By Chris Tabone
When Disney announced that they would be releasing spin off movies, I was worried. Part of what made Star Wars so special was its rarity. Sure, there were ebooks and video games and toys galore, but it was all based on three movies. Now we sit at the end of 2016 and there are 8, with at least one movie being released every year for the foreseeable future.
My worries were correct, although it seems like the rest of the world is too blind with nostalgia to realise it. In short, I wasn’t crazy about Rouge One and I will tell you why. There will be spoilers, although this entire movie is essentially spoiled because you know that the Rebels are ultimately successful in destroying the Death Star. (If you didn’t know that by know, you are almost 40 years behind. That spoiler is your fault)
Ok – lets start with my biggest gripes.
- No Star Wars fanfare at the beginning – Just straight into it. It felt cold and naked. And for a movie that tried to use every ounce of nostalgia possible (I’ll talk about that later) it seems like an odd choice to leave out.
- The first two acts – What the hell was the point? We were slowly drip-fed bits of information about two dimensional characters for about and hour and a half, only to find that the payoff was completely non-existent. Why was Saw Gerrera a poor man’s Vader/robot with a ridiculous 2nd-rate breathing apparatus? What was his story with Jyn? Who were the monks? Was the blind guy a Jedi? Was the other guy a Jedi two? They guarded the temple that had the Jedi Crystals so what was there knowledge of the Force? What was Cassian Andor’s prison? Was the rebellion evil? Is killing Imperials really that soul-destroying? All questions that we will never know the answer to, because everyone is now dead. Why set up the questions in the first place? Its a waste of time and insulting to the audience. Give us a strong lead cast, or change the movie completely. I would have rather seen Vader hunting down nameless rebel foot soldiers in a bid to get the Death Star plans back. Not this boring ragtag team-that-is-not-a-team leeching up he valuable screen time.
- The nostalgia overload – Is this a stand alone movie like we were promised? You would never know, because it is so intertwined with A New Hope that you can barely tell where one ends and the other begins. The references are in your face and anything but subtle. The absolute worst of these is Governor Tarkin. His CGI face makes him look like he belongs in the next Toy Story movie. Is this what we can expect from the stand alone movies? Be original, or don’t be at all. This is my hardline approach.
- The fractured Rebellion – So (try and follow me here) the rebellion had to find Saw, a hardline rebel who left the rebellion because they weren’t rebelling hard enough, and then the self appointed Rouge One team, rebelled against the rebellion for two reasons. 1) because the politicians rebelled and didn’t want to attack the Death Star, which caused them to think “screw that, lets rebel against the rebelling rebellions” 2) the rebellion made Cassian and other rebels do some pretty terrible things, causeing them to rebel against the rebellion. Which begs the question – if the rebels were rebelling against the rebellion for being too hardline, why did Saw rebel against the rebellion for not rebelling hard enough? What were these guys getting up to? Are we sure the rebels are the good guys?!?
I know I am being very hard on this movie. And I have to be. It’s Star Wars. It has to be held to a higher standard than almost anything else. Now it’s time to cover the things I actually liked about it.
- The action – it is everything I imagined Star Wars would be as a kid, and I loved every minute of it. The dogfighting in space. The way the TIE fighters poured out of the space shield installation. The Y-wings in action. The many many storm troopers. I even liked the Death Star’s micro burts, but wasn’t as crazy about the destruction waves that followed.
- Vader – that 2 minute burst of Dark Force ferocity was the best I have seen Vader move ever. It fact it was so good, I’m going to forgive him for that terrible “don’t ‘choke’ on your ambition” line.