by Brad Nelson 5/28/17
Rogue One tells the story of the downfall of the Death Star that materially occurs later in Star Wars: A New Hope. The plans for the Death Star are stolen from the Imperial archive and transmitted to rebel forces. These plans, as you know, end up in the memory banks of R2D2. And off we go.
So, first off, there is no new ground being broken here. Although I think the designers did an excellent job of evoking the look of the original Star Wars, the story itself is not memorable. But at least unlike the truly horrible Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rogue One is watchable from a purely throw-away-entertainment standpoint. Star Wars purists (such as myself…if there are many left…we’re sort of like Obi-Wan at the start of A New Hope, exiled to a cave) may bemoan the lack of good characters and story, but most people care only that a lot of things are moving on the screen at the same time and look good.
Indeed, the movie looks very good. But although this isn’t as horrible as the prequels or Episode VII, it is still more cotton-candy for the mind. The central character, Jyn Erso, fufills seemingly the only one requirement placed upon this character: to be female. Beyond that, Felicity Jones offers absolutely zero in regards to acting, character, or charisma. (She’s no Carrie Fisher.) Her only positive attribute is that she is not annoying like, say, Jar Jar Binks. But even in that respect, Jar Jar wins because at least he is memorable, if only in a bad way.
Jyn Erso, on the other hand, is just lifeless and bland. The rest of the cast isn’t much better. None of these characters seem like real people with the possible exception of Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) who at least gives the impression that he is fighting for a cause he believes in. The rest of them are cardboard cutout characters, especially including the really stupid Chirrut Îmwe character who seemingly escaped from a Jackie Chan parallel universe.
At times, Mad Mikkelsen (who plays Galen Erso, the chief scientist behind the Death Star) plays a grown-up and sober character, almost reminiscent of someone you’d find in the better Star Wars movies. But his role is minimal.
As one reviewer noted, this isn’t a movie so much as a nod to various previous Star Wars elements. If you like Darth Vader — check — you’ll see Darth Vader. If it thrills you to see someone who is made to look like Peter Cushing (or is that CGI?), then you’ll be happy to relive that memory as well. And that’s the heart (or lack of same) and soul of this movie. It provides no new memories but simply lives on recycling the old ones.
Watch it. It has entertainment value. And it obviously made a lot of money which is the only judge of quality these days (aside from having politically correct themes, which really doesn’t apply in this case). But as a worthy addition to the Star Wars legacy, it is a bust and will quickly be forgotten while the original trilogy will remain an icon, and rightly so.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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