That Last 40 Minutes Yo: A Review of ‘Rogue One’
To keep the bulk of this thing spoiler-free, I’m just going to go ahead and fire off my nutshell thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story along with tackling the major questions surrounding it, which will hopefully help you decide whether or not to see it in the theater – Yes, do that. – but also how to manage your expectations going in because you’re going to want to do that, too. On that note, I’m also going to eschew my usual formula because I really have myself convinced that I’m not going to drop three hours on this puppy. I actually feel pretty good about this one. [UPDATE: I’m already two hours in. Send help. Anyone…]
Is It The *Best* Star Wars Movie Ever?
I don’t know. Maybe? That really depends on you. Look, there is a huge amount of hype surrounding this thing right now. And as someone who tried to steel himself from it, I’m on Facebook and Twitter all day for work, so of course I couldn’t help but see the gushing reviews from people leaving the theater and be affected by it. Which is a shame because the first hour or so of Rogue One is kind of a mixed bag. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, but I’m also trying really hard not to use the word “drags.” If you’re a diehard Star Wars fan, and I am, it really gets in the weeds.
However, the last 45 minutes are a goddamn, delicious eye candy bonanza full of the classic Star Wars you know and love. It goes straight for the nostalgia boner and entirely makes the rest of the movie worth it.
As for being the “best,” it’s not whatever the fuck George Lucas was doing in Episodes I-III – Something about space AIDS giving Jedis the Force. Why, God? – so right off the bat it’s fine. It’s automatically one of the “good” Star Wars movie. As for using CGI just because it could and not necessarily because it should, which defines the prequels in spades, uhh… we’ll get to that.
Is It Better Than The Force Awakens?
Wow, goddammit. Again, this is all based on personal preference. For me, I will say that Rogue One made me look back and appreciate a lot of the things that The Force Awakens got right that were lost in the mix about how much it just rehashed A New Hope. Which it definitely did. But in doing that, The Force Awakens was almost a refresher course on why everyone went nerd bananas for Star Wars in the first place while also propelling the franchise forward with a new set of characters. Also, and again this is just my opinion, it is considerably more rewatchable than Rogue One. That last 40 minutes was a fucking feast, but I don’t know how ready I am to slog through the rest of the movie to get there.
That said, both movies do different things better than the other, and I would be hard-pressed to say either one is a piece of shit or that one mops the floor with the other. They’re both really good Star Wars movies with their own unique flaws. Also, neither one was written and directed by George Lucas during his sit on a couch and direct people in a giant green screen dome phase, so I really can’t stress what a charmed and unbelievable age we’re living in.
Is It Really An Anti-Trump Movie?
Haha, what? No. Listen, it’s no secret that the Empire was based on Nazi Germany back when Star Wars was first created 40 years ago and Trump was just a silver spoon nobody working for his daddy by not renting apartments to black people. Now, did he win the presidency on a wave of white supremacy rhetoric and surround himself with people with Nazi-esque if not straight-up Nazi viewpoints? You bet. So I guess you could say Rogue One is an anti-Trump movie because its core message is Nazis are bad. Which didn’t used to be a controversial thing to say in America, but here we are.
As for the diverse, multi-cultural cast – Right down to a maybe gay couple! – these decisions were made way before anyone even knew Trump had an actual shot at the presidency. Which, for the record, didn’t happen until late in the night on November 8 and was a surprise to even him. So that cast was already there to highlight the wickedness of the Empire’s racist, dictatorial viewpoints – something that’s always been Star Wars canon – years before white supremacy and demagoguery came back in vogue for winning presidential elections.
Long story short, Rogue One is only anti-Trump if you acknowledge that Trump is a goddamn Nazi. Which must be what the dumb-fuck #DumpStarWars protestors are admitting because that’s the only way their stupid shit makes sense.
SPOILER ALERT: Okay, now’s the part where I’m going to nitpick things I liked and didn’t like. Although, there really isn’t a whole lot to spoil because I probably shouldn’t say this, but they get the plans to the Death Star, and then Luke Skywalker blows the whole thing up. There was a small, independent movie about it back in the 70s. You probably never heard of it.
The Things I Didn’t Like
- Holy Jesus Ass Christ, somebody kill CGI Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia with fire! That is some unholy, Polar Express, uncanny valley type shit. No, ILM. No. Bad.
- Karate Jedi Guy. Apparently Donnie Yen’s character’s name is Chirrut, which I had no idea until I read it on the internet hours later. Anyway, for a movie that was supposed to forego the Force and focus on the everyday fighters of the Rebellion, Rogue One sure did pussy-foot its way into using a Jedi, but not really using a Jedi. Either give the dude a fucking lightsaber, or cut the Daredevil shit altogether. I know a lot of people loved this guy, but he was such a blatant plot device.
“That person’s going to do something that none of you would have ever guessed without me.”
“How do you know that?”
“The Force. P.S. Not a Jedi though.” *does total Jedi shit*
- This one I’m not so much against as I thought it just kind of rang hollow, but here goes: Everyone fucking dies. I’m talking everyone. Was there a new character introduced? They’re fucking dead. And while I get that this is a bold move for a Disney/Star Wars movie to make, and that it’s supposed to highlight the level of sacrifice it took to get the first Death Star plans, it falls really flat. Mostly because you start to realize not too far into the last battle that the main characters are going to start eating it one-by-one. Which is weird because Rogue One spends way too long trying to get you to invest in them only to go, “Haha! Fooled you. They’re all dead.” And my brain’s reaction to that was, “Oh thank fuck,” because clearly it could stop trying to give a shit. Although, now it’s kind of mad because why did you spend so long trying to make it give a shit?!
The Things I Liked
- That sweet, classic 70s Star Wars look. Fucking crushed it.
- Imperial Officer Danny Rayburn. (If you got that reference, you’re my people.)
- Have I mentioned the last 40 minutes of this movie? Dear God, the last 40 minutes of this movie. As much as I bitched about everything leading up to it, I’m already contemplating catching it in 3D, and I fucking hate 3D. I betcha there’ll be teenagers there, too. Sonofabitch.
Score: 4 out of 5 log childs.