, it’s only a bunch of exploding CGI spaceships/planets and robots, nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before.

    So could anyone explain to me what was so good about ROGUE ONE, if you subtract the normatively exciting third-act CGI battle? In today’s assembly-line blockbuster context, these things are virtually impossible to screw up.

    The script was so incoherent (and so obviously rewritten many many times), and the characters so underdeveloped and half-arsed, that I almost fell asleep during the first half of the movie. The filmmakers cheated a little bit by ending on a laugh-out-loud scene where they portrayed Vader as basically a slasher movie monster. Of course people would enjoy that scene that (I remember having a wide and beaming smile on my face), and they would leave the theater under the impression that they saw a great movie. But if you remove the Vader scenes, which were completely inconsequential to the plot, and the completely normative CGI battles, there’s barely anything there.

    How do you waste Forest Whittaker and Mads Mikkelsen like that? Donnie Yen barely did anything at all, and didn’t come of as anything but a token Asian character that’s supposed to pander to the Chinese market. Yawn.

    Giacchino is a good film music composer, but his work here was utterly forgettable. The filmmaking itself (in terms of the filmatic language that we often draw attention to) was strangely low-rent at times, and not in the much more interesting George-Lucas-the-delusional-hermit sort of way. It sometimes felt like an uninspired made-for-TV production.

    Yes, ROGUE ONE makes THE FORCE AWAKENS look like a masterpiece.

    Praising this movie is not my idea of striving for excellence. Star Wars deserves better than this.

  16. RBatty,
    I thought the same about Biggs, but apparently we are mistaken. Pablo Hidalgo, who is Lucasfilms official knowitall, tweeted Biggs is not in it, that the pilot with the moustache is a different pilot. I kept waiting for them to cram Wedge in there (or wedge Wedge in there), but they didn’t use him either.

  17. According to the artbook, John Knoll’s initial treatment WAS for more of a lower-budgeted MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE/GUNS OF NAVARONE type of ensemble espionage-action picture. Then Edwards came on and became more interested in telling Jyn’s story. I question that decision. I question a whole load of decisions that were apparently made during the making of this thing- and I basically like the final film! But did it really have to become a more serious spin on the Zuckers’ TOP SECRET! ?

    Shoot: With you all the way. The space-based portion of the final battle was excellently made – I would have loved to see more of that. I actually did believe that Jyn’s Rogue team would somehow form the basis for the eventual squadron, but since that would have been a cool idea it’s of course not in there at all. I guess we’ll get an aside in some novel or comic or on REBELS in which it is established that, yes, that’s where they got the idea for the name, but….meh.

  18. I have a crazy fan theory, by the way: Vader wasn’t originally supposed to be in this movie, they simply added him during reshoots to add something exciting to this otherwise boring mess of a film.

    Also, many of the main characters weren’t supposed to die, but after seeing the initial cut of the film, the people in charge of the STAR WARS CINEMATIC UNIVERSE decided that these characters were too bland to build a new franchise around them. So they decided to kill them off, because that would allow them to start with a blank slate on the next STAR WARS STORY.

  19. Peter: this cinematic universe includes that REBELS TV show, so yes, part two of your theory is totally crazy. Nobody is blander than Ezra Bridger.

  20. Oh, and speaking of REBELS – I know the show has now apparently been validated by having the protagonists’ ship in the final Scarif battle and by the inclusion of a few spoken asides and a droid cameo…But I’m assuming that those two kinda-sorta Jedi that are usually part of that cameo-ing ship’s crew have carked it before this film even starts, otherwise what reason would there be for The Mothma to whisper conspiringly to Bail Organa about “the Jedi” i.e. Obi-Wan. If they were alive, why not just give that plan-retrieval mission to them? As fan-fictionally overpowered and “awesome” as they are, they would have made it out of there alive and stupidly smiling.

  21. I thought the plot was somewhat convoluted, but NOTHING compared to Force Awakens.

    Force Awakens has the characters going from point A to B to C for absolutely no reason. The whole Maz Castle set, with Finn leaving first, then Rey leaving so she could get captured, then Finn coming back, etc. is horrific.

    I at least, on second viewing, understood why the characters were going where they were going in Rogue 1. I’m not saying it was airtight, plot wise, but at least what the characters were doing made some sense, unlike Force Awakens. They needed Jyn because of her dad and to get to Forest Whitaker. They needed to go to the valley planet to find Jyn’s dad. They needed to go to Scariff to get the plans. Etc. Not perfect, but it makes more sense than Force Awakens by a mile.

    The last battle was a lot of fun, but I am also getting really tired of these half hour CGI smash fests that every big movie has nowadays.

    And I really admire that the film had the balls to kill EVERY protagonist. I have seen a lot of people say “well, they had to kill them all to explain why they weren’t in the other films.” Huh? They certainly could have had Jyn and her boy (whatever the fuck his name is) escape. We don’t have to see every single person, the Rebellion does consist of more than just twenty people.

    I didn’t have a problem with the Vader scenes like Peter did. I agree, they were completely superfluous and unnecessary. So is a piece of chocolate cake for dessert. But it still tastes good.

    Maybe I’m a fanboy, but my jaw did drop a good seven or eight times while I watched the movie, including just about every time Vader came on screen, so I guess that counts for something.

  22. I liked it but it wasn’t different enough in tone from the other movies especially the classic trilogy. My hope is they’re slowly moving away from the formula and are going to be bolder and do different things and take more risks. Say what you want about Lucas but with each sequel he was expanding what a STAR WARS movie could be. It could be darker, it could be goofier, it could be political, it could be romantic, it could be tragic.

    Darth Vader’s scene at the end was definitely the best part. Some younger people online jokingly talk about how Vader in ROGUE ONE is so “extra”. Looking it up it’s lang for “over the top,excessive, dramatic behavior”. I can’t disagree!

  23. I’ve seen a few times people saying words to the effect that ‘it has a great third act battle but so what, that’s a slam dunk these days what with your cgi etc’ but I’m guessing those guys have never seen a transformers movie.

  24. Vader was a lil’ Pudgelord of the Sith. I guess that tank is full of carbs.

    What’s to say? This is clearly an uneven film that got focus-grouped to hell. Glad they had the guts to close it out like they did but all the talk about this being the return to form for the series is bunk. It’s sloppier than the original 3 films in every way that matters.

    I did love how gorgeous it was, though.

  25. The problem here is this movie had no characters who, in real life, would actually be capable of starting a rebellion against such long odds. We are told Saw is an extremist, but we see no evidence of it and are given to understand he isn’t even allowed to work with the rebellion proper because he’s too extreme. We are told Cassian is an extremist, but we see nothing of that and are almost immediately plunged into his fairly bogus moral quandary. Watch THE SORROW AND THE PITY: rebellions are made by people who are a little bit nuts, not people who are like, “I had a bad dream last night, and now I’m not sure it’s okay to shoot Nazis anymore.” I think this is why the movie felt a little bloodless (also the weak music).

    The characters I watched in the first 2/3rds of this movie would not have been able to pull off the fight in the last 1/3rd of the movie.

  26. So… is everybody in this movie a Bothan? What is a Bothan, anyway?

  27. Don´t ask questions you don´t want answers to.

  28. Oh, I want all the answers. I can only bring myself to see these phony STAR WARSes after all the dumb shit has been spoiled for me.

  29. Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. I guess that’s just a popular mustache.

  30. I liked this one a lot. But am I the only one who noticed that this seems to take place on the part of the galaxy far, far away where people can’t properly pronounce their “s” sounds? Both main protagonists, the main antagonist, and several others had either a lisp or lazy s’s

  31. The Bothan line is from Return of the Jedi. Good job the designers of the second Death Star gave it the exact same flaw as the first though.

  32. So we still don’t know what a Bathan is or exactly how many died? Well, it looks like we know what ROGUE TWO will be about.

  33. Disney´s FAUX PAS WARS?

  34. If you google a bothan I’d wager you’ll be very disappointed so it’s best avoided in my opinion. On the other hand, my non Star Wars-ing friend was confused and thought the line we were quoting was about Ian Botham, which to all you guys from the US will be no less stupefying as he was a legendary English cricketer.

  35. My guess is this is going to be the least Star Warzy type film we will get for a while considering the next three films are Episode 8, 9 and the Han Solo spinoff.

    I think of movies that got “focus grouped to hell” and all I can think about is Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman. Those movies are so clearly a bunch of puzzle pieces that got destroyed by having too many cooks in the kitchen. If this movie was rewritten and recut as much as it appears to have been, at least they came up with something coherent.

    If you look at the clips from the trailers that didn’t make it, the whole beginning is different. There is a clip of the droid meeting Jyn on Jedhu. There are scenes of Vader on the death star. There are scenes of Jyn running on the beach with the death star plans, which means they probably had a whole different mechanism of delivering the plans besides the radio tower/broadcast. There is also the scene of the tie fighter on the dish tower, a scene where they refer to themselves as Rogue One much earlier than when it is introduced, and scenes of Forest Whitaker younger, bald no white hair, in his little lair talking with the protagonists.

    Also, can we talk about the mid reading squid for a second? What the fuck was that all about.

  36. “Anybody else bothered that Vader used a pun in the movie?”
    No, because “I find your lack of faith disturbing” in A New Hope was also kind of a smartass line for him to use and nobody complains about that. Anyway, I loved it. Enjoyed its ballsiness and the willingness to focus on the (for lack of a better term) “ordinary” people involved in this conflict instead of making them the backdrop to the drama of a family of space wizards.

  37. But “I find your lack of faith disturbing” is a terrifying thing for a fascist, android, space wizard to say while he’s choking you with his telekinesis. Saying “Don’t CHOKE on your ambitions” is some weak, Roger-Moore-era-Bond quipping. That shit was embarrassing. For everyone involved. But A+ for Vader chilling out in his evil looking Sauron-style castle on the lava planet. That was a nice touch.

    Jeff, as for that mind reading squid thing, I kind of liked it. I like when they introduce some weird sci-fi/fantasy thing like that out of nowhere and don’t really explain it. Like everyone in this world just understands that a standard way of doing interrogations is by using a slimy, tentacled, anus monster to read people’s minds (or coerce them into telling the truth, or whatever was happening in that scene).

  38. Eh, that line made me laugh just because it’s such a groan-worthy pun. Its like Vader couldn’t come up with a better one and belted it out anyway and knew its not like this poor bastard (or any of Vader’s underlings) are going to call him out on it.

  39. Was anybody else bugged by Forest Whitaker’s needless sacrifice? Like, he just declares “I’m through running” and then everybody leaves him to die in the blast-wave? Why did he do that? Is it just because this is a Star Wars movie, so you have to have a mentor figure for the main protagonist who ends up sacrificing themselves? Because he was barely a mentor figure, and he didn’t really sacrifice himself, he just decided it was time to die.

    Plus, there’s her father! He’s kind of filling the same role, and then he dies for no reason as well. Ugh, so much sloppy writing in this movie.

    I’m pretty sure all the stuff with Jyn’s father was added in the re-shoots. Go back and watch the “teaser” and the first “trailer” (why do we have different terms for these?). Her father is nowhere in either of those, and instead the rebels just tell her they have a mission for her. They already know the empire is about to test a weapon and they want her to find out what it is and how to destroy it. Frankly, that sounds like a better version of this movie to me. Jyn is not an interesting character and the story with her father adds nothing to her character, or to the plot. All of those scenes just add time to a first act that already drags.

    I’d be really interested to see a rough cut of this film from like 9 months ago.

  40. The Red Letter Media guys pointed out something I hadn’t thought about. The action in this movie is really good, for the most part (at least in the third act). But if you look at the original trilogy, the action scenes are some of the least memorable parts. The stuff in the original trilogy that really sticks with you are the character moments and all the wildly creative settings and creatures they run into. It’s almost like now we’re just getting straight-up action movies that use a “Star Wars” template to hang the action scenes on, without really introducing interesting new stuff to the universe. Say what you will about the prequels, at least they kept trying to show you something you hadn’t seen in a Star Wars movie before, for better or worse.

  41. Yup. There’s a fairy tale aspect to the storytelling in at least the initial Star Wars movies that’s lacking here. It’s compounded because the dialogue in Rogue One is too contemporary/basic, and I know people like to make fun of lines about power converters and Yoda’s reverse-structure philosophies, but this just speaks like any other blockbuster. The Vader Goes Bananas scene ruled, though.

  42. Man, I guess I’m just doomed to forever be a STAR WARS Heretic. I like the prequels and everyone else hates them; everyone likes TFA and I hate it (although it seems like people gradually soured on it since). Now, here comes a fun, exciting crowdpleaser (I thought?) that I actually unironically enjoyed, and apparently no one likes it. Weird.

    Yeah, it has a few problems; the plot isn’t a disaster but it does have the faint odor of being one of those too-many-cooks overwritten-and-then-overwritten-again-and-reshot kinda deals. But compared to other tentpole movies on this scale, it seemed pretty minor. Yes, I figure originally Saw Gerrera had more purpose in the movie. Yes, Jyn seems to be missing a few key character building scenes. Yes, there are a few “easter eggs” which feel a little clunky and unnecessary (R2 and 3PO, Walrus Face and Dr. Dickhole, who must have felt super lucky to have left Jedha just hours before it was destroyed, only to be killed in barfight literally the next day).

    But honestly all that feels incredibly minor compared to the problems TFA had. A few off notes in an otherwise incredibly rousing song. Yen, Jiang and K-2 are great characters, and they all get plenty of delightful character beats. Jyn and Cassian feel a little thin, but I think the actors make it work at least as well as anyone in the OT did with their equally underwritten characters. I doubt they’ll end up being iconic in quite the same way, but I enjoyed spending time with them and ended up caring what happened to them.

    I’m equally baffled by people claiming this is “too similar” to other SW films. I mean, it’s also space fantasy, and it has space fights and stuff. But other than that it felt quite fresh to me in both tone and style, and it’s chock-full of new locations, planets, aliens, and some absolutely beautiful images. Seeing those huge, fallen Jedi statues on Jedha is a great treat, and the Maldives coastal setting is a great place to stage a huge battle. Every place we go seems to have a lot more history and vivacity than anything in TFA, and plenty of stuff in the Prequels, too — and all that without doing a lot of obvious recycling and reskinning. Yes, RO has no shortage of references to the OT. But they make sense in the context of the story it’s telling, they add some meaning and context to the other films, and, crucially, they’re mostly incidental. Little fun asides more than foundational story elements. That makes them seem much less like lazy cowardice and more like little grace notes for the diehards.

    As for the supposed cowardice… well, I dunno man. RJ was complaining that this isn’t a SW-set horror movie or a emotionally fraught Bergman chamber piece about existential dread. To that I say… well, shit, that would be cool. But I don’t fault this movie for not being that. Personally, I really love the idea that no one here is the chosen one, no one ever meets any big marquee characters, no one is related to Luke. They’re just other people, having another story in this big universe. I might have liked it even better if it was a little smaller-scale, if it felt more intimate, if they didn’t feel the need to spend 200 million bucks on all of these. But then again, who can complain with these results? It’s an exciting story with cool stuff constantly happening, it has a great cast of characters, and it brought me a few slices of the SW universe that felt internally consistent but also not quite like anything we’ve seen before. If they really are going to keep cranking out a movie a year until time stops, I’ll be over the moon if they’re this good.

    That said, I still am the opposite of excited about a “young Han Solo” movie. Did they learn nothing from the prequels!?

  43. Why do people even care about this shit anymore? I don´t get it.

  44. Liked it a lot – more than TFA, for sure – and this ticked plenty of boxes with me. I’m still chasing that 1977 high and Disney knows it.

    I think the film before the reshoots could well be more interesting than what we got, and it’s a shame we’ll never see that version (I can’t be the only one who sat there near the end and tuned out a little when that TIE Fighter didn’t appear?)

    But there was much to dig and I am still full of admiration for it having the spaceballs to kill everyone* off. That is a gutsy move.

    *But then, Disney are already working to bring you-know-who back for another film, so maybe not.

  45. Crushinator Jones

    December 19th, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I would really like to see the director’s cut of this movie.

  46. Bothans are wolfmen, so I hope we get Rogue One Two: Many Bothans Died and it’s the same thing but with wolfmen.

  47. “…and it’s the same thing but with wolfmen” would be a pretty good pitch for any sequel.

  48. I thought Bothans were Wookies. Shows what I know

  49. Surely that’s how they pitched TURKEY SHOOT?

  50. I don’t think anyone pitched TURKEY SHOOT. It just…happened.

  51. I don’t have a problem with the choking line. The threat was appropriate to the context, and given Anakins history of being a whiny bitch, plus just being woken out of bed, I could see him being a bit pissy pants.

  52. SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY

    This movie works as a fun sci-fi adventure film, it works specifically as a Star Wars film, and it works more specifically as a prequel/off-shoot/revisitation of the original trilogy world. There’s a lot to like.

    It looks gorgeous and lived in. Keeps the core original trilogy aesthetic but just shined up like a million bucks. Clean, crisp, and some really cool structures and locations and costumes and creatures and production design. Friggin tentacle mind-reading thing, and weird little wookie-ish dwarves, and the archives thing and black trooper guys.

    I like the cast and performances almost across the board. Krennic, Hannibal, Aaron Kaloor from Deep Dream, Steve the Pirate, Diego Luna, Ghost Dog, Donnie Yen. Some very good casting choices here, solid performances, memorable characters. I like that the ensemble of unsung heroes aspect is central. Jyn is clearly the star to the extent that there is a lead star (and possibly the least-inspired or distinctive character), but I think it works that she is never elevated to some kind of iconic demigod, nor is the film super-preoccupied with her backstory or her formative years. This is a breadth and momentum over depth and ponderousness approach to storytelling, and I think it’s a great choice. This is very much of the show-don’t-tell approach. Mads Hannibalson and Jyn and Luna and Whitaker and Ip Man don’t need a bunch of dialogue or establishing backstory for us (or at least me) to get a sense of their temperament, motivations, quirks, and arcs. This is a fun, cool, ensemble film where the supporting characters are all stars, where the mission is the star. There are more cool, earthy, fun characters I would want to hang out with in this one film than in TFA or in the whole prequel trilogy.

    Everybody dies. There are real stakes. There is a tragic ensemble blaze-of-glory sacrifice end where the two leads are engulfed in a fucking nuclear blaze. How is this not awesome, a gutsy way to end the main action of a STAR WARS film, and unlike any other STAR WARS movie in its tragic element than other than the straight-up maudlin ridiculo-tragicomic ending to ROTS?

    The new droid rocks. He is fun. I laughed audibly and spontaneously, and I’m not one of these dudes who guffaws at that groaner pun shit in the theatre. The droid kicks ass and is a novel character and kind of character. This film is full of novel, weird characters, human and alien alike.

    Star Destroyer crash-up destroying the space laser gate bridge thing: this kicks ass.

    Darth Vader is bawse af, and I’ll take that choke line all day. I agree that JEJ has lost some of the strength and crispness in his voice, and I would have thought that they could have done some auto-tuney shit to punch it up a bit, but I still enjoyed it. There was a self-satisfied, I’m barely breaking a sweat quality that I dug. Vader’s scenes in this go a long way toward making up for all the, strung-along, fake-out, dashed expectations and broken dreams in terms empty promises that we might get some cool Vaderage in the prequel trilogy. Been waiting like 30 or 10 years (depending on when you start counting) for some real Darth Vader stuff. James Earl Jones as Darth Vader talkin ish, force chokin, warm liquid goo chillin, light saberin. C’mon man! That’s the stuff, right there.

    My only complaints:
    -The beginning scenes where they attempt to establish Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed were utterly wasted screen time. We didn’t need them at all.
    -I’m torn on CGI Peter Cushing. Kind of cool. Almost works, not quite, but not an epic fail. An interesting borderline fail/success. My enjoyment of the character and at the balls they had for doing it overshadowed the slight uncanny valley residue of old dead eyes. As I said in the TFA thread, I actually though the Leia CGI was much worse and more of a mark against the film. That last scene needs some George Lucas-style retooling in the next 10 years and/or until they get it right.

  53. Shoot, the same reason people still give a shit about your opinion. They like it.

  54. If you’re going to have Darth Vader make dumb dad jokes, then you have to go all out and have him laugh at his own joke after he makes it.

  55. Gotta admit that I have absolutely zero interest in seeing this, ever. Life is too short to spend another 2 hours and whatever change on Disneyfied Star Wars-lite when there are like, thousands of imminently better movies I’m probably gonna die without seeing. Fell for it last year; never again!

  56. Just saw this with the wife and kids, and everybody had a great time. I saw a lot of the same flaws mentioned in Vern’s review and the previous comments… and also liked a lot of the same things Vern and the previous commenters did. Just wanted to mention one thing: SPOILER ALERT when Jenn was climbing up the transmission tower and saw the iris portal opening and closing overhead, did anyone else think of the ending of Galaxy Quest? “Then it’s just straight on through the chompers!” I almost cracked up, and when I noticed my wife did too at the exact same moment for the exact same reason, it was just one reminder that I married the right person. And re Darth Vader’s terrible pun, my daughter said she pictured him chuckling to himself afterward and congratulating himself on being so hilarious. Lord knows if you live in a Sauron-type black tower in the middle of a volcano planet you’ve got to keep yourself amused somehow.

  57. Why bother going to see STAR WARS when you can see the new trailer for JOHN WICK CHAPTER TWO over and over and over again in the (lazy) comfort of your own home

  58. Leia’s body double in the scene at the end is Norwegian. Just saying…

  59. As this forum is already 60 comments deep, I apologise if some, or all, of this has been covered above (probably a lot more eloquently).
    I loved this movie. I saw it yesterday with a friend who is a big Star Wars fan and a friend who hasn’t gotten around to TFA yet. All three of us came out of the cinema buzzing.
    I thought Jones was excellent into the lead role. Her wide eyes telling that she has been trough some stuff but her posture and how she held her head told that she was defiant and she was William by to face anything head on.
    I know the Fast sequels get deserved credit for the diversity of their casts, and likewise with this it was awesome to see such a wide variety of ethnicities on screen (I live in Hong Kong, so seeing Donnie Yen have a great role in a Hollywood film was particularly sweet).
    Even though we all knew how it was going to end it didn’t stop us from getting involved in the story and being legitimately bummed when *SPOILER* pretty much the entire cast dies *END SPOILER*. To be fair, I know the outcome of many wars but it has never stopped me from enjoying films that are set in them.
    So, yeah, big fan.
    P.S: Vern, my credit card got stolen and replaced so I’m sorry about missing a couple of Patreon payments whilst I got things sorted.

  60. Vader is pretty much a smartass throughout the original trilogy.

    DV:

  61. Vader is pretty much a smartass throughout the original trilogy.

    DV:

  62. Vader is pretty much a smartass throughout the original trilogy.

    DV: Perhaps You Think Youre being treated unfairly?

    Lando: No

    DV: Good it would be unfortunate if I had to leave a garrison here.

    Or…

    JERJERROD
    Lord Vader, this is an unexpected pleasure. We’re honored by your
    presence.

    VADER
    You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I’m here to put you
    back on
    schedule.

    The commander turns ashen and begins to shake.

    JERJERROD
    I assure you, Lord Vader, my men are working as fast as they can.

    VADER
    Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them.

    JERJERROD
    I tell you, this station will be operational as planned.

    VADER
    The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation.

    JERJERROD
    But he asks the impossible. I need more men.

    VADER
    Then perhaps you can tell him when he arrives.

    JERJERROD (aghast)
    The Emperor’s coming here?

    VADER
    That is correct, Commander. And he is most displeased with your
    apparent lack of progress.

    JERJERROD
    We shall double our efforts.

    VADER
    I hope so, Commander, for your sake. The Emperor is not as forgiving as
    I am.

  63. Seriously, Vader is a straight up dick head. If you replaced all his dialogue with some whiny kid voice, he would be a complete eye roll 24/7

  64. Not seen this yet, so nothing to say about the movie, but I want to echo remarks about how great it is to see Donnie Yen in this. No. 2 son saw it last night and felt bound to report back that of the dozen or so teens he saw it with he was the only one who knew who Donnie Yen is.

    That said, he had to resort to FROZEN as a point of reference to explain who Alan Tudyk is.

  65. A lot of the stuff I’ve heard people complain about didn’t offend me at all. Of course, I’m more of a general Star Wars fan, instead of a super fan who these things would bother much more, which makes sense.

    I’m one of those people who didn’t realize Tarkin was CG (i’m a dumb dumb who completely forgot Cushing died) until my friends mentioned it afterward. We saw it in 3D where the screen is normally a little darker, which probably aided the CG a bit.

    Anyway, really liked it and felt a stronger emotional attachment to the story than most of the other ones.

  66. Overall, I think it was Star Wars done in MCU style but I was very impressed by the cast, easily the best cast of any Star Wars.

  67. Does anyone else think Tarkin was just a tad trigger happy? Destroying Jedha City was obviously a dick move, but then he blows up the Imperial Central Archives, which I presume the Empire still kind of needed, and hundreds of his own troops just to finish off two rebels? Little bit of an overreaction, if you ask me.

    Also, the Empire should really invest in automation. Not every task should require three people and a master switch to accomplish. Seems like you could just make a computer do it.

    Dumbness aside, though, I had a lot of fun with this one.

  68. “Dumbness aside, though. . .” is synonymous with “What did you expect? Shakespeare?”

    I really wanted this rogue one-offisode to be great. If you liked/loved this movie, good for you, homeslice. I’m jealous; you enjoyed 2 more blissful hours this December than I did. Merry x-wingmas. Please don’t be offended by my criticisms or let me detract from your joy.

    Alas, this script is terrible. Whether this fatal flaw is a partial byproduct of unfortunate editing, studio meddling, reshoots, whatever, there’s no way around it – the basic pacing & logic of the narrative is insultingly uncinematic

    [until the final 30 plagiaristic minutes I guess]
    [except for the embarrassing ‘oh no the cord won’t reach the outlet and also what does a master switch look like and why is this imperial base designed by preschoolers?’ bits],

    childishly broad where it should be granularly specific, and awkwardly halting where it should flow. The way this amalgamation of humanoids & aliens (and there aren’t enough aliens) is mushed together is just not conducive to a sense of empathy or inspiration or mindblowing multi-galactic diversity. We’re told certain characters are hero[in]es, yet we never get a true “Fuck yeah!” moment, never have a reason to want to pause the dialogue in order to contemplate some tricky psychological-moral dilemma/catharsis.

    The surprise ‘we ride together we die together’ emergence of the renegade Rebellion volunteer squad just kind of happens; one of the Asian market ploy characters simply points offscreen toward a cramped gaggle of anonymous dudes, et voila, we’re supposed to feel uplifted by these brave badasses about whom we know nothing, about to be led by someone almost equally mysterious (despite 75+ minutes of runtime having passed with her as the, uh, lead) and with no reason for us to believe she has badass combat leadership skills. Compare that pathetic, wasted moment in ROGUE1 to, say, what Michael Bay manufactures in similar type scenes in PEARL HARBOR or BAD BOYS II, and it’s clear who I want to helm the next Disney Vs. The People Vs. George Lucas sidequel.

    Gareth Edwards’s directionalism strives for excellence (most notably when it’s strictly space shit, when there are only flying metal spacecraft & energy shields and no living beings onscreen) but there’s only so much a skillful visual framer can do with shallow characters, disjointed motivations, and a PG-13 rating. Donnie Yen’s stick-fu aside, I can’t give ROGUE1 better than a 3 ACR. Maybe some of the crowded ambush action exchanges (I could tell they wanted to show more disturbingly crisp footage involving the the grenades and the tank) would have been clearer if that admittedly awesome Vader rampage scene hadn’t been included; the MPAA presumably only allows a certain number of bloodlessly graphic laser gun piercings, flying explosion victims, and broken stormtrooper necks before they make you debrutalize your movie’s shootouts by chopping them up into visual incomprehensibility.

    This film choked on its own meager aspirations, sad to say (except for making oodles of cash off suckers like us), and it looks like it never had the lung capacity to be impressive in the first place. I fucking love GODZILLA (2014) so hopefully our 2nd favorite filmatist named Gareth will get back to that form soon.

    Also why didn’t the Empire just blow up their own satellite dish when they realized Scarif had been breached? They had aircraft and AT-ATs on site, within range. They wouldn’t even have to destroy it, just bend the pointy thing or spray some water into the curved component – same thing knocks out my DirecTV when there’s heavy rain. Simply disrupt the Rebels’ hacking-transmission for now and rebuild the comms equipment later for themselves once the attack had been repelled. Or just cut off all power to the facility. Or abandon the whole planet/moon and relocate your storage bay to another celestial body. Or wipe the physical copy and reboot/recover with your data that you have stored in the Cloud. Boy I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

  69. “Dumbness aside, though. . .” is synonymous with “What did you expect? Shakespeare?”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. All the STAR WARS movies are pretty dumb and full of plot holes when you get down to it. In fact, I’d argue that whole genres like Action and Horror are, when you really think about them, dumb ad ridiculous and full of obvious nonsense. But you mostly don’t notice, because you’re enjoying the experience. I guess you didn’t care for RO, but I doubt it was really the result of dumbness, nor do I think dumbness in movies is exactly a bad thing. Space Fantasy is dumb to its very core. The question is, does it do its job in sucking you into its dumbness and making it feel internally logical and captivating.

  70. The only problem this movie has is too many characters that are thinly drawn.

  71. Question:

    I have a friend who has not seen a single Star Wars.

    No, my question is not why I am friends with such a person. My question is, could he see this movie and get any enjoyment out of it whatsoever?

    On first viewing, I remember during the first half hour or so thinking the movie was very nerdy/chatty, and would probably have a casual fan staring with a confused look on their face. There’s a lot of dense Rebellion & Empire talk with heavy accents flying around that is almost incomprehensible, I think.

    And also, as much fun as the last third of the movie is, I think most of the fun comes from the “Ooooh there’s an X-wing.” “Oooooh, there’s a Walker” “Ooooh there’s a Star Destroyer”.

    If you weren’t familiar with Star Wars, would this be just the same as any other CGI blockbuster shit show we have seen in the last ten years? Kind of like how I felt every time I have tried to watch a Transformers movie, of which I know nothing about. I didn’t even know what Optimus Prime was until I saw the first one and could have cared less afterwards.

  72. Crushinator Jones

    December 21st, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    How would this play to a first-timer? I imagine the first half would be utterly execrable, choppy, and boring. The second half would be ok. Honestly if you haven’t seen a Star War then you should watch the original Star Wars, aka Episode 4: A New Hope

  73. Although I think this movie stands alone as pretty good, I also don’t get the logic behind the “does this film stand alone or would you need to watch the previous one to appreicate it?” question. The mythology, cinematic world, connection to a longer-running serial story, ec. is the main reason Disney bought this thing and people keep watching them. Why would a person who has not watched the original trilogy want to watch this? I mean, maybe just because friends are going out and whatever, why not, but at that point, you’re going for other reasons anyway. I guess there are some sequels you can enjoy without having seen the previous one, but as a rule, why is it unreasonable for the makers of a(n incredibly popular) sequel to assume that if you’re watching this you’ve (a) seen the original, (b) accept that this is to some degree an ongoing continuity/storyline, and (c) enjoyed it and want at least a bit more of the same?

    I agree that the characters are thinly drawn, but I enjoyed them and their chemistry, felt like I had a sense of who each of them was, what their deal was, and I was reasonably attached to them. For all their screen time, Han, Luke, and Leia are pretty simple, consistent, what you see is what you get characters. Are they more “thickly” drawn, and if so, how?

  74. Crushinator Jones

    December 21st, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I mean you don’t need to have seen the old movies to appreciate the coolness factor of the Storm Troopers, the AT-AT, shit like that. The problem though is that the beginning of this is just painful, particularly if you’re fresh to the Star Wars. You can feel the screenwriter’s hand moving the pieces around for the final confrontation.

    BTW I like Rogue One just fine. I’ll buy it on Blu-Ray, which is more than I can say for Force Awakens. But it’s got an extremely stiff, choppy, inorganic beginning and a flabby middle. All the beautiful shots in the world can’t mask that.

  75. Mr. Subtlety – I highly respect dumbness. One of my favorite films is FLASH GORDON. I enjoyed PROMETHEUS. I have a secret love for LOST IN SPACE. I love 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY too, but it’s the dumb stuff that makes me smile the widest.

  76. I agree that the beginning is a bit choppy and probably could have been executed better, but I’m not convinced that choppiness is inherently a bad thing, since it serves to do some minimalist character establishment and give a sense of scope, breadth, movement afoot, and show you diverse threads that will come together. I view it more as feature than bug for a movie that has a lot to accomplish in limited time: build an unlikely bedfellows ensemble that is unique, winning, distinct from the Star Wars characters we know yet “at home” in that universe; get you to like them, root for them and not sink into depression when they are all killed; hit at least some of the obligatory fan service demanded of a film where the premise is “how they got the plans for the Death Star” without overdoing it; deliver adventure, diversity (of people, critters, backdrops), action, and plot momentum; somehow be fun, epic, personal, humorous, gritty, emotional, and dark all at once. For a film that aims to somehow optimize against those criteria in an ensemble, men-on-a-mission type of context within a conventional film running time and with the weight and expectations of Star Wars looming in the background, I think this acquits itself very well. Further, when a film is quite unabashedly pitched as focusing on how they go the plans for the Death Star, unless you you have some affection for the original trilogy, then this is just not a film for you. It is a “stand-alone” in the sense that it is not part of the core Skywalker series, but it is clearly anything but stand-alone in the sense of being disconnected from or assuming no knowledge of that series. Rather, the very premise is that this is basically a 2-hour narrative New Hope easter egg.

    As for stiff or flabby, maybe that is a valid critical analysis, but I never experienced it that way. I was transfixed throughout.

  77. Really liked the movie – not quite great, but almost. I think I stand with Mr. Subtlety on the Starwars opinion spectrum (except with a little less love for the prequels).

    I had a *huge* problem with the Cushing from Uncanny Valley. Did anyone else see this on imax 3D? I wonder if that had anything to do with my reaction, since the 3D on him seemed to be a lot more detailed than for everyone else and highlighted the artificiality, especially when there were other characters on screen. He looked like a lump of sentient play-doh, it made me freak out anytime he was on screen.
    Also laughed at how fetishistic the Darth Vader scene intro is. That was the point where I felt the movie leaned the most on nostalgia, but his inclusion was completely justified by his badass-ity in the end.
    A question – why were the atat’s so easy to shut down in this one? Is it that the x-wings are a lot deadlier than the triangle ships they had at Hoth? And if so, why the hell didn’t they use x-wings in Hoth?

    Finally, got to love how diverse the cast is on this. I think Disney is reacting more to the backlash on Hollywood, but it’s nice to see that with president Elect Trump we get a Star Wars movie where it’s not just the colors that are different, but the accents too (even if it is a little dumb to expect the accents would transfer to space like that).

  78. Crushinator Jones

    December 22nd, 2016 at 8:24 am

    They didn’t use the X-Wings at Hoth because it was too cold, they would have frozen up. So they had to use those weenie speeders.

    Remember that the cold from Hoth pretty much ruined the Millennium Falcon.

  79. X-Wings fly in space. There’s nothing colder than space.

  80. I’m starting to wonder if the physics of Star Wars could withstand Neil deGrasse Tyson’s scrutiny.

  81. Dreadguacamole — can confirm, Zombie Cushing is still completely terrifying in 2D.

  82. Space isn’t wet. It’s the ice. It fucks up their (some bullshit tech thing, honestly who fucking cares?)

  83. Also sorry to be a nerd but space is cold but it’s actually pretty insulated because it’s so empty. The only way you lose heat is thermal radiation.

    That’s not to say that it makes any sense – it doesn’t.

  84. I always assumed that X-Wings are made for space travel and the ones in EMPIRE were made for atmospheric travel. The latter have wing flaps, after all, which would be useless in space.

  85. I just assumed the ships used in Empire were designed to sell people more toys.

  86. I’ve heard a lot of positive stuff about Vader’s last scene, but I really felt it was overkill which almost undermines (or overwhelms) the opening of A New Hope. I would have much preferred if if they had cut to the credits the second he appeared.

  87. “Man this movie would be incredible if I gave a shit about a single thing that was happening” is what kept going through my head. I don’t know if it was the reshoots or the script tinkering or the rushed(?) production schedule, but it’s kind of a giant misfire – a stiff, uninteresting movie that weirdly never engaged me once. I started the movie off as an excited fanboy, kept wondering “when is this going to get good?” and by the end I’d become the cranky old man who was dreading the next Star Wars movie. What the hell happened?

    I absolutely loved Godzilla – the movie’s scale and monster-action blew me away, and I didn’t even care about the lack of human element that seemed to be a dealbreaker for alot of people. Now I see where those people are coming from – this is a movie with a big Felicity Jones-sized void in the middle. She’s been good in other movies but here she’s uninteresting and charisma-free here. I get she’s supposed to be quiet and stoic and mysterious (which can work, see Angelina Jolie’s minimalist performance in Wanted) – but instead Jones just feels like someone whose character-building scenes ended up on the cutting room floor (they probably were). All we’re left with is videogame cutscenes of people giving long, long exposition dumps while she just kinda stands there in giant closeup with either a pout or a dumbfounded look, I’m not sure which. She’s so laughably underdeveloped, that when they pull out the emotional fireworks with her dad early-ish on, I was like “man I really, really wish I cared about this” Anakin may be a “worse” protagonist, but Jyn definitely takes the cake as the franchise’s least interesting so far. She literally doesn’t do anything of interest the entire movie except give a really underwhelming speech and then I guess pull some switches or something and then stands there and gets saved by the franchise’s 2nd least interesting lead. (The showdown with her and Krennic should be electric, instead it feels underwritten and perfunctory)

    I mean right off the bat something feels weird with Jyn, how the movie puts us in a position to have to fill in the blanks on her character twice- we see her as a kid meeting Saw, and next thing we know, we’ve heard she’s trained with him and fought with him for 16 years and THEN had a falling out and THEN got caught, all offscreen. I’m not saying we need to see any of this shit, I’m saying it’d be like if Escape from New York had a prologue with Snake Plissken as a kid meeting Harry Dean Stanton’s character as a kid and then the movie we know starts. Maybe I would care if Saw turned out to be a useful or memorable character? Did anyone give a shit when he died? How much more interesting would the movie have been if he stuck around to the end? Instead he just dies because every mentor in this series has to die and we shrug our shoulders like “sure”.

    What we end up with is a “heist” movie where the heist is vaguely explained and kinda lame, and a Dirty Dozen movie where we don’t care about anyone. The supporting cast is fine, everyone’s doing an ok job, but if I’m not giving a shit when these characters die, then something’s gone horribly wrong. I mean, Predator is the gold standard of this type of movie, and it managed to make me care about every dead character twice as much, even though it’s a full 30 minutes shorter than this movie. Speaking of which – I don’t need my characters put in neat little boxes or anything, but I’d like to know if Riz Ahmed was supposed to be the comic relief or not. Because he wasn’t particularly funny even though I think he was supposed to have comic brain damage until he didn’t.

    A final note:, between this and Bond and Mission Impossible and Bourne and (unfortunately) now the Fast and Furious Series and also now The Transformers series, can we please call a moratorium on all the “scenery hopping to find Macguffins” plot? It’s uncreative and feels like a cheap way to structure a story when you can’t come up with anything else. When you saw that beautiful shot in the trailer of the rebels running towards the AT-AT on a tropical beach, did you ever guess the reason they’d be on that planet is to GET A MACGUFFIN FROM A LIBRARY? Congratulations, I’m actively dreading Episode VIII now, as I’m sure it will involve our characters going to a planet made out of quicksand or a planet made out of hail or whatever to find some gizmo or talk to some guy. I thought it was going to take me like 4 years to get tired of this new run of Star Wars, I never anticipated I’d get tired of it by the 2nd movie.

  88. Why do you guys think this is a massive hit? Most of my friends think this movie is incredible. They do not feel any of the negative things. I’m not just taking about dumb shit middle America Yahoo’s either. I still think it’s way better then some of the real negative thoughts here but I recognize it’s got problems.

  89. Phillip-
    “We are told Saw is an extremist, but we see no evidence of it and are given to understand he isn’t even allowed to work with the rebellion proper because he’s too extreme.”
    He tortures Riz Ahmed’s character with the mind-sucking squid, which extracts the truth but might render you permanently insane. They’re relieved when Riz turns out to be okay.

    “We are told Cassian is an extremist, but we see nothing of that and are almost immediately plunged into his fairly bogus moral quandary.”
    In the scene where we’re introduced to Cassian, he shoots his co-conspirator in the back for panicking and being too much of a liability.

    RJ-
    “Was anybody else bugged by Forest Whitaker’s needless sacrifice? Like, he just declares “I’m through running” and then everybody leaves him to die in the blast-wave? Why did he do that?”
    Yep, and it could easily have been justified too. He’s walking around on junk grade robot apparatus; maybe it takes him 45 minutes and a crew of 6 henchmen to get him down the stairs etc. Just needed a little bit more visual information, a throaway observation about his immobility or something.

    “It’s almost like now we’re just getting straight-up action movies that use a “Star Wars” template to hang the action scenes on, without really introducing interesting new stuff to the universe. Say what you will about the prequels, at least they kept trying to show you something you hadn’t seen in a Star Wars movie before, for better or worse.”
    I’m not convinced the ratio of plotting to action is any more skewed in ROGUE ONE than any other Star Wars film. In all of these movies you spend some time setting up a motive to go to a planet or space station or whatever, and then there’s an action sequence when you get there. I seem to remember a whole lot of CG action spectacle in those prequels.

  90. Damn, it was a real bummer to come out of the movie theatre yesterday and hearing the news that Carrie Fisher died.

    Anyway, this movie is a great example for why we need to stop rating movies in nerd binary (best/worst ever). It’s not good enough to be the masterpiece that one fraction claims it is, but it’s not nearly as awful as the other fraction claims it is. (I liked it more than I didn’t, but acknowledge its plotholes and mostly unmomorable characters, but there is also too much top filmatism on display, to call it bad or even mediocre.)

    The CGI Peter Cushing isn’t as great as ILM hoped it would be, but it’s not a dead eyed PS4 cutscene zombie, like others claimed. In fact, he looked most of the time seriously good, with only a few shots that had a slightly wax-ish skin or stiff eyebrow movements. (Even the young Leia at the end wasn’t awful, it was just that her head had a shape, that didn’t look like Carrie Fisher’s head.)

    Michael Giacchino’s score is not as great as some of his other works, but it has some memorable cues and melodies, so it’s not like it’s a forgettable piece of crap, that makes you scream “WHERE IS WILLIAAAAAAAAAAAAAMS!?!?!?” in the middle of the movie.

    Even the much hated fan service bits are mostly fun. Or let’S just say nothing is as bad and unnecessary as the cameo from the two Cantina guys. And that the whole movie plays it at the same time safe, with another story about the death star, rebels and a Darth Vader cameo, while giving us lots of new shit and being darker and more tragic than even Episode III, should be appreciated too.

    In conclusion: I liked it. Bring on more Star Wars Stories!

  91. As a STAR WARS agnostic I rather enjoyed this, and, yes, much more so than TFA. I don’t disagree that this is safer and more retrograde than it (artistically if not commercially) needs to be, but I still feel it played like a smaller, more straight ahead action movie in a way I enjoyed, and I enjoyed the nods to questions of faith (through Yen’s character) and moral ambiguity (in Whittaker, Mikkelsen, and even Mendelsohn vs CGI-Cushing). Not BABYLON 5 level perhaps, but it’s there. This feels to me like the LICENCE TO KILL of STAR WARS; I’m not sure what I mean by that, or why, I just feel like that.

  92. The Carrie Fisher news was absolutely soul crushing.

  93. In other news, I finally got around to watch MONSTERS, the super microbudget debut of this movie’s director.

    Well…let’s just say, it works as “Hey, look what I can do without a real budget!” demoreel, but not so much as a real movie. Especially if you are allergic against cheesy, storyless shakycam mumblecore dramas. (Even more if you hate cheesy, storyless shakycam mumblecore dramas, that have a useless SciFi subplot stapled onto them, so that they can be marketed as something interesting. Seriously, the only thing that makes MONSTERS a little bit better than ANOTHER EARTH, my 2nd most hated movie of the decade, is the lack of pseudophilosophical bullshit and a sliiiiiiiiiiiiightly better cinematography. [= I got motion sick from all the shaking, but at least it looked like they actually knew where to point the camera and didn’t have to adjust the focus all the time.])

  94. Monsters had an absolutely killer Jon Hopkins score, though… that’s got to count for something!

  95. I thought MONSTERS was terrible. Especially after my fellow monster nerds hyped it the hell up (and that was BEFORE he got the gig to direct GODZILLA). Nothing new to add that you haven’t already said CJ, except I was far less forgiving. Absolutely terrible movie and RIGHT when it looks like it’s going to do something, the movie ends.

    “MONSTERS is everything the ’98 GODZILLA movie should have been!”
    -actual quote from a fellow monster movie fan (possibly a bad example I know, but seriously…)

    Anyone see the DTV sequel though? It looked more my speed but then everyone (who is suspect because they liked the first one) hated it so I got scared off.

  96. The sequel is currently on German Pay TV and I actually planned to watch it back to back with part 1, but that one drained all my enthusiasm, so I saved it for another day. That said, most people who loved part 1 hated part 2, so maybe we might enjoy it.

  97. I respect your opinion.

  98. I liked the first one for most of the reasons CJ and geoffrey didn’t. Sure, nothing much happened with the aliens until the end, but I liked the two leads and their journey enough to invest in it. The aliens were the backdrop, the unknown, possible enemy. The final scene was some visually beautiful, captivating shit.

    MONSTERS:DARK CONTINENT. Switched it off halfway in. Not a good film. Dark and depressing, existential war-angst. Part one was light and left you with a bit of hope in the end, even if the aliens were probably gonna take over.

  99. I just have a very low tolerance for wannabe-artsy “nothing happens, the camera can’t stand still and all dialogue is improvised” filmmaking these days. I think the last one I somehow liked was BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, but even that one isn’t high on my rewatch list.

  100. Yeah, I opted not to see it because the mumbling-to-monster ratio did not seem favorable.

  101. I saw this with two friends who didn’t know who Peter Cushing was or that the character was CGI, and neither of them recognized that he wasn’t real. To me, he looked off, but I don’t know if I would have pegged him as computer-generated had I not known the deal beforehand. I think the illusion is more effective than people here are giving it credit for. (Saying he looks like a PS4 character is definitely overstating it. In a pre-game cinematic, maybe, but no in-game PS4 character looks that good.)

  102. Rogue One Director Gareth Edwards Addresses Missing Trailer Scenes

    Edwards discussed the discrepancies between the trailer and film and revealed marketing's role in creating the film's popular trailers.

    Rogue One Editors Reveal Which Scenes Were Reshoots

    Rogue One editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudie revealed which scenes were re-shot to include more background on the film's cast.

  103. Finally saw this one today and I thought it was okay. I didn’t find it much better or worse than THE FORCE AWAKENS, if I had to pick one over the other, shockingly it would be FORCE. FORCE had better characters, I found the ones here dull other than Donnie Yen and the robot. In fact I couldn’t really get into this one until the third act (as many others have stated). All the stuff I really did like were just leftovers from Lucas. My favorite part was the completely useless Darth Vader’s pimpin’ pad part. Like the other two I saw this weekend (xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE and UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS), didn’t hate it but can’t get too enthusiastic about it either.

    xXx: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE had a better use of Donnie Yen though, so that one wins.

    Also, while watching the PS3 Peter Cushing abomination (that still managed to out-act everyone he had a scene with) a thought occurred: so to honor Carrie Fisher they wont make a PS3 caricature of her but I guess the Peter Cushing estate can go fuck themselves.

  104. Been promising my oldest boy we’d see this, so caught it for the second time today. Still very good. Looks great. Great cast, solid performances, interesting and different characters, not too many callbacks (imho), inspiring, more somber, similar but different. A nice addition to the lore. CGI Tarkin seemed better this time. Still not feeling CGI Leia, even for 3 seconds.

  105. zero-mentality

    May 9th, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    My two days gestating post-browbeat-by-roommate-into-watching opinion of Walt Disney’s THE ROGUE ONE is that this is the wackest WAR-adjacent yet fought in those STAR(s).

    I’m not a dummy, I realize given the corporate by-line/amount of money involved that this was never going to be a treatise on Maoist Protracted People’s War (MPPW) or even a story about how the intractable momentum of certain historical moments can draw the ordinary into the extraordinary – think John Berger’s “G” – but damn, this was the most mercenarily non-excellent approach to the material I can imagine. No-assed heroes journey, no-assed crises of conscience related to ethical/ideological questions we’re never clued into, daddy issues, vapor characters who morph in relation to whatever is happening in a given scene – you can almost smell the shareholder flop-sweat as this parade of lazy, artistically impoverished storytelling devices lurches into motion in an attempt to force this dopey Egg McMuffin hunt into making sense. I had to roll my eyes at the nerds on another board who were praising Disney for having the “balls” to kill off Pouty Young Woman (British), Pouty Young Man (Latino), and C-3PO (Heterosexual), as if these characters made any dent on the collective unconsciousness – I’d bet a child-slave and his mother (star wars joke)

  106. zero-mentality

    May 9th, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    …that 20 years from now Sy Snootles swag will be selling for more than anything related to this movie. I give it one bantha poodoo pile out of ten, the space balcony is now closed, etc.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>