GEEK OUT! ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Spoilers, duh!

Has social media been taken over by Disney press-bots? It gets very distressing when twentysomethings declare the standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One as “the best Star Wars movie ever”!

Yes, it is a top notch movie made in the spirit of George Lucas’ original trilogy and filled to the brim with the expected nods to nostalgia and highly emotional beats BUT in the final analysis, the story is hollow, meaningless AND pointless, except as a cynically commercial exercise.

The plot is simple and ‘borrowed’ from the opening crawl of the first Star Wars movie (aka Episode IV: A New Hope) –

“During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

It’s a back story of Star Wars that every diehard fan is familiar with. Did we care at all about who these Rebel spies were and what they did in order to make that possible? Nope. But Disney deemed that this rather meaningless story would be the appropriate basis for their first standalone Star Wars movie.

Why? Presumably because of this very familiarity, the risk was considerably lower than putting forth an entire new narrative set in the Star Wars universe, for which they’d paid Lucas $4 billion. Thus, the entire concept smacks of a cash-grab by Disney, hoping to exploit the Star Wars franchise in the same way Marvel Studios (also owned by Disney, mind you) did with its shared universe.

Director Gareth (Monsters, Godzilla) Edwards and his writers, Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll and Gary Whitta flesh out the basic premise by inserting a father-daughter dynamic between Death Star engineer Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and main character Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), with a band of rogue rebels on a suicide mission to save the galaxy.

All well and good but the fact that we know how it will all end strips the movie of any tension whatsoever. Worse still, the movie makers felt the need to tie this with the first Star Wars movie so badly that certain leaps in logic fall flat.

Not only that, but because of the setting, it was necessitated to bring Grand Moff Tarkin (originally played by the late Peter Cushing) as a CGI character and it does not work at all! This element utterly destroys any suspension of disbelief and takes you out of the movie completely.

Two more illogical points will suffice to demonstrate how flawed this approach turns out to be.

First, a seeming plot flaw in the first Star Wars movie is fixed by having the defect in the Death Star a deliberate fault designed by Galen Erso. This was never mentioned in the first Star Wars movie and whilst not as bad as the whole ‘Greedo shot first’ fracas, it is something that sticks in the craw.

Second, Princess Leia’s ship is attacked by Darth Vader’s imperial battleship at the very beginning of the first Star Wars movie, and when Vader confronts Leia, she pleads her innocence and claims that the ship is on a diplomatic mission. However, in Rogue One’s version of the events, the escaping Rebel ship (with the Death Star plans) is intercepted and boarded by stormtroopers, led by Darth Vader, but before they can gain full control, an escape ship is launched taking away the schematic plans. It is almost impossible to reconcile both versions – when did Princess Leia get on the Rebel ship? Or C3PO and R2D2 (shown earlier at the Rebel base Yavin IV) for that matter?

To give credit where it is due, as a movie, Rogue One contains less cringeworthy moments than the entire prequel trilogy and The Force Awakens but despite that fact, this achievement is largely hollow.

After all, there is nothing in Rogue One that progresses the Star Wars narrative one iota, it is merely an extravagant memorial to the (originally) nameless heroes that were listed as a footnote in the setup of the first Star Wars movie.

… still there’s more …