SPOILER ALERT!! The above cool-looking image is not shown in Rogue One despite being used in marketing.
As I said in previous posts, I’m no fan of Andor, the Disney-Plus series that is a prequel to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. And as I have said in previous posts, I’m no fan of Rogue One. When I first heard that Disney was going to have a prequel about a group that gets the plan for the Death Star in the first Star Wars which would later be called Episode IV: A New Hope, I was cautious.
And then, I saw the previews and I thought, that looks pretty good. And then I saw the movie, and I thought, that looks pretty bad.
For one thing, a lot of the scenes and images used in the trailers, commercials and previews weren’t in the movie. By the time, Rogue One hit theaters on Dec. 16, 2016, it had been widely reported that during the summer of 2016, Disney had ordered several weeks of rewrites and reshoots, most of them handled by Tony Gilroy, who had gone from being a script doctor to an actual credited script-writer. Post-production wrapped on Nov. 28, 2016, a mere three weeks before the movie opened.
It’s not a rarity for movies to be doing reshoots so quickly before the movie’s premiere. Terminator 2: Judgment Day was filming reshoots about two weeks before its premiere. The difference here is that T2 is a great movie and even greater sequel. Rogue One feels like a fanfilm. And it was one of the most expensive movies at the time where a budget of $265 million, which is very high for a movie that seems to exist only to fill a plot hole from A New Hope.
As a matter of fact, there are many Star Wars books that could’ve probably been more adequate for adaptation. Rogue One is based on a sentence that is seen in the opening crawl of A New Hope. While I’m sure some people have thought how exactly did the Rebel Alliance get ahold of the plans of the Death Star, I look at it as kinda the old saying about movie-making whch goes, “You don’t ever have to do the dishes.” In other words, you don’t have to show someone washing dishes. You just film them putting a dish in the drainer with the other dishes. Or you have someone come out of the kitchen drying their hands with the drainer full of dishes in the background.
But unfortunately, Rogue One is more concerned with how the dishes are washed and thinks we as the audience would be interested to. There is some thrills to the final act of Rogue One, which takes place mostly on Scarif and the space above a forcefield, but we’ve seen this final act before in Return of the Jedi. And that’s when it becomes apparent that both The Force Awakens and Rogue One are really nothing more than subtle remakes of better Star Wars movies. The Force Awakens is so much like A New Hope, I could make an entirely different post about it.
But the action on Scarif as the Rebels of Rogue attempt to locate and retrieve the blueprints of the Death Star pack some thrills. It’s just a shame none of the characters in the movie are likeable nor do we care about them. We know they’re going to succeed. Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the stereotyical renegade woman who wears black and grey clothes but always has a nice head of hair. Jones is just not too believable in the role and has little to no emotion throughout the two-hour plus run time. Jones has played different characters. I was surprised at her performance as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But it’s like they told her that if she showed too much emotion she wouldn’t get paid.
And then, there’s Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who is your Latino Han Solo wannabe. I feel the problem was Luna was already hired and locked in when J.J. Abrams decided that Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron shouldn’t die in TFA and Disney didn’t want to feel like it was repeating the character so they redid scenes to take all the charisma from Andor. Poe is a very three-dimension character. Andor is dull and boring. And I guess they decided to make him dull and boring in the series.
The movie opens with Jyn as a child and her father, Galen (an underused Mads Mikkelsen), is kidnapped by Imperial forces led by Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) to complete his work on the Death Star. Galen has been hiding on the planet Lah’mu. Galen’s wife is killed while Jyn goes in hiding only to be discovered by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).
Then the movie goes ahead 13 years as Andor has discovered about the defection of a Imperial cargo pilot Bodhi Rock (Riz Ahmed), who has taken a holographic message that Galen made to Gerrera on the desert moon of Jedha. Andor and a reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2S0 (voiced by Alan Tudyk) are able to get Jyn out of a labor camp on Wobani and bring her to Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) to see if they can locate Galen so the Alliance can find out any info on the Death Star.
The movie jerks us around to so many different locations so fast, it doesn’t have the flow other Star Wars movies have. Also, Andor is under strict orders to kill Galen when they find him. But the Death Star is nearing completion before it can be operational. However, Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry with CGI of the late Peter Cushing’s face creepily imposed) and Krennic are butting heads because Rock’s defection puts the secrecy of the Death Star at risk.
If this is hurting your head, don’t be surprised. Director Gareth Edwards seems to give us a Star Wars that’s more about people talking about who has the biggest penis. At the same time, Andor and Jyn manage to find Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) a blind warrior who was believed to be the Guardian of the Whills and fellow mercenary friend, Baze Walbus (Jiang Wen) who help them out. So, now they have their own ragtag group of people. It’s like The Dirty Dozen in Space (and several planets, moons, etc. with Earth-like terrains).
All of this might have been better had all these scenes flowed a little better. But you can tell how the reshoots reshaped the movie. Saw finally appears later but he looks paranoid and his body battered from the years of fighting. But Saw seems only to be in this one scene where they view the halogram message. Reports indicate that Saw was going to have a bigger role in the movie before the reshoots. Because Saw was such a major character in The Clone Wars, reducing his scenes makes his paranoia and death seem less pertinent to the story.
But then, we go off to another planet, Eadu, where the imperial research facility is located and where Galen and others are working. I must admit that moving around all the different locations never does make much sense, especially since most of the locations don’t look much different except for the title card that appears telling us it’s a different planet or moon. The only one that seems the most impressive is when we finally see the castle Darth Vadar lives in on Mustafar. But even this one is so briefly shown. Even worse, they turned Vadar into Lt. Horatio Caine from CSI:Miami as he force-chokes Krennic when his ego gets the best of him. Vadar tells him, “Be careful not to choke on your aspirations.”
The only thing missing is a scream by Roger Daltrey.
The scenes are Scarif finally pick up some of the action but I must say that knowing what happens ruins some of the excitement. Needless to say everyone either dies in battle or are blasted to smithereens when the Death Star destroys the location on Scarif, killing Jyn and Andor whose celebraton is cut short after uploading the plans to the Rebel Fleet located in space above the planet. But even the fleet is destroyed because anyone whose seen A New Hope knows there’s only one ship under the helm of Captain Antilles with R2-D2 and C-3PO (who appear in a brief cameo) on board.
I understand that they also had to find a reason not much is said about Rogue One in the original trilogy, but they were also two sequels planned following TFA. They could’ver had the characters reappear there. But considering how Abrams and Rian Johnson pretty much didn’t pay any attention to each other, the less said about the sequel trilogy, the better. I still like The Last Jedi despite the how many SW fans downright despise every frame of the movie.
I think why people liked Rogue One and TFA is both movies tapped into the nostaglia for the original trilogy. But homages can only go so far. It’s like the The Chris Farley Show and someone is saying, “Remember when the guy with the pig-nose showed up in the catalina? He’s here too. That’s awesome.” Some filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Brian DePalma became successful making movies similar to those they grew up loving. But Edwards also directed the 2014 Godzilla movie that lacked many scenes of the giant lizard and instead focused in a plotline with Aaron Taylor-Johnson acting just as emotionless as Jones and as dull as Luna.
It seems Disney was so anxious to release these spin-off movies in between the years of the sequels that they didn’t bother to think the best think George Lucas did was space them out over a few years. But considering that there are multiple MCU movies released every years, Disney is really pushing what they can on people.
What do you think? Please comment.