Posted by: cousindampier | 26 January 2017

I love Star Wars and Rogue One was bad

With Lucasfilm Story Group’s belated attempt to fix a relatively-major plot hole in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the reason Leia was at Scarif in the first place – the backtracking of the confusing, black hole of a plot that is Rogue One has begun, and with good measure: by any standard, even Star Wars standards – Rogue One was a bad movie.

There were some good moments. The space battle was incredible, probably the best after Endor. The final scene with Vader immediately landed among the pantheon of Star Wars scenes. Of the visuals Star Wars never provided, Vader blowing his way through a few dozen troopers is one and to see it in action took away my ability to speak coherently for a week. Just the sight of that red lightsaber with nobody else around was enough to make me scared for my life.

From the Marvel comics. I felt afraid after seeing Vader.  I think I died for a minute or two.

To the good bad stuff:

A. Orson Krennic is an awful bad guy, and not in a Hitler-ite way. He is more Trump-ite: an utterly forgettable, narcissistic bully. He isn’t mean, he is just annoying, and this is sad, because Ben Mendelsohn played Krennic in excellent fashion. Krennic’s entire existence is as if Disney went through George Lucas’s Phantom Menace archives and found a character too poorly written even for that film and decided to put him to use.

Aside from shooting some scientists, Krennic does little else to make himself a villain. He forces Galen Erso to come back and build the Death Star. He…defends Scarif and his whole project against the Rebellion? Or what about the time he is too incompetent to catch a major design flaw and massive leak? Or what about the time he stands up to Darth Vader?

Krennic is far more boring than Vader and Boba Fett. He is more boring than Darth Maul. Even Count Dooku seemed evil. Krennic is just a dick.

B. The ending is the single worst Star Wars ending aside from Phantom Menace. It is a false dichotomy in a massive way: Cassian is healthy enough to move…but only to the beach.

Disregard the fact that there are 13 (or more) landing pads at Scarif. Disregard the fact that the whole Rebel Fleet is still hanging out in space. Disregard the fact that Jyn is a fighter and she has been her whole life but now she’s just going to call it a day. Either Cassian is too hurt to move – in which case he should watch his impending death on a skyscraper, which doesn’t sound much worse than a beach – or spent his last few minutes of life working to find an escape. Both Jyn and Cassian fought through so much, and I am supposed to believe they are both just giving up? I recognize the movie is trying to be tragic and dark, but that idea is insulting to both characters and it comes off as corny instead.

If Cassian and Jyn needed to die, show them getting to the ship. Make a damn effort to live. Don’t insult the viewer by making what should be a thrilling raid to steal the Death Star Plans nothing more than a scene out of the Leonardo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet.

C. “Hey, Baby Boomers! Do you remember the first time you saw Star Wars in theaters?
Guess what – it’s back! With all the explosions and heroism and desperation you remember, and you know what else? We’re going to take you back to your old favorites – maybe it’s the explosion from Dr. Strangelove, maybe it will remind you of On the Beach, but either way it is going to look an awful lot like a nuclear holocaust sweeping towards two main characters who just happen to fall deeply in love and die in each others arms!”
The final scene was the last gasp of the nuclear holocaust movies our parents watched in 1967.

D. Back to Cassian – he is phenomenal. He is a complicated character, showing the extremist edge of the Rebellion, killing without conscience. His recruitment of the band of Rebels to fight on Scarif is revealing of a complex movement, one which is not just the counter to Imperial evil; but which is political, extremist in nature, and brings a grain of truth to the Imperial desire to ‘bring order to the galaxy.’ With Cassian, the Rebellion ceases to be a shining star, far in the distance, but rather a burning, bubbling one up close.

So why not kill him and cut off that storyline, because that makes sense.

If Disney is going to do this one-off stories, the look into the life of a Rebel soldier is a story rich with possibilities. Cassian was a perfect connection to such a movie, and now he is dead.

E. The Red 5 death scene is the Jar-Jar Binks of this movie. It is insulting, dumb and totally unneeded.

The short of it: Red Squadron goes into battle, and at some point Red 5 gets shot down. He is the only pilot we see shot down while saying his callsign, and it explains why Luke is Red 5 at the Battle of Yavin.

Except…what, Luke was going to show up on Yavin as a pilot and the Rebellion was going to say, “Ahhhhhhhhh man, Luke, listen, buddy, pal…I know you’re a pilot and all but we already have full squadrons and we can’t just send out a Red 13 to do battle with a superweapon space station which is going to kill us all. I mean, that’d be crazy! Who ever heard of 13 ships in a squadron? Sorry – we just can’t allow it.”

Luke was going to fly against the Death Star no matter if he was Red 5 or Red 40. There were obviously enough X-Wings on Yavin – most of the squadron was shot down over Scarif and there were still enough to go around. The scene takes away from what is an incredible space battle.

F. Gold Squadron famously gets destroyed at the Battle of Yavin. Yet, Rogue One wants me to believe that in a massive space battle with a fuckload of TIE fighters, they do allright. But against the Death Star, with 13 TIE fighters (Black Squadron + Vader) and an entire squadron of X-Wings to fight those TIEs, they get destroyed.

G. Jyn Erso is a hunted woman. Given how the film presents her, if the Empire knew of her existence, they would want her. And if they found her, they would probably question her about what she’d been up to while away.

This is not hard, and yet the Rebellion brings her to their main base at Yavin 4. The one they are trying to keep a secret. The one Grand Moff Tarkin wants to find.  HOW DOES THIS MAKE ANY SENSE.

For Fuck’s Sake, she’s not even a trustworthy person when they bring her in, and yet they bring her to the most important planet in the galaxy.

H. Rounding back to Leia, the backtracking by Lucasfilm not only doesn’t help, it makes things more dumb. Leia is at the Battle of Scarif in the Tantive IV, but she was hidden in Admiral Fishbot’s Mon Calamari cruiser (of which the design is an idiotic monstrosity; yet I digress) the entire time. We don’t see her until the final scene. The idea is ridiculous: Princess Leia is put at risk in Admiral Raddus’s flagship while he fights a massive space battle above a well-defended Imperial planet. Much like Jyn Erso, the Empire probably wants Princess Leia as well. The logic here, as best I can figure, is that when you can put a key figure of the Rebellion at risk, you might as well do so.

Now the story is that Raddus and Leia were on the way to pick up Obi-Wan Kenobi off Tatooine when they heard about Scarif, and they changed course to fight there instead.

This all makes sense aside from the realization that the Rebellion was sending the entire fleet to grab Obi-Wan Kenobi, which surely would alert a few Imperials as to his existence. And since Obi-Wan was not sitting there waiting for his ride like I used to do when I was too lazy to walk home from High School, it was going to take some time to find and convince him to go. And there was this whole problem of the vow to guard Luke, so he was going to have to fix up that whole mess before he left, so all this time the Rebel Fleet was going to hang out above Tatooine just…waiting for the Imperials to arrive. Lucasfilm fixed a plot hole by making everyone seem stupid instead.

Rogue One sucked. I love Star Wars, and it is painful to say. I still know the number of the trash compactor where Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie were stuck in. I spent inordinate amounts of money on Decipher’s Card Game. I saw Attack of the Clones seven times in theaters and twice in IMAX. Hell, I read all the books, and that includes Kevin J. Andeson’s Jedi Acadamy Trilogy. AND Crystal Star, which was so bad I fell off two grades in my reading levels. Crystal Star is to the Star Wars Universe what Pearl Harbor is to World War II films, and that’s a massive insult to Pearl Harbor.

Rogue One was a bad action movie set in the Star Wars universe, and the only things it lacked were a bad cover of ‘Wonderwall’ at the end and an Executive Producer credit for Michael Bay.

My only hope is the next stand-alone is good.

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