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Rogue One spurs the demise of Star Wars

Disney exemplifies a dire lack of vision surprisingly early in the game. | starwars.com

 

Hollywood ran out of ideas a long time ago. The minds behind corporate movie-making have clarified that they will continue running the money-making potential of sequels, reboots and shameless abuse of source material into the ground. This mentality fueled Disney’s newest cinematic universe.

This biggest detriment

For many disenchanted fans of the Star Wars franchise, Disney buying Lucasfilm seemed like a dream come true simply because George Lucas could do it no further damage. Disney certainly proved themselves capable of making a competent Star Wars film with “The Force Awakens,” effectively soft-rebooting the series after the horror of episodes one through three and raising hopes that the waterhouse mentality that started it all would take center stage in sequels. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” ultimately lessened my hopes for a bright future.

This biggest detriment to the film boils down to the entire plot, or lack thereof. The phrase “spoiler alert” almost does not apply to this movie, because anyone with any knowledge of the saga knows how it ends. This film’s plot boils down to, “Some people must get the Death Star plans.” “A New Hope” exists, which shatters any chance of suspense.

Even after sidestepping the obvious marketing of this movie as a standalone film and explaining the vapid plot as a part of a bigger story or an elaborate plot hole fix — which no one spoke up about when the likes of Wall Street Journal openly hyped it as a standalone film — “Rogue One” remains in dicy territory as a well-conceived cash grab. Underneath the awesome space battles and special effects lies a self-fulfilling story with little reason to continue watching outside of pre-established Star Wars talking points. This puts a lot of pressure on the actors to elevate a story above its pitfalls. Unfortunately, “Rogue One” also suffers a dire lack of interesting characters.

The original Star Wars trilogy could not rely on computers the way modern film can. The relatable, multifaceted, and supremely memorable characters etched those films into the annals of film history, something infamously absent in the prequel trilogy. “The Force Awakens” actually elevated its unoriginal plot with characters who actually act like real people.

illusion of grandiosity

“Rogue One” features lifeless characters moving the plot along with dialogue before jumping into glamorous action sequences. Even if one looks at “Rogue One” as a war movie, no one can fully emotionally invest one in unmemorable characters’ places in a larger conflict. By the time “The Last Jedi” hits theaters, no one will remember Felicity Jones’ unnecessarily dour performance as Jyn Erso, the clichéd action hero archetype of Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor or the token comedic character K-2SO. In the end, a film’s impact lies in how much viewers can root for the characters as they succeed or commiserate with them as they suffer.

The most aggravating shortcoming becomes its illusion of grandiosity. Dark overtones become poor attempts at validating the storyline, just like the exhilarating and fast-paced action ultimately amounts to a distraction from a lack of character development. Ultimately, no amount of frivolous fan service could save this film from its crippling lack of substance. As a product, “Rogue One” succeeds. As a movie, it took a chance and lost. Disney must start treating its new property as a movie franchise, instead of a toy-making factory, for the sake of what remains of its artistic integrity.

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. TEEJAY REED

    Im sorry, did we watch the same movie? February 15, 2017

  2. John

    I'm sorry but this is probably the worst review I've ever read from the Chimes. This is about as pretentious and thoroughly misguided of a take as you could possibly have on this movie. Rogue One wasn't just a cash grab for Disney. John Knoll who is one of the oldest employees of Lucasfilm had the idea for Rogue One years ago and this story had been his personal passion project way before Disney bought Lucasfilm. This supposed student critic seems to completely miss the whole point of the film (even though the director Gareth Edwards talked about this for months leading up to the release), which is that this is supposed to be a war movie set in the Star Wars Universe. The theme of this movie is that sometimes to achieve real change their must be a willingness to sacrifice everything. I will agree that there could have been better character development, however I think the droid K2 is actually probably one of the most memorable characters out of any of the Star Wars movies as is Chirrut Îmwe and his relationship with the force that's unlike anything we've seen in this universe. Rogue One had some of the best moments we've ever seen in any Star Wars movie, the last 20 minutes alone were exhilarating. Artistically, this movie was far more visually interesting than any of the Star Wars films and Gareth Edwards brought an incredible sense of scale to each frame. This was the first Star Wars film that brought the camera into the action and it gave this movie a beautiful sense of frenetic action. Full disclosure, I do work at Disney and do have involvement in the Star Wars Universe but I would like to think that I have enough objectivity to know what makes a good story or not as I went to Biola to study screenwriting and worked in Creative Development for several Production Companies and Studios before Disney. February 16, 2017

  3. christine

    John makes really excellent points but I want to echo what Teejay said: did we even watch the same movie? Rogue One wasn't perfect, sure, but it doesn't deserve this level of vitriol.

    Perhaps you just didn't like the movie, and that's perfectly okay — it was darker and grittier, with a very different feel from the main story. But don't make criticisms against the film that also apply to the original trilogy in an effort to justify your dislike for RO. That's just poor writing.

    Complaining about the movie including an action hero archetype doesn't make sense when the original trilogy is FILLED with archetype after archetype (farm boy turned hero, wise old man, etc). And for all Jyn's flaws, she was more multifaceted than Luke Skywalker was in ANH.

    Moreover, I don't think the plot's ability to be simplified down to "steal the Death Star plans" disqualifies it as a story worth telling. The original trilogy's plot is simplified just as easily to "defeat the Empire." That doesn't mean that story shouldn't be told. It sounds like your problem lay more with story execution rather than storyline but if you didn't like RO's execution of the storyline, just say so and explain why, instead of blaming the "vapid plot." February 16, 2017

  4. Mr. List

    if you go rogue ONE more time Maxwell... February 16, 2017

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