Review: 'Rogue One'

by Robert Delany

Photo Courtesy of Facebook 

Do you remember how you reacted the first time you discovered that caterpillars turn into butterflies? That these insignificant-looking inch-sized creatures go through a metamorphosis akin to some permanent Jekyll and Hyde experiment? Were you horrified? Amazed? Disappointed?

 

I think I am reliving that kind of moment.

 

Let me explain. Imagine that I am a huge fan of caterpillars. Caterpillars are all I think about, all I care about and they inspire my imagination like few things do.

 

Now imagine that I hate butterflies. That I am ideologically opposed to everything that butterflies stand for, but butterflies still become wildly popular despite my passionate umbrage.

 

This is how it feels to be a childhood fan of the Star Wars saga right now—and what it's like to see one’s childhood obsession go through a terrifying transformation into the paragon of modern Hollywood slop. Rogue One has marked the final transformation of the Star Wars franchise; the caterpillar is dead and gone.

 

I have written much on this subject so far, and Rogue One is the nightmare that I was afraid of after the previous installment to the Star Wars series.

 

Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One surrounds the stealing of the Death Star plans that was referenced in Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope. We follow Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who is the daughter of the Death Star’s lead engineer, as she makes her way in the world of a rebel.

 

Rounding out the cast’s notables is Forest Whitaker as the gruff extremist rebel Saw Gerrera, Diego Luna as the dubious rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor and Donnie Yen as the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe.

 

Just like The Force Awakens, Rogue One disappoints on every level. The script is as cloying as it gets. Cliché lines like, “You aren’t the only one who has lost everything,” and “I’m not used to people sticking around,” are spliced between awkward references to The Force and cheesy battle cries.

 

It seemed like writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy penned a bland wartime resistance film and then had to shoehorn as many Star Wars buzzwords into the script as possible.

 

This brings us to the narrative. Contrary to the film’s marketing, this is not “A Star Wars Story.”  The narrative mirrors every boring World War II B-film out there.

 

Just like the script, the film careens down the path of a typical military epic, while occasionally referencing The Force to remind the audience that this is a Star Wars film.

 

The performances are lackluster. No actor stood out among the crowd, except maybe the voice for Cassian’s robot companion K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). It seemed like the filmmakers took more care to draft all the actors who are still alive from the original Star Wars films instead of finding new and exciting talent to add something to the series.

 

What is interesting to me about this film is that it exposes the raw underbelly of Disney’s plan for Star Wars. To Disney, Star Wars can be whatever they want it to be, and the company can make millions strafing between demographics as they add more and more to the series.

 

If you need more proof, look at the upcoming Star Wars films. 

 

The “Young Han Solo” film will target the 18-35 demographic, bringing a young person’s spin on the gruff smuggler. Episode VIII is penned to have an “indie” feel, and is promised to get darker than The Force Awakens in an attempt to satisfy a more intellectual crowd. The Boba Fett spin-off will satisfy the action junkies, as that film is sure to have many bloody fight sequences.

 

I could go on and on.  Disney will get to decide what Star Wars is from now on, and ignore a gargantuan history of Star Wars content while doing so.

 

Overall, if you are a hardcore fan, just move on. There is no use wailing about Disney’s bastardization of the franchise anymore, because it will keep happening as long as the films make the staggering amounts of money that they do.

 

Instead, if you want to enjoy Star Wars, go backwards. Watch the original films. Read the novels. Play the video games. Read the comic books. Watch the animated series.  There is so much to enjoy.

 

Ignore Rogue One, ignore The Force Awakens, and dive into the depths of the incredible imaginative universe that George Lucas unleashed on the world.

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