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Star Wars: Rogue One

Rogue One was a good Star Wars film. But it had some flaws…

Star-Wars-Rogue-One-PosterStar Wars: Rogue One is the second film produced by the Disney juggernaut. It’s also the first Star Wars film ever that’s not a Saga film. In other words, it’s not about the Skywalker family. These non-saga films are called “Star Wars Stories” and they will be released in the off-year from the saga films. Han Solo and Yoda prequels and a Boba Fett film have all been teased.

Rogue One is a prequel to Episode IV, A New Hope. Remember how at the beginning of Episode IV, Princess Leia smuggled away plans for the Death Star by sending R2D2 to find Obi Wan Kenobi? And remember how the Death Star had this silly little exhaust port that could blow the whole thing up?

Rogue One is the story of how the Rebels got those plans.

Spoiler free stuff: the film is good. It’s not great, but it’s good. The characters are interesting and relatively well-developed (though it certainly helps if you’re familiar with the larger Star Wars universe. Of course, let’s not kid ourselves… who is going to see this as their first Star Wars film?). The humor is great – as funny as any of the other films. The plot isn’t any more McGuffan-driven than any other Star Wars film. The score is good – composer Michael Giacchino pays homage to Williams’ legendary score without feeling like a cheap imitation. And there’s loads of fan-service – whether it’s too much probably depends on how much of a fan you are.

Bottom line: if you like Star Wars, you’ll like this film, though I’d be pretty surprised if it cracks your top 3.

Now let’s spoil some stuff, shall we?


Thematically, the movie is sort of a mess. It’s supposed to be about bad guys – Jyn is rescued from prison and Cassian almost murders somebody once. Though they try hard to make us feel bad for these bad guys, Rogue One falls into the same trap as Suicide Squad: they spend so much time making us love all these rogues, they have to tell us how bad they are.

The film is also very short on character motivation – literally a whole squad of rogues show up and say, “We all did bad stuff. Maybe this one good thing can redeem us.” Rogue One was clearly going for a darker, more ambiguous tone, but we’ve had four movies of “Empire Bad. Rebels Good.” Plus the Empire just built the Death Star in this film. Even though the characters don’t know how powerful it is, we all saw Ben Kenobie collapse when millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. If you’re going to convince us that assassinating a weapons designer is bad or that blowing up the weapon he built is bad, you have to work a lot harder.

Rogue One really wanted its theme to be hope. We know this because they said the word approximately 17,000 times in the movie.

Any time there’s a great objection to a questionable decision – like “Why should the rebellion put all its eggs in one basket when said basket is the word of a woman who is the daughter of the chief imperial weapons designer, especially when we literally just met her 10 minutes ago?” (or other objections raised in the film) – some main character basically shouts, “BECAUSE HOPE!” as loudly as they can, everyone cheers, and then they move to the next plot point.

All that was missing was for someone to say, “Galactic Peace… that’s an old hope… an old hope that has died.” That way another character could look at the camera and say, “It’s time for A NEW HOPE!”

Other random thoughts that didn’t fit into the review:

  • K-2SO was great, but raised some pretty terrifying moral quandries the Star Wars universe has yet to address. He was reprogrammed to be a rebel. He repeatedly indicates he has no free will. But he’s conscious? Or just programmed with snark? Unclear. If he’s pure programming, his sacrifice at the end is meaningless (pure sentimentality). If he has some level of free will, where does it end and his programming begin? Did he choose not to be an imperial droid anymore? Do all droids have the same level of consciousness? Is there a Droid Rights movement?
  • Speaking of Activists, the Men’s Rights Activists worried Star Wars is getting too feminist need not worry. Felicity Jones was the only woman in the film 95% of the time. There was a female senator, a female X-Wing pilot and a bad-CGI Leia (whose only like was… wait for it… HOPE!)
  • Speaking of bad CGI… General Tarkin. Woof! They spent so much time asking if they COULD, the didn’t stop to ask if they SHOULD. They should not. Just cast someone else. Please. Pretty please.
  • Speaking of Men’s Rights Activists… let’s not speak of them ever.
  • Seriously that CGI was bad. Did they learn nothing from Jar-Jar?
  • Ugh Darth Vader. That whole scene was awful. But that line… someone should be forced to read Men’s Rights Activist blogs all day for a week for writing that line.
  • The third act space battle was cool, but pretty forgettable. I’d be surprised if we’re still talking about this film a year from now.
  • Chirrut Imwe was fantastic. I want more of these kinds of characters.
  • Is every pilot in the rebellion Cassian/Han/Poe? They are all basically the exact same character. Except Poe is nice.
  • Kudos to Disney for killing off all the main characters. That took guts. Or they didn’t want to pay multi-film contracts. Either way, I was sad.
  • The film’s explanation of the Death Star’s vulnerability is pretty brilliant.
  • Apparently Saw Gerrera’s brain eating monster didn’t actually eat Bodhi’s brain? Seriously… why even include that scene when Bodhi is fine two scenes later?
  • Also not paid off: Jyn’s lightsaber crystal necklace. They let her keep that in prison? When the whole empire is mining these things?
  • The beach scenes were a big let-down. No Stormtroopers in the water? Where did that footage go? It’s in literally every promotional image!
  • I really did like this movie. But it was a mess. That said, I’m in for more Star Wars Stories.

YOUR TURN: What did you think of Rogue One?

By JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.