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Friday, November 20, 2020

Rogue One Through Non-Fan Eyes

Previously, I reviewed Star Wars IV: A New Hope and decided it was a pretty good movie, even for a non-fan like me. Rather than go in either production order or chronological order, I chose Rogue One as my next film to watch.

Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rating: C

The reason why I went to Rogue One before continuing onto the next film in the original trilogy is that this film comes chronologically before A New Hope and probably has more impact if the two are seen close together, rather than with a lot of intervening films. However, I’ve seen it before, and I remember it being on the grimdark, downer side, thematically. It’s better to open on an upbeat, adventurous note with A New Hope and then do a brief rewind to see the sacrifices made before A New Hope begins.

That was a good call, but there was something I didn’t expect. I didn’t remember much detail from the first time I saw Rogue One, but I remember liking it well enough, not really seeing much difference, aside from tone, from the original movie. Based on foggy memories, I was expecting to rate it a B, maybe plus or minus. But rewatching it? Nah, it’s just a very average C movie.

The problems that keep it from rising to the level of “good movie, would recommend” mostly revolve around too much plot clutter and tedious stretches of action. For a good part of the first act, it’s not entirely clear what the movie’s going to be about, who is on the screen, and why we should care. Eventually, we figure out Jyn Erso is the main character, and the story is about reuniting with her father, with the complication that he may be on the side of the Empire, and she’s not sure which side she’s really on.

The problem is, the movie is at least half an hour longer than it needs to be, because it has an overly long, overly complicated final act about getting the Death Star plans. There’s a lot of “Get the thing and put it in the thing so we can do the thing, but these other guys have to get the other thing and move it to the third thing or we can’t do our thing, but when we try to do that, we find out we have to do yet another thing, which means we need a different thing, and then this thing happens…” and so on. It’s all kind of contrived, with way too many characters, most of which we don’t know, but we’re supposed to care about them, and they all have to be there because there needs to be a big fight that’s bigger than the one at the end of the original Star Wars movie or any of the other movies.

It’s movie design by formula, which will only get you so far.

So, although I still disagree with the fans who think this movie is terrible, I can’t agree with other fans that it’s pretty good. It’s just average. If you need a steady fix of Star Wars, this will do it for you, but it’s nothing you need to see.

Next Up: I still don’t go where you’d expect.

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  1. It's been a while since I watched it, but I'd guess my thoughts would be fairly similar. The points you make regarding its contrivances and overall length are spot on (on the other hand, I did enjoy many characterizations and scenes as different from normal - i.e. recent - Star Wars fare).

  2. I think Rogue One is the best of the Disney SW films, but my biggest problem with Rogue One is that the main characters spend the entire movie doing things for apparently no reason.

  3. This movie suffers from bad story-telling, bad character development, and confusing story points that make the rebellion appear no better than the empire. On top of that, this same story is told by the Radio Play. Using only the spoken word and audio special effects, the Radio Play did a vastly superior job.

  4. I found it mildly entertaining. Much less annoying than the Solo movie or the other Disney era films.