Rogue One: An Underwhelming Star Wars Story

 

So Rogue One is out, and despite the disappointing, unoriginal soft reboot that was TFA, I once again let myself be goaded into taking the 60 km trip to watch it, original English version, 3D.

Now I find myself having little to add to what RedletterMedia / Mister Plinkett already said about it,

https://youtu.be/Kc2kFk5M9x4

but what little there is, I’m gonna say (or rather, repeat what I already put in their comment section, since this is a bit more accessible, to whom it may concern.) (Minus the embarrassing bits.)

I agree with basically all of the above, except for one thing.

You can’t pretend there was no context when clearly there is.

I mean you can, but it is as pointless as judging, say, a boat by how badly it handles when you leave out the ballast. And that is the reason that in my view, the „story“ box Mike mentions is indeed ticked by Rogue One.

Arguably it might not have the best story it could have been. I did love the premise though. At the time I thought it was as close to „Play Dirty“, one of my all time favorites, as the Star Wars franchise could ever get.

Andor finishing off that scared, panicking informant instead of doing what is usually done in Disney etc flicks, something superhumanly heroic to save the both of them against all improbable odds. This was, in part, a film with some grim war reality. It put a little actual war into the Star Wars franchise. A little anti-war even. Do I detect the faintest whiff of cynicism?

Nah, must’ve been some nacho dip gone off. But another part of what made it good (or at least OK) was what made „Revenge of the Sith“ bad: You knew where it was going already when coming in. Only here, you didn’t quite know they were all doomed, you just heavily suspected it (if, unlike me, you didn’t misremember that line from „Return of the Jedi“ about the many dead Bothan spies to be from the original „Star Wars“.)

But then they had to go and spoil it all with a yet-another-space-battle. #YASB. Redundant, boring CGI fireworks distracting from what up to here could have been a great spy, cloak-and-dagger, saboteur story.

OK, maybe don’t cast quite such an icy cool English Rose as Felicity Jones for the heroine. Swap her for someone who can actually emote, Olivia Wilde, Sandy Bullock maybe. Juliette Lewis. Emma Stone! OK, too expensive these days, but how about Ellen Page? She has range, and size matters not! Sarah Michelle Gellar would have been outstanding (if older but so what?) Or if you insist on somebody less well known, how about Laurence Leboeuf, the female lead from the surprise hit „Turbo Kid“?

Then drop the space battle, tighten the story by a third of the running time, build up the characters more, let the actors do more and you might have something. Mads Mikkelsen felt completely underused.

This could also have worked great with an ensemble cast in the vein of the „Dirty Dozen“, which of course would have required also fleshing out the complete actual Rogue One team instead of just lumping them in there in the middle of the film.

„Agents Die Alone“ is the literal translation of the German title of „Where Eagles Dare“. „Rogue One“ should have been „Where Eagles Dare Meets Play Dirty In A Galaxy Far Far Away.“

Sadly, it wasn’t.

On a technical note, this time around, I thought the 3D was not only superfluous but its use by the director was downright annoying, like layering it even on top of the focus/out of focus contrast in the shot/reverse shot when young Jyn is talking to her mother in the beginning.

And that is a big part of why I probably won’t be back to the cinema in a very long time.

At least not before Deadpool 2 ;-)

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