SPOILERS (and lots of them)! Happy New Year to all! I decided to end 2016 by giving in and going to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in IMax 3D, directed by Gareth Edwards. And, to my unpleasant surprise, this was not a great way to end the year. The movie title should have been, “Rogue One: A really, really, boring and uninspired Star Wars-like spinoff.” While the reviews on-line have been mixed, I thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth for anyone interested. This movie rated a 6.2 on the GBU scale (details at the end of this article). So, here it goes, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
Well, the movie did center around a Star Wars-like theme. There were death stars, storm troopers, and cynical robots. So, that’s always cool … as long as it’s not J.J. Abrams.
K-2s0 was one of the few, redeeming factors in this movie. While I’ll address more about him below, to say the least, he was the ONLY worthwhile comic relief and practically the ONLY thing that gave the movie any ‘umph‘ in the story line. In fact, some of his lines were down-right hilarious and was the sign of some really good, comical writing (that somehow made it in with the rest of the ‘blah’). It’s not really “Star Wars“, but it fit in, just fine.
Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen, was a great addition to the movie to keep the “Star Wars” theme alive. Apparently, this guy’s some sort of a [assuming, now] blind Jedi, survivor from pre-Emperor Palpatine execution order 66, who brings a real sense of fun and wise-old “Jedi master in hiding” style to the movie. Yen plays the role very well, is given a chance to showcase some fun martial arts, and is one of the only characters that there was any depth to that could make you want to know more about him! Of course, whether his role is short or as a lead character, Yen has a good resume of movies!
Tying in plot lines was okay. While I’ll comment on the CGI guys below, the transition from the end of this movie to the start of Star Wars: A New Hope, was pretty cool (all except for the one, Rebel soldier who kept trying to open a door that ‘conveniently’ stopped with just enough room to get his arm through … *sigh*). And, seeing General Tarkin in charge of the Death Star tied some of the stories together (although I’ll comment on that below, too). That at least made this: “Rogue One: Another Segway Star Wars Movie.” *sigh*.
Darth Vader! Well, except for James Earl Jones‘ voice being a little off – it was still Jones (a profoundly greater actor), Darth Vader’s presence was pretty cool. It felt Darth Vader-ish. So, yay, another reason this isn’t just some random movie and has a tie to Star Wars … I guess. (<=The best part being that they kept the original score for Vader … and that saved a LOT audio-wise!!).
Movie graphics, planetary space battles, and the list of starships were all pretty cool. It was definitely well filmed and high production quality. Although, it may still not have been enough to pay for a theater visit! Edwards didn’t do too bad, especially when it came to some of the space scene shots – especially those of the Death Star. Of course, if you look up the Director’s list of credits (and thank the HEAVENS this wasn’t J.J. Abrams … ANYTHING but him) … and it’s … um … absent. Yes, Disney saved big bucks handing a big movie that they clearly DID NOT CARE ABOUT to the Director, Edwards. So … I don’t really put this on him, “too much“. It was TOO big for a FIRST time blockbuster film for a newbie Director. Disney … and Lucasfilms … QUIT BEING CHEAP BASS-TURDS!
Starting on the unknown alien world of Lah’mu, we’re immediately introduced to the 7 year-old counterpart of the main character, Jyn Erso, (the adult version played by Felicity Jones). From the start, an Imperial Shuttle (guide to the vehicles here), goes flying overhead of young Jyn as she’s clearly running through an open wasteland. Suddenly, the scene changes and while the ship is landing almost half a mile from the house where the research scientist / Jyn’s father, Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen), is busy getting ready to escape, the little girl (maybe 7 or 8?), makes it from the open wasteland, to the house. Now, I know this may be a ‘minor’ issue of poor filming and movie convenience that the audience is meant to ignore (which is why I’m only rating it as “bad”), but … it immediately sets the tone for lazy filming. Guaranteed, young Jyn didn’t outrace the Imperial Shuttle.
After Jyn hides in the underground bunker, Saw Garrera (a bad role played by Forest Whitaker … although it’s a poorly written role, so I don’t really put it on him as I think he can be a great actor when given the chance), shows up to rescue her. Switch to title of movie … a quick “tada” in the music and … *poof*, *fizzle*, *crackle* .. NOTHING. Yes! That’s how we’re introduced to the title sequence. Again … what??? Oh … but it gets better. Flip scenes … now it’s been 20 years or so and Jyn is locked up in an imperial prison (Why? We don’t know. And, apparently, it just doesn’t matter). It takes 30 seconds to show us this … and BLAM-O … we move on with the story … without her! WAIT? WHAT? Ummm…. okay … so far … REALLY lazy filming and REALLY stupid.
Android K-2SO is a C-3PO / Marvin the robot knock-off … and a really bad one. Case in point: “I told you to stay in the ship.” “I didn’t want to stay in the ship, it was so boring, but if nobody wants me or cares, I guess I’ll go back.” Wow … a manically depressed robot with an extremely low-self esteem complex. Wasted opportunity – BIG time (because of how funny his lines were and how original he could have been … but … at least it wasn’t BB-8. <= Oh, wait … if BB-8 was the R2-D2 knock-off, then K-2SO is the C-3PO knock off … what are they going to do with any other movie? *sigh*). Of course, with all the witty lines and funny add-ins by this character, it was utterly disappointing when K-2SO couldn’t answer the Storm Troopers as to where they were taking the prisoners, “To the, um, place, of jail, where we take prisoners.” (<=paraphrased, but you get the point). REALLY? It was a convenient set-up for the Jedi-fight scene, but simultaneously insulting to anybody who was trying to enjoy the movie.
HUGE failed opportunity between the Kyber crystals, Jyn, and Chirrut. It was implied (from my perspective), that the necklace given to Jyn by her mother when saying goodbye, was a Kyber crystal. This is reinforced by the fact that the Death Star is powered by Kyber crystals (which seemed like a ploy for a future movie playing off the fact that Death Stars are being made from planets), that Chirrut sensed her necklace, and the 15,000 references to Kyber crystals and Jyn constantly reaching toward her necklace. Needless to say … it was made a majorly important point at the very beginning of the movie, was brought up repeatedly and … nothing. Yup. Nothing. Why? Where were they going with this? Again … lazy, I SAY! The opportunity WAS there. Did Galen and his wife have a Kyber crystal because they were using them in the Death Star? Or … was Galen and/or his wife somehow connected with the Jedi’s? See? Opportunity without having to drag us into a sequel! LOST!
The names and characters of the movie seem … unfamiliar? Or maybe they’re just confusing and not really memorable? Yeah … that seems to have been a big issue for a lot of people. Of course, it doesn’t really matter. No … it doesn’t. EVERYONE DIES. Yes! For NO reason at all (because, frankly … the end was handled so poorly, there were HUGE opportunities … especially if Disney wants spin-offs!). And, the WHOLE plot of the movie is lost by this. The origin of this story comes from Princess Leia saying that the plans to the Death Star came at a “great price” (sort of a knock off of The Last Starfighter). Well … if the plans were delivered to her transport carrier last minute, and a lot of people died to get it there … no one really knows how many, or who … or if anyone actually died. Yeah, a base and a city were blown up – but so were other cities … and eventually Leia’s home planet! A little … disappointing. They even killed off K-2SO. Why? That wasn’t funny, or cool. Maybe it shows the cruel reality of the war with the Empire? Or … maybe Disney’s wanting to roll through as many movies and new casts at one time as fast as they can … because you’re paying for it!
The FAKE Princess Leia, and FAKE General Tarkin, and, although not CGI, the Mon Mothma casting that was incredibly spot on, were in the movie. Yes … FAKE … and BOTH CGI characters… dead. Not only was it distasteful (to a degree … or maybe I mean disappointing … not sure which), but unnecessary either way. Fine, bring in cameos by people who are still around, but bad CGI dead people …. well … whatever (guess that’s up to your personal opinion). They didn’t include Admiral Akbar??! (<=That only took a mask and no CGI!). And, for anyone listening, there were about 4 – 5 scenes with people screaming and making noise in the background that clearly included wookies … and I kept looking – but couldn’t see a single, dang wookie. Those were a LOT of wookie yells for no reason (or maybe they were all dead by the time the camera got there??)! And, Princess Leia’s big smile and joyous attitude was a poor use of CGI … considering they were in the middle of battle with Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer, he was trying to board their ship, a whole bunch of people just died, and they needed to escape. A simple, white cape from the back and hearing her voice would have been more than enough.
Jyn jailed (why … we don’t know … but it clearly wasn’t because she cared about the rebellion), to Jyn ‘I don’t want to be a part of this but have no choice‘, to Jyn ‘I’m now the inspirational leader who’s going to save the day!’ What? Not only was this a 1-dimensional, and sincerely unlovable character, but the transitions in personality were so flawed and without any connection that it was completely unbearable. From fighting the rebels who were going to save her, to hating the rebels for wanting to kill her father (which … was almost entirely left out), to being the leader who gives an Independence Day speech to her small band of Rogue One buddies … was really painful to watch (not to mention her sudden transitional love for Cassian at the last 3 minutes of her life). Okay … so dad’s dead, he got to see you long enough to tell you that there was a lot to tell you and then, die. Ouch. And, the guy who was under orders to kill him, who tried to justify it to your dislike, is clearly admitting to being a back-stabbing, self-serving jerk-a-saurus … double ouch. And, while you were going to go out there, “Lone Wolf style” (Which … would have been a more AWESOME name for the movie, thank you very much), now all these cut-throats want to help? So … let’s ignore 20 years of suffering, humiliation at the hands of the Rebels, and the death of your father … it’s hero time! Yeah baby! Wait … what?
I-Max 3D: So, I gave in and tried the I-Max 3D movie. Yes, it’s insulting to be charged for the fiftieth time for the same set of used, cr*ppy quality glasses that we’re just supposed to give back so they can charge us again (needless to say I have a pretty good-sized collection at home), but … why not? Well … I’ll tell you ‘why not‘. Depending on your theater, if it’s the “IMax Experience,” it’s not IMax. While I only recently found out that I am condemned to a cr*ppy Regal Cinemas that doesn’t have ANY of the conveniences that other theaters have like reclining seats and popcorn that’s not 10 years old (although we just started getting reserved seating … to my dismay), an ‘IMax Experience”, is just another way to say, “It’s not IMax, but because we can use the name, it’s ‘like’ IMax and we can charge you more!” So – they did. Watered down soda. Popcorn without all that unhealthy butter (and, yes, I like my stale kernels swimming in unhealthy, fake butter). And, glasses so bad that if I shifted my head a little to the left or right the characters would all blur out? I definitely wasn’t feeling the love for revisiting a theater anytime soon. Otherwise, even the IMax experience part was pretty bad. The only two things that made IMax 3D filming cool was the first scene on Lah’mu, with Galen standing on a cliff edge, because the epic shot captured the 3D effect really well, and the end credits against the starry background that also looked 3D. Otherwise – the musical score for this movie … compared to the others .. sucked (my opinion only). (<=That is to say, their attempts at making another ‘unique’ score, completely missed the target of ‘epic cool Star Wars’, like they did with “The Force Awakens“). Instead, where they used the original music, such as The Imperial March with Darth Vader’s scenes … awesome!). The graphics were so-so for being “IMax-like”. And, the added cost did nothing more than lighten my wallet, which I suppose helped a little, sitting in cramped, uncomfortable seats.
Engineers all dead: Okay … so this is sort of a weird one. All the engineers are executed. Okay … great. Did NOBODY notice that a flaw was intentionally engineered into the Death Star (if you can call a ventilation port a flaw)? Really? Then, why not build it with a remote control kill switch? Or, how about, “the first time we use this it explodes“, function? Galen’s entire ‘flaw’ design hinged on a Rebel army having the sufficient resources to make a strike against the entire, Imperial army and take a shot down a ventilation port? Thank goodness for the Force … and … sheer, dumb luck? But, what good did killing all the engineers, do? They already had it and were building it but apparently couldn’t “finish” it without the engineers. Are you trying to say that the Empire is SO short-sighted that they didn’t think that they might want another one? (Sure, arrogant enough to think they were unbeatable … but not build another one?). And … without any engineers like Galen … who built the planetary sized Death Star for “The Force Awakens“? AARRGGHHH! HOLES!
Character Development: Sadly, this has to go in the “Bad” category. What development? As I said previously, Chirrut Imwe was one of the only characters with depth (who was not an original series character). Suffice it to say that there was little reason to give depth to characters who are all going to die if you’re trying to save on budget … but, c’mon – give a little something, jeez! Example: Cassian’s character is introduced with a rushed, no idea who he is or if he has any value to the story but we know he’s sort of a d*ck ’cause he kills some poor, crippled dude, style. Wow. That’s just a sign of bad writers – and bad directing. Well … that, and Disney.
Wow … opening, scrolling text? Opening music? Something that blasts us and screams “STAR WARS BABY!” No? ANYTHING? ANY hint at all in the beginning that this isn’t going to bite the big one? No? Well … just sit back and relax … the show’s about to begin… The Director had ONE job to do: Make a Star Wars film. Just one job … and somehow … he done messed this up. Again … this goes back to the Director being a newbie and Disney just cashing in on an audience they know will visit, spend their money – and if they don’t come back … oh well, the budget for this one was pretty scarce anyway. Really … if this continues … what would have been an epic franchise for the next 100 years, with just 9 movies and ‘maybe’ a spin-off or two … will be dead within the next 5 years. Just remember that I called it …
Immediately following the REALLY long trip that the Storm Troopers and Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn), had to take in order to reach Galen’s house (<=another exceedingly stupid addition to the movie), the family has enough time to pack all their belongings, take their daughter to the escape route and then … leave her so they can run back to the house to meet the storm troopers? WHAT? Okay … supposedly this guy, Galen Erso, has had a WHOLE bunch of time to be a farmer, grow crops, and build a hidden, underground bunker to hide in should the bad guys come … but he chooses to not use it because … what?? Nope. Instead, his daughter refuses to follow orders and not run away (of course … a little cliche ex machina … of EVERY movie where the child is supposed to excape), coming back to watch daddy face the storm troopers, have her clearly “I can’t follow the plan of escape because I love you too much to not be narrow minded and make rash, stupid decisions” mom get herself killed, just to see daddy get taken away. Why? Maybe Galen and his wife made the plan this way because they were worried that the storm troopers will find their hidden base? NOPE! The storm troopers fail to notice the small child running away, or the grown woman who first leaps out after them with a blaster in hand, and, of course, walk right past the hidden, underground bunker. STUPID. This is how the tone for the ENTIRE rest of the movie is set. Do writers, directors, producers, and all those folks go to school? No – I’m not trying to be insulting. It’s a legitimate question. Do they? ‘Cause I remember learning that the opening line is the clincher and if you screw that up … well …
Rescue scene: Poor Jyn Erso is being shipped to an Imperial prison camp where she’ll probably be an Imperial slave until she dies (<=NO! NONE of those emotions or feelings are there … not even sad Star Wars music … it’s just something you can read into the movie IF you’ve followed every last facet of the ENTIRE franchise … *sigh*). A knock on the door of the carrier that’s driving them away, a Storm Trooper who sounds like he ABSOLUTELY HATES his job saying, “gosh, looks like we found another loser for the death camp” (<=paraphrased … but not too far off the mark), and … BOOM! Door explodes! Alright, some action, yeah? No. They call out Jyn’s [alias] name, clearly looking for her (among the 3 or 4 people that were in there whereas only ONE of them could have clearly been her), and then they “ask” her if she wants to be freed. When she is freed, what does she do? She starts beating the crud out of the Rebel forces that freed her and tries to make a break for it. WHAT? WHY? THEY JUST FREED YOU? DID WE ALL MISS SOMETHING? Oh, man … 15 minutes into the movie … and I’m getting a frickin’ headache.
15 planets and locations on those planets in just 5 minutes! Yes … right after the opening scene on Lah’mu, we suddenly start flipping through planets with their names, and then a location on that planet, also with its name … and a couple of them don’t actually show or do anything … like they were just throwing that in there for some future movie (or to conveniently fill space since character development wasn’t on the list). ARGH! Nobody knows the planet Lah’mu, we’re never going back there … so MOVE ON! Oh, yeah … we don’t know ANY of the characters, will never see them again, and this was just to sell some toys for Christmas. Damn, you, Disney! No reason to develop characters or give the movie to a qualified Director when frankly … ‘toys’. Look, I know some people really enjoyed the movie – but let’s face it – they enjoyed it because they just love everything Star Wars, even the bad stuff. The filming sequence jumping around in this movie was often times really distracting and took away from some awesome Star Wars moments, like C-3PO and R2-D2, or seeing more of the ships, blasters, and other cool Star Wars effects (not to mention developing characters)!!
Rogue One: A random name we couldn’t think of a good way to introduce. No … I’m not being funny. “Hey, you’re not authorized to be there. That’s an impounded Imperial ship!” (<=why they provided ALL that information is completely, mind-bogglingly stupid). “Um, we’re uh, we’re …” (<=French guy who couldn’t stop talking and had answers to everything is suddenly speechless) “What’s your call sign?” (<= really? Not, what’s your name? Who are you? But, what’s your call sign? We’ll just ‘assume’ it’s a registered, Rebel pilot, right?). “It’s uh, um … “(<=okay, so look around for 20 seconds only to see everyone, including the robot, stare back at you, clueless) “Rogue.” (<=continued awkward silence. Did you just look at Jyn and say ‘Rogue’? Is that somehow the inspiration?) “One. Rogue One.” And … ROLE CREDITS! (<=no … that’s me being sarcastic … but there you go … 80% of the movie’s over and now they’re ‘Rogue One’, because Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna, <= wait, was he Spanish? I heard French. Wow. Confused.), couldn’t think of anything better to say).
Shooting the Ocean! So … the Empire has themselves a big ol’ death ball of planetary doom! Clearly … the first test is … a moon? No … How about a planet? Nooo …. What about a continent? NOOO!!!!!! “We’ll test it on the city.” FINE! Whatever. I suppose they could somehow back off the power of the death star and still make it look impressive by destroying ‘a city‘. Of course, the second time they use the Death Star, they visit their OWN base on the planet, Scarif, and rather than continue to send down troops to destroy the Rebel insurgence (which, they had already accomplished on all but two of them!!??), they decide to obliterate the whole base by … SHOOTING THE OCEAN! YES! Instead of powering down on the base where the transmitter antenna was located that could supply the Rebel fleet with the plans to the Death Star … they shoot … THE OCEAN! Now … this is NOT being petty. THIS WAS STUPID. Movie convenience AT ITS WORST! On a side note, it also served the purpose of letting Jyn and whats-his-name french/Spanish guy embrace on the beach as if they had fallen in love in the short time that she came to despise him for almost murdering her father, standing against her, and treating her like garbage. WTF? Oh … but I digress. After all, they shipped down like 3 – 5 AT-ATs to attack the ONE ship that landed on their base … and then BLEW THEM UP, TOO? I mean really … UGLY … does not come CLOSE to describing how bad this was. (I think some posts say that the base itself was shot … but if you watch the direction that Jyn runs in order to escape the base after transmitting the message … they still shoot the ocean, but closer to the base??!!). I’ll just leave out the parts where Krennic opts out of just shooting Jyn and stopping the transmission in the first place, filling the time with useless banter. *sigh*.
The Sith force choke maneuver. A great, Sith thing to do. However, when Darth turned around and was holding his hand down by his waist, and although this is just a petty thing, it looked like he was trying to say, “Your p*nis is only this big, so clearly, my lightsaber is bigger than yours!” Okay … maybe that’s not what he was trying to do … but it was just not … “cool” or Darth Vader style … at least for me.
The Imperial Research Facility on Eadu! Okay – another cool visual that belongs in the Star Wars Universe! Cassian and Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed), go to kill Galen Erso. Upon seeing the base, they take the treacherous path, in the pouring rain, with mud sliding down below their feet, to get to a good sniper location where … they can barely see to get a good shot. Now … let’s forget the fact that apparently the Imperials suddenly had no way to detect a single, approaching ship, let alone a whole fleet (although K-2SO somehow detected them with the sensors on his crashed ship and Galen detected the Imperials when they reached Lah’mu). Instead, Jyn, only minutes behind Cassian, approaches the same, cliff-side view facing the Research Facility, sees the brightly lit elevator leading to the ground, and jumps down the cliff, safely, to take the elevator up. WHAT? Not meaning to be too stupid about this … but WHAT? AND, WHY would K-2SO have TOLD her that Cassian left with his gun in sniper mode? AND – by the time Cassian ‘can’ take a shot (having assumed that Galen would have been out on the landing platform, in the pouring rain, for any other reason), Jyn’s already reached the platform, yanked a storm trooper off the side (to which no one noticed) – and taken his weapon. C’mon. THIS IS NOT BEING PETTY. THIS WAS STUPID. This was BADLY written. And … if that wasn’t enough, adding insult to injury, when Krennic goes to leave, turns his ship around, and almost blasts the struggling Jyn off of the platform with the power of his jet stream (not immediately evacuating the incoming Rebel ships that are blasting for some, stupid movie-convenience reason), as she tries to find something to hold on to, the dead storm trooper bodies laying around … just stay there. Apparently, their armor is useless, unless they lie down and are seemingly magnetized to landing platforms … in case a ship is trying to blow their dead bodies off a landing platform. ARGH! BAD… BAD … SUPER BAD! By the way, if your argument to the two, different directions Cassian and Jyn take, is that Bodhi didn’t know they were going to snipe Galen (and supposedly, he didn’t), vs. break into the base to get to Galen, then WHY DID HE lead Cassian along the deadly cliff vs. taking the elevator? And, for that matter, right behind them was a rock shelf they could have climbed up to and crossed without almost sliding to their doom!! AAAARRRGGHHH!!!
Rebels join the cause! Woo hoo!! It goes like this: “We have to get the plans to the Death Star, they weren’t with my dad / you BLEW UP THE RESEARCH FACILITY THAT PROBABLY HAD THE PLANS (<= she didn’t say that part .. this was just another stupid-movie, lazy convenience), and if we don’t get them, we’re all going to die.” “Hold up, now, even if the Imperials have a planet killer, we can’t stop them. We’re just a Rebel army.” Okay … WHAT? HOLD On. Yes … YOU’RE THE REBEL ARMY. You are ALREADY out-manned and outgunned, but you’ve ALREADY banned together against impossible odds. So … what’s the problem? “Well, we don’t believe there is a planet killer! So, we’re not going because we’re too small to beat the Imperials.” Okay … STOP AGAIN. Now … they “don’t” believe there’s a planet killer, but the reason they’re not going isn’t because they don’t think there are plans, it’s still because they’re too weak and will all die. Okay … continue: “Sorry Jyn, if we don’t have full support of the council, I’m not authorized to send a fleet.” Well … I guess we’re done, right? Nope … after Jyn goes out on her own, taking some of the Rebel fleet’s top pilots, the generals start kicking the dirt, feeling guilty and think, “Ohhh… okay … golly gee whiz, I guess we’ll go … ” And, the one, hold-out finally agrees to go, too, just because he doesn’t want to look like a jerk. WHAT? YOU WEREN’T GOING TO GO BECAUSE YOU WOULD ALL DIE? HOW DOES GUILT MAKE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND? Apparently … the writers didn’t have the wherefore all to simply throw in something as simple as: “Oh, look, they destroyed the entire city of Jedha in one shot, if we don’t stop them now, we really will be screwed.” Just … sad … really.
So, there you have it. On a side note, I did finally figure out that it was Baze Malbus who keeps wiping me out on Battlefront … dang … that guy’s good!
Graphics ………….. 9
Sound ……………… 5 (9 for old score, 2 for new score)
Story line …………. 7
Characters ……….. 6 (mostly for K-2SO, Chirrut, and Vader! If they had an Ahsoka cameo – I might have bumped it up)
Character Depth … 2 (Can’t score higher – they all frakking die and we know so little!)
Directing ………….. 5 (Only a 4, but a +1 in pity points for Gareth Edwards’ 1st big one)
Seeing the Death Star built: +1
15 Planets in 5 minutes: -0.5
Star Wars Theme: +2 (+4 for keeping the theme alive, -2 for missing the epic’ness)
CGI Leia and Tonkin: -2
Overall, this movie scores a: 6.2 on the GBU (Good, Bad, Ugly) scale!
“Jyn, I’ll be there for you. The Captain said I had to.” –K-2SO