Okay, so it’s Christmas morning and I have a bit of time, so let’s talk about Rogue One.
This first part will be spoiler-free for those who haven’t yet seen the movie yet. The second part will include spoilers as I want to address a couple of criticisms of the movie with which I don’t agree. It’s not that this movie is perfect, but it is amazing.
And that’s the bottom line – this is the best Star Wars movie to come out since the Empire Strikes Back. It has issues, but these are pretty much the same issues that all the Star Wars movies share. There are plot holes and postage-stamp-sized character arcs, but these are nestled in an exciting, kinetic intergalactic adventure that swept me up in such a way that its flaws weren’t apparent until I started reading others’ considerations of the movie.
Without getting too deeply into the story and outcome, this is a much darker Star Wars movie than any that have come before it. Part of this is the decision to get more realistic with the characterization of the Rebel Alliance itself, but also with those involved in it. It is also an espionage movie that leads into a war movie, and this is not what Star Wars had presented earlier. It’s not a war movie because it has battles, it is a war movie because it takes the combat seriously, and tries its best to present combat scenes that stay true to the fantasy of Star Wars. This has always been a part of Star Wars, from the attacks on the Death Stars/Starkiller Base to the battle on Hoth (I am ignoring the prequels, which is the only way that I can maintain my sanity and fandom). It’s the seriousness and sincerity of the battle scenes in Rogue One that sets it apart.
I more or less loved all the main characters/main supporting. I like Jyn’s character arc (and more on that in the spoilers section), I thought Cassian was the first time we saw what a real rebel operative might be like, but my heart was torn between Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe and Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO. Yen has provided, bar none, the finest warrior ever viewed in a Star Wars movie. That’s understandable, considering Yen’s background. What I wasn’t expecting was the sincerity of his performance as a religious warrior, a knight of the Force who is not a Jedi. His faith was presented incredibly well, and his character was well-rounded and performed. Really, Yen blew my socks off.
For K-2SO, I expected a lot from Alan Tudyk, given how much I loved his characters in Firefly/Serenity, A Knight’s Tale, and Tucker & Dale vs Evil. He completely delivered and his dry wit added levity to the action. He was also pretty bad-ass. The droids always get to steal the show, and K-2SO keeps up that tradition thanks to its personification by Mr. Tudyk.
Again, this is not a perfect movie. There are plot holes, some sketched rather than fully-realized characterizations, but I completely overlooked these during the actual viewing because I was so involved in the movie.
I give Rogue One 4.75 reprogrammed religious Imperial monk enforcer warrior droids out of 5. This is not a perfect movie, but it is an amazing Star Wars movie and gave me exactly what I wanted.
And now . . .
Here there be . . .
Fear them . . .
Ready? . . .
Here we go.
Okay, so there are some comments about the plot holes in Rogue One, and they do exist. Especially because there were substantial re-shoots of an altered script which means a changed story which might not match up entirely. Again, this has been an issue with Star Wars right from the beginning, when the Imperials don’t fire on an escape pod because there are no lifeforms to Boba Fett apparently knowing the Millennium Falcon is hiding on a star destroyer and waiting for them to escape to Cloud City to actually try to capture them. Heck, Yoda is telling Luke he can’t face Vader in ESB, but when Luke returns to Dagobah suddenly all he needs to do is face Vader? None of this makes sense, but who cares? It’s Star Wars! The movies propel you forward with them so that you miss a lot of these issues.
I’m not going to comment on the prequels, because their issues were so apparent it killed my enjoyment of the movies as they were happening. But maybe that’s just me.
I would also argue about the characterization. I think there are character arcs for the main characters – Jyn and Cassian – and the supporting characters get what most supporting characters receive in most movies, cursory backgrounds and quirks that help differentiate them. Again, two of my favourite characters from Rogue One were supporting characters, and their backgrounds were cursorily sketched but it was exactly enough information to understand them. K-2SO even has a character arc that sees his character grow, while Chirrut kind of has an arc in that he achieves a kind of spiritual destiny in that his faith leads him to succeed where perhaps no one else could.
Cassian’s background is outlined a lot better than either Leia’s or Han’s in the original movie, and Jyn’s was also outlined more than Luke’s and certainly as much as Rey’s. I don’t get how anyone can say that her characterization is shallow. Also, in regards to her epiphany moment, it completely made sense to me. As soon as she realized her father was alive and was still fighting, she wanted to help him. She wanted to help both of her father’s even though both abandoned her at one point. She is old enough and experienced enough to understand – intellectually if not emotionally – why each did so. I think the moment she understood her father sacrificed for her and was sacrificing for the Rebellion, she wanted to return to him, to help him. Did she suddenly become infused with fervour? I would argue she would have had that from the beginning. Her father and mother seemed idealists who would have instilled that in her. I would think Saw would have inculcated a certain amount of fervour. Sure, her life alone, after Saw left her, had made her cynical, but seeing her father and then losing Saw, I would expect, would be enough to inflame her, and reignite her idealism.
As to Cassian, I believed that he had learned to trust Jyn and this gave him enough doubts in his orders that when it came time to kill Jyn’s father, he couldn’t do it. He did bad things because he believed they were necessary. When he questioned that necessity, he questioned his orders. It was no different than Han Solo’s turn – he learned to trust Luke and just couldn’t leave him behind and at risk. Both seemed to go against their personalities, but I think both earned their character turns, that their interactions leading up to the moment of the turn strongly telegraphed that turn.
Again, two of the major criticisms of the movie I disagree with. Seriously, I think that there were faults – there were some plot holes and the supporting characters received minimal characterization – but these faults were keeping with the feel and structure of Star Wars movies, that we accept these faults because they are assist in creating the excitement that the movies deliver.