It’s easy for us fans to get wound up, and express our opinions passionately about the film franchises we love, whether we think something’s good or bad. I know I’ve been guilty of blind fandom in the past, or at the very least overlooking a film’s negative points if I simply had a good time.
However, with the recent release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I’m having a bit of trouble understanding a lot of the love the film is getting. Don’t get me wrong, I like a debate, and everybody’s entitled to an opinion, but to put it simply, I don’t just not like Rogue One, I think it’s a bad film.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a few level headed reasons that I believe Rogue One isn’t a good film.
SPOILER WARNING FOR ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
1 – Prequel-itis
The words ‘Star Wars’ and ‘prequel’ have some history together, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. My biggest issue with this film was that it did one of the worst things any prequel can do – it took forever to show us what we wanted to see.
Here’s the thing, everybody knows the story of this film (a band of Rebels attempt to steal the plans for the Death Star), and everybody knows how it ends (they do it), so why does it take this film an hour and a half to get to that part of the story? By the time anything interesting started happening, I was already bored, and that’s partly because…
2 – Give me somebody to care about
…there’s a huge lack of character development in this film, which means that when characters started heroically (if predictably) sacrificing themselves, I didn’t really care. No character has a real arc – you might argue Jyn Erso does, but she goes from Rebel to… Rebel. How do you think she ended up imprisoned at the beginning?
Speaking of Jyn Erso, arguably our main character, I would struggle to find three words that describe her personality. Feisty might be one, but apart from the opening scene that doesn’t really apply. We’re told and shown that she misses her Dad, but that would be mistaking back story for characters development.
To put it simply, Jyn Erso isn’t a good character, and she’s not alone there. The only character I genuinely cared about was K-2SO, party because of Alan Tudyk / Wash in Serenity flashbacks, but also because the comic relief is always easy to bond with. Just look at Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, which was a character with a lot less lines, and a character I cared a lot more about. Speaking of badly represented characters…
3 – Darth Vader
…Darth Vader, one of Rogue One‘s biggest selling points, didn’t really work in this film. Alright, getting to see him finally bust out the Lightsaber and chop his way through a bunch of red shirts (I guess in Star Wars it would be orange flight suits?) was satisfying in a way, but it was also a little bit strange to watch.
As with most out there science fiction characters from the 70’s and 80’s, Darth Vader looks a little bit dated now (see Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner or Sting in Dune). Watching a heavy, lumbering body move like that was strange and jarring. And that’s not the worst part.
Darth Vader is one of the most recognisable and intimidating villains in movie history, and here they have him… say a sassy quip as he force chokes somebody. This is a character that after almost 40 years is still the standard that on screen villains are compared to, and somebody thought it was a good idea to have him make a remark that falls somewhere around Roger Moore era James Bond in terms of wit. Speaking of Roger Moore era James Bond…
4 – Another Cliché Point
…how does a film that cost $200 million to make, and must have gone through literally hundreds of people before it was finished have so many clichés in it? We’re now in an era of cinema where meta jokes and commentary about the film industry have entered the mainstream, and yet what is potentially the biggest release of the year has some laughably outdated tropes.
One of the worst offenders was Cassian Andor killing somebody he’s on the same side as to prove he’ll do anything as a character. This is normally reserved for the bad guys, however the point remains, writers should be able to come up with something more original than this.
Worse than that however was the bad guy not killing somebody when he had the chance. Everything we’re told about Orson Krennic points to him being ruthless and having a bad temper, so why on earth would he stop when he sees Jyn Erso to ask ‘who are you?’. This is a trope that’s been parodied since the release of The Incredibles twelve years ago, but even worse than that is the fact that he already knows who she is. He saw her shout the word father at Galen earlier in the film, and a man that high up in the Empire probably knows who would call somebody father. Somebody’s child.
5 – Designer error…
This film opens with The Empire going to great lengths to find and ‘recruit’ Galen Erso, so they’re clearly a… company? Government? Conglomerate? They’re clearly people who care a lot about design. So let’s analyse the design of the facility they keep their information in.
All of the blueprints and information is stored in two giant tubes filled with floppy discs, surrounded by empty space, rather than some sort of alphabetic / convenient filing system.To locate the disc you need, you must be in one room using a console, which will make a light come on on your desired floppy disc. But it won’t select and bring you the disc you’ve asked for. To do that you need to be in a different room.
In here, you use a two handed analogue control system to manually move a grabby claw to pick out your desired files. Let’s hope the one you want isn’t on the back of the tubular storage system, because if it is, you won’t be able to see the light telling you which file you’re after.
It’s alright though, because to get into this room there are some doors from other floors in the tower. They don’t have any sort of ledge or balcony however, they simply open and you step out into the abyss, and presumably fall to your death. At the top of this room, there’s a hatch that opens and closes every four seconds or so. This can’t be used as a maintenance entrance, because that would be far too dangerous, it’s not used to let oxygen into the room, because there are no living things in there, and if it were a cooling system it would definitely be a fan. The computer I’m writing this on has a fan, and this is (presumably) a lot less high tech than the facility used to store the Empire’s most important documents.
Also, why is none of this information digital?
This article is getting a bit long, so we’re going into hyperdrive (aka speed round).
6 – Fan Service done wrong
Fan service and Easter eggs are both great tools, but they need to be subtle, and make people feel clever for noticing them. Showing a lengthy close up of a glass of blue milk made it impossible to miss, and having multiple shots of the scum (and villainy) Luke and Obi-Wan meet in A New Hope was almost embarrassingly heavy handed.
7 – The Tentacle Monster
Just think about that idea for a minute. An alien that can read minds and tell you whether or not somebody has good intentions is as believable as anything else in Star Wars, but one that makes a person crazy? Who use is that? Seriously, in a world with sentient droids that can process every aspect of human emotion, who would willingly use a living creature that will destroy the mind of a potential future ally? And, how would you get the information back out of that creature? Does it then go into your mind to let you know, and ruin you too?
8 – Jyn’s Necklace
Boy, they sure are showing a lot of close ups of that necklace. It’ll probably be important to powering the machine that’s going to transmit the Death Star plans, since her father designed the weak spot and her mother gave her the necklace. Or it’s just another in your face bit of fan service showing us a Kyber crystal.
9 – More like Death Poopers
Hey look at these cool new black Storm Troopers, they’re the Death Troopers, aka the best of the best in the Empire, let’s only put them in two scenes, one of which features them not being able to shoot a blind man slowly walking through an open space.
Even Captain Phasma was better.
No I take that back.
10 – Test the Death Star, but like, only a bit, because in Episode IV Grand Moff Tarkin says that blowing up Aalderaan is the ceremony that will make it operational, so we don’t really want to break continuity, but we do want to blow something up, actually two things, and partly testing the main weapon on your flagship battle station seems like something that could happen, right?
And why would they choose to blow up the place they were getting their supplies from? Would you blow up your kitchen?
What do you think about Rogue One? Do you have any well thought out replies to any of these points, using evidence from the film only? Share any thoughts in the comments.
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