Currently listening to: Rob Zombie, “Educated Horses”
I’m going to write a short review of Rogue One and risk the ire of random people. I’m doing this because I’m a huge fan and always have been, and I think it’s a good idea to have arguments about art (especially art we love). If you disagree, that’s totally fair. This stuff can be subjective, after all!
Ready? OK. Here we go:
Rogue One was passable. It was entertaining in the moment, but I don’t expect I’ll ever watch it again. Once was enough, and I’m terrified that watching it a second time might make the glaring plot holes outright obscene and ruin what gentle positive memory I have of the movie.
All through the car ride home, my girlfriend kept asking, “But why did the Empire blow up their entire database at the end?”
I had no answer. Given how quickly the Empire cycles through stormtroopers, it would seem economically feasible to just keep throwing the white helmets at the handful of rebels until they’re all dead. Instead, the Empire decided, “Hey let’s just blow up this big data tower that holds everything.”
You could argue, conceivably, that this data is also stored elsewhere. OK, but then that opens up a dozen other plot holes in this heist movie. You don’t want to make that argument.
This isn’t the biggest problem, though. The biggest problem is that most of the characters a cardboard nothings. In his review, author John Scalzi writes that the characters in Rogue One are “grown up and morally compromised” and are “more engaged in questions of rebellion.” Really? Who the hell are these people and what version of the movie did he watch?
(At this point, I’m going to go to IMDB to look up names, because I can’t remember a single character except the droid and Jyn Erso)
Jyn Erso: Moody, probably has some daddy issues.
K2SO: Humorous, doesn’t seem to be seeking redemption because he’s programmed to help.
Cassien Andor: Did some questionable things in the past. God only knows what. I guess maybe he assassinated some people.
Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus: They’re one with the force, apparently. God only knows what else they’re here for.
Saw Gerrera: Clearly pretty messed up by war; he’s on one of the TV shows, so you can give him a free pass.
Bohdi Rook: The defecting pilot. I didn’t even know he had a real name!
So let’s talk about the defecting pilot, because he’s played by an amazing actor named Riz Ahmed. Why did he defect? God only knows–apparently, the catch-all for defectors is they want to do the right thing, but that’s pretty droll. Maybe if there weren’t 500 shots of “fan service” Easter Eggs, the pilot’s motivations could have been discussed at length. What’s with the blind guy who’s “one with the force”?? Well, maybe instead of babbling “I am one with the force, the force is with me” a hundred times, he could have actually said something with substance.
See where I’m going here? You can’t have a story of redemption when the audience doesn’t give a shit about 90 percent of the characters. Even if you cast aside the plot holes, you still have relatively no development whatsoever of anyone except Jyn Erso. No places where the characters (and the audience) can just take a deep breath and get some shit out in the open. No turning points.
Watch how easy this can be. K2S0 helps because he’s programmed to, right? Imagine at the end when he’s hacking the system, it rewrites his code to make him Empire property again. But as he’s trying to kill Cassien and Jyn, somehow they convince him to fight his own programming and help them get the Death Star data (just delete the whole stupid scene with the claws grabbing a data box). Now, K2S0 is choosing redemption. Now, K2S0’s sacrifice has value.
I get it … maybe this isn’t a perfect example. It’s just an idea! I swear I’m not suggesting I’m a better writer than the people who produced this movie! My point is that I, as a Star Wars fan, need more. I need round characters. I care about Finn and Chewbacca and Rey and Han Solo, so I can rewatch Episode VII.
I can’t rewatch this movie.