Now that it’s been a few days, some rough impressions. Potential spoilers below, if you haven’t yet seen the film.
- Overall, I enjoyed the film but thought it was… flawed. Not as good as TFA, but it’s also a very different type of film, so…
- Which leads into: yes, this was the first Star Wars film to really be “about war”, all snark aside. While previous films have been set during war, they’ve been hero’s journey films rather than war films. Rogue One ditched the savior narrative and went straight to “war is hell” (albeit coupled with a bit of “secret agent mission” on the side), which I think is also why people felt the characters were underdeveloped in comparison to the other films.
- The characters were underdeveloped. The only character I could actually name (that wasn’t from the original trilogy) was Jyn. Other characters included “Morally Dubious Love Interest”, “Awesome Droid”, “Asian Totally-Not-a-Jedi-We-Swear”, “Asian-Totally-Not-a-Jedi-We-Swear’s Boyfriend”, “Hannibal Dad”, “Mad Max Extra”, “Cute Pilot”, “White Rain Poncho Villain”, and “Fish Churchill”. The actors involved did well with what they had, which was good, because what they got was pretty… sparse.
- Speaking of Fish Churchill, this film needed more aliens. I mean, c’mon! If I wanted to watch a war movie about humans I’d just watch one of the ten million WWII rehashes. Particularly since one of the defining differences between the Empire and the Republic is supposed to be that the Empire is racist against non-humans, meaning the Republic is supposed to be where (most of) the aliens end up. There was also some debate in the theater about human-washing the sacrifice of many Bothans… until people remembered those were the plans from the second Death Star.
- Also: more women. Given that TFA was pretty diverse, and RO was relatively ethnically diverse, I got the impression the lack of women, particularly in the earlier part of the film, might’ve been to try and keep it in line with the gender ratios in the original trilogy. I can kind of see the logic but I think it was a lousy choice. I did enjoy when more female pilots started showing up in the last battle scene–particularly since several of them seemed to be older–but, pls. More female characters needed all round.
- On the other hand, having dudes with terrible 1970s style mustaches to try and match the “fashion trends” of the originals? Fav.
- Actually, the aesthetic of the Star Wars ‘verse overall has dated very well. I do like that they’ve never tried to modernize it, so the tech does look “old fashioned” now… except that totally works, in line with the whole “long time ago in a galaxy far away” space fantasy vibe.
- Speaking of: I love space fantasy. There needs to be more space fantasy in the world, IMO.
- Gripe: The music was terrible. Disney, can we please not extend the MCU’s temp music disease into Star Wars?1 Thx.
- I really want to live on Empire Archive World. Seriously. We need more sci-fi in tropical and coastal areas. Less deserts and ice worlds, more palm trees and waves!
- On the other hand: Worst. Tape drive. Retrieval system. Ever. I mean, seriously. They have sentient droids and interstellar travel, but some kind of weird UFO catcher manual arm system for their tape library? Tape libraries now aren’t even manual!
- “We don’t need actors; we have CGI!” I’m really not sure what to think about that, to be honest. I mean, it’s one of those things you kind of know can be done; we’ve all seen Norman Reedus and Rami Malek and Ellen Page and whomever play “physically themselves” in various video games. But seeing it in the context of an otherwise live-action film? I dunno, man. Maybe I’m just old.
- I wasn’t a fan of the middle section with Vader (aside from the location, which lol), because I thought played him a bit too much in the “petty bureaucrat” vein and not enough in the “supernatural badass” vein. On the other hand, the end three minutes–which one of the people I went to see the film with described as “like a slasher movie”–totally made up for that. I also liked that we got to see Vader in his tank; Vader’s a badass but he’s also a disabled badass. And sometimes I think it’s good to be reminded that having no legs and being in constant, crippling pain doesn’t have to keep you from taking over the galaxy.
- The end three minutes are the best three minutes. The Republic dudes struggling to get their data disk out of the airlock? Holy shit that was tense.
- Awesome Droid was the best character. I do also like that the design was “humanoid-but-obviously-not-a-human-in-a-suit”. Because 2016! I guess? (But seriously: that “bulky-but-gangly” aesthetic? Love it.)
- Overall, the hell the Rogue One squad goes through makes anything Luke Skywalker ever did look tame and petty in comparison. It’s like, wow. These people have been going through hell their entire lives, but no worries you’re a magic space wizard so whatever. (Something-something-class-narrative-something-something.)
So… yeah. Flawed, but fun. I went into the film with the expectation of “cool pew pew battles in low orbit over alien planets” and in this I was not disappointed! Also, the film made me want to start playing Star Wars: The Old Republic again. Because my light side Togruta Sith Inquisitor2 could always do with a bit more love. ❤️
- In particular, watch the start of that video with the sound turned off. You can still tell, can’t you? You know exactly what that guy is singing. That’s an iconic score. [↩]
- I also have a Sith Pureblood Jedi Shadow. Because lol. He’s light-side too, though, mostly because I’m not twelve and most of the “dark side” choices in SWTOR are of the “roll eyes and sigh” variety. But what can you do? [↩]