I can already tell that I made you mad just by the title.
But hear me out on this, please. This is because I think that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is one of the most important films that easily demonstrates just how delusional fans of Star Wars can really be. However, I think it would be best for me to give a short review of what I thought of the movie overall.
In one sentence: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a movie that exists, has some cool action stuff, and has something to do with Star Wars.”
I didn’t love nor hate this movie. What I saw was a 2 hour long series of images that were mildly entertaining to me at certain points. That’s pretty much it. That isn’t to say that I don’t have praises or criticisms of the film itself. But, I don’t think the movie is even remotely worthy of having a deep, intellectual conversation over.
So why am I talking about it at all?
Yes. The die hard fans of Rogue One have attacked any sort of criticism of this movie with the fervor of an army making their last, heroic stand against the villainous tide washing over them. It’s almost like they are defending a religion, having an answer to any sort of point someone brings up where something doesn’t make sense in the movie, doesn’t work, or is just dumb or boring. These die hards use some amazing apologetics to justify why they like the movie and why everyone else should too, even though no one cares.
But, I’m making a post about this because the fact that so many people have to come and vigorously defend the media fortress from anyone not deemed “one of the tribe.” This is something so baffling to me. I just don’t understand why someone MUST correct someone else for their lack of enjoyment and enthusiasm for something they enjoy of not enjoy. Once you think about it, it sort of does seem like a religion, tied to a certain movie or franchise. I’ve discussed this at length on the audience versus critic divide. But now, this seems to extend to fans of the exact same thing, like two squabbling factions over who can roll faster down a hill. It just seems stupid.
Back to Rogue One. Honestly, never before have I seen such defending of a movie from its fans than I have seen from this one. It seems they have a point to refute you for every single point you make, even if it makes no sense at all. To see a perfect example, go to film critics Redlettermedia and check out their videos on Rogue One as well as read the comments. But now, I’m going to list some of these arguments and try to show you how little sense they make (at least to me).
1. “You just don’t understand. Rogue One is a war movie. Of course you can’t connect to the characters.”
This argument is one of the worst that I have heard in defense of Rogue One. That’s right, the reason why you like that war movie is not because of the characters and how you emotionally connect to them. It’s about the sacrifice of life, duty, heroic acts of altruism, brotherhood, etc.
Here is an argument of this type from a commenter Redlettermedia’s Facebook page:
I feel like RLM missed an important point about the characters in “Rogue One” and the main theme in the movie, which is that, in war, individualism gives way to collective action and sacrifice. Individuals are disposable in the long run. We know just enough about the characters in order for us to like them and the movie hints that they all have deeper, more mysterious issues in their pasts, but it doesn’t focus on those issues, because the characters (unlike the usual Messianic heroes in Star Wars) are normal, flawed, morally ambiguous people who are engaged in a struggle against fascism. We all remember FDR and Hitler and Patton from WWII but, how many of us can name even the major soldiers in the Battle of Bulge for example, let alone any of the grunts?
SPOILER: That’s why the end minute long scene of Vader cutting down all those Rebels while they essentially play “pass the baton” with the Death Star plans is so effective. It sums up the entire theme of the film, at least for me.
I think the context argument is BS, if you read or watch any series out of order you run the risk of not understanding what’s happening. Empire wouldn’t make any sense w/o Hope.
I loved “Rogue One”. I’d rank it behind Empire and A New Hope as the third best Star Wars film.
Yeah, right on man! That’s why we love war movies. We don’t need to have emotional investment in the characters. We need to see these normal, flawed people engaged in this struggle between good vs. evil, right and wrong. We know enough just to like them and we go from there. Any war movie that does this is on the path to success!
This is essentially a non-argument. What is a “war movie”? When most people hear that, they think of a movie about a war. Sure, there may be some existential themes but there are none that a specific requirement for being a “war movie”.
You can’t connect to Rogue One‘s characters because they aren’t written well. They have no depth, are uninteresting and, ultimately boring. Off the top of my head right now without looking, besides Jyn Urso and Mads Mikkelsen (whose character’s name is Galen (?) Urso), I don’t know the name of any other character besides ones we are very familiar with. I don’t even remember the name of the robot, and he was my favorite character!
The whole “war movie” thing is just an excuse to dismiss the bad and/or lack of writing for their characters. They don’t develop, they don’t grow, and they have nothing memorable about them. They only exist to serve the purpose of the plot. That’s it. Sure, YOU may like that, but that doesn’t make Rogue One this gritty masterpiece on par with Letters from Iwo Jima.
2. “Of course Rogue One has to be connected to the Star Wars franchise to make sense. Would you have liked Empire Strikes Back if they was no Star Wars movie before it?”
Yes. The Empire Strikes Back is a great movie in and of itself. Sure, something things may not have made sense without the original Star Wars. However, the characters in and of themselves have personality, likability, and depth to them. Also, the plot itself has its own beginning, middle, and end. Things happen in the classic climatic structure. This doesn’t happen with Rogue One. It just doesn’t stand on its own merits. Let’s look at some examples:
Do you have to see the movie before this one to enjoy it?
Or this one?
I think you are getting my point.
Yes, things need to be in context when part of a greater franchise but, for its OWN likability, it has to stand on its own. Rogue One, to me, doesn’t do that. I can watch Empire without having to see Star Wars to enjoy it.
3. “Rogue One is such a better movie than The Force Awakens. It’s much more real and visceral while The Force Awakens is childish and dumb.”
Rogue One was a much better Star Wars movie than The Force Awakens. Rogue One was meant for grown ups, while TFA was meant for kids. You can see this in the rating of each movie, the level of violence and espeically the leading lady of each flick. The leading lady of TFA is a childhood fantasy: being born pefect, and with super-talent. She can fly better than most experienced pilots and she is a better lightsaber fighter than a guy with skywalker DNA and years of dark side and jedi training. The leading lady of Rogue One is a real person: she has flaws and a troubled familiy history. She isnt perfect, in fact she has to work together with her fellow rebels on equal terms, and thereby defeat the empire in that battle. Rogue One was the better movie, since it was original (in terms of story) and meant for grown ups. TFA was a kids movie, a rehash of Episode 4, meant for restarting the franchise and getting LOTS of money.
I can understand not enjoying R1… but it took an orbital shit on TFA.
… for the same reason they both kind-of liked the VaJayJay Abrams’ Star Trek reboot: when you’ve gone a long time without something, and someone gives you at least a semblance of that thing, you go easy on it. This also explains how the Hershey corporation continues to make ‘chocolate’.
TFA is indefensible. If they’d released these two awful, forgettable movies in reverse order they’d have probably approached them the same way.
Basically, they hated the first movie too, but they didn’t realize it. Only their brains did.
Stop making finger paintings with shit. TFA is trash. If you like it you are shit for brains.
Yeah, I really bet you were thinking that when you saw the movie.
Again, whether or not The Force Awakens is good or not is beside the point. Rogue One just doesn’t have what it takes to be a good movie (nor a bad movie). It’s not contingent upon another movie’s likability.
4. “It fills an important plot hole in A New Hope.”
So important to make a whole movie out of it?
Sure, it could be an interesting story to tell, but was it something that needed to be told? Well, no. It’s like saying “Did we need to know who the Scorpion King was in Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy?” And the answer to that was no as well!
Again, this was something that Rogue One needed to overcome. It had a steep hill to climb to prove that it was a story worthy of being part of the cinematic universe. But, sadly, it couldn’t make it up that hill. This is why I’m more neutrally disappointed more than anything about this movie. It just didn’t bring enough to the table to justify its existence and relevancy to me. So, that’s why I find it bizarre that was so fervently defended.
I’ll Let You Decide
So, again, your view and interpretation is up to you. If you love this movie: great. If you think the arguments made by fans are actually compelling and work for you: great. But please, don’t be the missionary and have to convert people to your side on how much you love Rogue One or how good you think it is. Some people out there in the world will not like the things you do, and you have to accept that. Try not to engage in apologetics. For all of us to become better critics, we need to become more open-minded so we can engage intellectually and debate. When you have nothing but dogmatic passion driving you to fight against the other side just because they are the other side, it only breeds resentment. So, for everyone, try not completely lose your shit if someone likes or dislikes something you like. Discuss, debate, but there is no reason for near-borderline religious arguments over a movie.
I give Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a 6 AT-ATs fighting a small stealth force on tropical islands out of 10. It has some fun and amazing action sequences, beautiful design work, nice dark tone and atmosphere, and (with the exception of Donnie Yen’s character and the AT-ATs) used previous imagery and ideas to suit its needs in a sensible fashion. However, its serious lack of character development, boring plot, and uninteresting dialogue and progression really hamper this movie down for me. I really wanted to like this movie but I just couldn’t. But, I didn’t dislike it or hate it. I saw it. That’s all I really have to say. And that’s disappointing for a Star Wars movie.