UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

Also, there may be a minor spoiler or two, but nothing really.

Halfway through Rogue One, a villainous Ben Mendhelson meets up with the biggest baddie of them all: Darth Vader. Ben gets a bit tedious, so Vader chokes him with the force and menacingly turns around to state (something along the lines of), “Be careful not to choke on your ambitions, director.”


Yeah, it’s a f***ing horrible line. But even worse is that this moment feels like a bizarro meta statement about this spinoff of the Star Wars franchise and The Force Awakens: that they haven’t really taken many chances since screwing up I, II and III; they play it safe, and they appease their already enormous audience rather than pissing them off again.

The problem is, some of us are not part of that audience. Some of us didn’t see A New Hope until they were already a cynical college sophomore who’d started to take film classes in order to get more cynical and poke more flaws in more things. And with that kind of formulaic, bland attitude, George Lucas and Co. promise not only to refuse to admit new fans to the Star Wars franchise during the Third Age, but also, in the process, send the franchise on a more dramatic downwards spiral than what Marvel is currently experiencing. But whatever. I’m super happy for everyone who applauded at this piece of garbage because at least they enjoyed it. Glad you got your money’s worth. Peasants.

(hit CONTINUE READING to continue listening to me be an a-hole)

I really didn’t love this one either, but my goodness it was SO MUCH BETTER.

At least The Force Awakens had some fun in the process. There was a certain magic to it, a certain camaraderie amongst characters, a light-heartedness, a sense of hope and love — those all go missing here. The main problem, I believe, boils down to this film’s two main characters: Felicity Jones as Jin, the Luke/Rey type, and (the particularly poor) Diego Luna as Cassian, or the sourest version of Han/Fin imaginable. Neither have much to work with, but neither are enjoyable even in the slightest to watch on screen for any amount of time (okay, Jin’s fighting skills are… decent). They have a mission. They follow their mission. That’s it. There’s no side steps along the way, nothing that shows us who these people really are beyond… rebels? But only kind of rebels? Because Jin doesn’t start as a rebel, but suddenly just kind of gets full on board and gives the “Hoo-Rah” speech that feels so out of place because, “No, we do not deserve for this character to be here at this point in the film, so go back and do more work in the first 90 minutes of the script, then come back to my office when it’s actually good and you’re scared it might not be, please, thank you.”

And it’s not like the work isn’t being done because we’re loading up our film with dope action of X-Wings, and light saber fights, crazy stuff happening with the force and people throwing crap all over the place with their minds. Nope! Instead we get a lot of meh gun fights, and some running, and… honestly, that’s about it. Once I realized this would be the case, and that everything every character says is exposition, it just became such a blur to get through. All I wanted was for it to end as soon as possible. But then when it comes to the end, (and here’s where that spoiler might be), we get a fantastic light saber fight scene with Darth Vader. Those two minutes are A++, without a doubt. He looks like an uber badass, the fighting feels realistic in that he would win despite the insurmountable odds, and there’s a tangible goal we’re watching at the same time… AH! It left such a good taste in my mouth after such a horrible movie. I guess it was more like tasting something, and then having that thing ripped off your tongue before you could swallow it. I dunno, man…

Darth Vader wears a really fun pair of pants in the final scene.

I’m not a fan, so you don’t have to listen to me, but I’ve always thought Star Wars lore boils down to the light sabers. When I was about 8 years old, I went as Obi-Wan Kenobi for Halloween — he was cool back then cause Ewen McGregor played him and I guess I liked the early episodes and I’m not ashamed to admit it because I don’t really like them now [except III, it honestly might be my favorite of the 8] — and the key to my costume was the light saber. I think that thing is still in my parents basement. Light sabers are some of the coolest weapons ever put on film, and this is a fact that no one can dispute. (Though Star Wars has actually done a good job trying to ruin them in this movie by putting too much detail into the science of it — I always thought only Jedi could activate them, which is something that I feel like Abrams hints at in VII and then Edwards takes an ax to in R1.) So why are we making Star Wars movies without light sabers? Without the force in general? (Other than in some crazy, religious, old blind guy who I thought for the longest time was going to turn his staff into a light saber, but alas…)

This script is only about as good as most of the scripts I read at my internship, and I only read bad scripts at my internship. I’ve recommended (with reservations, mind you) only one script at my internship. I’ve worked there for 8 months, two days a week. If I got this script, I’d have made up my mind 15 pages in — too much money, doesn’t make sense, bad writing, I don’t care, pass. There are so many characters in this story. And so many characters that either are irrelevant, or prove irrelevant by the end of it all. This isn’t a script about characters. It’s a script that’s about an objective. You could plug anyone into the roles of heroes and then roles of villains, and it wouldn’t really make a difference at all.

About as good as a villain written this poorly can be. Good job, Ben.

Which brings me to a final point, and then I promise I’ll shut up and go to bed because it’s 2 AM. Why are we making a movie about stealing the plans of the Death Star? Despite seeing it late, I did, in fact, watch A New Hope (so cheesy, but not as bad as V and VI), so guess what George? I know that the Death Star blows up! You’ve created a movie without any interesting characters, so the drama relies on the action of the film; but I know the result of the action because this movie is a prequel. Why would you let such a thing off the ground floor? Shame on you.

On a side note, I’ve decided that Christopher Nolan will emerge as the better Blockbuster director than Spielberg. Dunkirk will hold up better than Saving Private Ryan.

Good night.

Grade? C- (3/10)


Author: Max Wood

It just takes time. Hard work and your time. It could change your life.

2 thoughts on “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016)”

  1. Just started reading it but see a typo and thought you’d want to know ASAP:

    ” that they haven’t really taken many chances since screwing up I, II and II;”

    Pretty sure you meant to write …”I, II and III;”


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