I've been tricked. I've been tricked by a movie, and now I think I hate it.
I don't even know how I've been tricked, but I was.
Here was the series of events composing my night. I helped a friend with their resume, ironed my shirts for work, and went "I should see Rogue One." I bought tickets, drove down to the theater, saw Rogue One, stood up and went "that was a pretty good movie." I drove home, sat down, and realized I don't remember a single thing that happened in that movie aside from a handful of scenes, none of which I remember very fondly.
Star Wars: Rogue One a.k.a yet another movie featuring the Death Star, is, for those few who don't know, a movie about a bunch of people who are part of the rebellion, who want to steal the Death Star plans. Well. No. Not at first. Let's get in to the details, which means that yes, spoilers for a new movie are next.
The cast of characters is made up of about 6 or so people whose names you will not remember, because they aren't actually that important. There's Jen somebody, who is apparently British. Her dad is the villain from Casino Royale, her mom is some lady who dies. Then there's HK-47, except instead of being endearingly murderous, he just sort of talks. He is the best part of the movie on reflect. Rounding off the main main characters is Captain Spanish accent, who looked too much like a guy I knew from college. Despite the movie taking place over at least a few days, his beard never gets any longer.
Rounding out the minor characters are blind asian kung fu guy, and other asian guy with a gun. Then there's also pilot man. He is a pilot. Then there's villain guy, who is dressed in white this time instead of black.
Guest appearances include Darth Vader with a really thick neck, like really thick, and CGI Grand Moff Tarkin, who looks like a corpse. Probably because he's old. There's also CGI Carrie Fisher who they made look young because fuck you I guess. In the brief moment she is one screen, she acts nothing like Princess Leia and everything like a super positive Disney princess.
Here's where the trick comes in, and you'll be caught by it too. They introduce ideas in the movie that seem interesting on the surface, and then do nothing with them. By the time you realize that nothing has actually happened, the action sequence has started, so you sit back and watch pretty lights flash on screen. This lulls you in to a sense of comfort, so you leave the theater happy, none the wiser about how you've been tricked.
Most of the plots introduced in the movie are resolved within the film, which is fine, except they tend to be resolved by the time they need to move on to the next plot. For instance, Jen Something has a black friend who was her surrogate dad. He's in a suit that helps him breathe, but he's not James Earl Jones, which makes it pretty confusing. She meets this guy, resolves their character conflict within two scenes, and then the guy dies as she leaves the planet to move on to the next plot point. That plot point being her dad.
You can really divide this movie up in to three movies that are all sort of mediocre. Black Guy at the Jedi City, Sad Dad at the Rainy Thing, and Tropical Island Murder Sequence. Each of these acts is a self contained story that just happens to contain the same characters as before, starting with emotions, containing mild character development, ending with characters dying, and then Jen feeling sad about those characters dying.
When the Sad Dad subplot finishes, her dad dies. When the Jedi City plot finishes, the city is destroyed. Hell, when the Tropical Island Murder Sequence is done, the entire area is wiped out. Boom, done. No heroic last stand, no heroic sacrifice. The hand of god just says that the characters finished their journey and now its time for them to die.
This is the central problem with the movie - it makes it very boring - but it isn't the only one. There are, after all, interesting ideas introduced in Rogue One, but these ideas just sort of pitter out like the world's shittiest fireworks, or the floppy shrinking penis of a drunk 40 year old who hates his managerial position at Wal-mart.
I won't go in to all the little bitty details about how each thing fails. Just two. The first one is small, the second one is large and a big problem with the movie.
First scene, ready? Mr. Pilot Guy goes to Jen's Black Friend to give him a message, but Jen's Black Friend (Saul I think?) doesn't trust him. So he brings out a magic space squid who can tell if you're lying by molesting your brain with his tentacles. Oh, but the side effect is that you might lose your mind! Oh no! Will the heroes be able to communicate with the pilot who goes crazy after being tortured? Will he be cured by the force or something to reveal critical information that they need to save the day? Nah. The pilot is fine. Captain Spanish Accent reminds him that he's the pilot, and suddenly he's better. Aight. Sick.
That isn't the worst one, oh no. That's a small detail that is merely stupid. The worst interesting aspect that gets dropped? This idea that in order to do good, you sometimes need to be an evil murderous revolutionary who kills people because they're a risk to your cause.
I really like that idea, and its one worth exploring in depth. Revolutions are not pretty things, they are bloody and violent and you tend to see lots of civilian deaths. Showing how the Rebels were brutal and sometimes maybe crossed too much of a line could really help illustrate why, say, a new version of the Empire cropped up in Force Awakens. Maybe these people were bombed horribly by a Rebel Fleet, or there were a lot of terrorist attacks by the Rebellion that caused them to see the Empire as the protecting force and these Rebels as evil butchers. Just like, oh, I don't know, every Revolution in the history of the world.
But nope. The rebels do like. A handful of bad things, but that's about it. They attack military targets only, they kill Jen's dad pretty much by accident, and they fight in a city that we are told is already really shitty so who cares. The one Rebel who acts in the morally grey zone, Captain Spanish Accent, actually confronts Jen about this at some point, because she's like "waaa my dad died you are bad", and Captain Spanish goes "no but I'm also good" and that's that then.
That's the real shame for Rogue One. It had a chance to set up a more three dimensional universe for Star Wars in a way that didn't rely on the prequels or the original trilogy, and it just sort of went "nah." Instead you get yet another Disney action movie in the same vein as every Marvel, and soon every Star Wars movie you have ever seen. A factory line production with decent enough writing but a lack of depth or vision, all culminating in a big action sequence that distracts you from the movie's flaws.
Much like The Force Awakens, this movie was far from perfect, but unlike The Force Awakens, the characters weren't very fun at all, and because they never actually have to deal with conflict (since the act transitions resolve that all for them), you never get very attached to the slightly boring ones that you have.
Oh yeah. And Jen has a necklace on her, that her mom gives her. Her mom goes "always remember to trust in the force and here's this necklace, it will probably be a plot point later." It isn't. It's just a necklace. She dies still wearing it. Why? Why show me the necklace if she's never going to use it? They're crystals that were used to make lightsabers, you could have her fashion like. A shitty light saber and have her fight Darth Vader or something? Or have Kung Fu guy do it?
God. Fuck movies.