Revisiting Rogue One a year and a half later

JediTricks

Jedi Council Member
Aug 14, 2001
38,234
66
43
Los Angeles, CA
www.geocities.com
#1
Rogue One is on Netflix, and with some free time for once, I decided it was finally time to revisit it now that 2 more Star Wars movies had come out.

This movie is far more than people give it credit for, and in the face of The Last Jedi and Solo, Rogue One is a shining example of what to do right. I'd say it's my 3rd-favorite Star Wars film after ANH and ESB.

Rogue One tells the story of the Star Wars universe's darkest hour, when the galaxy's hope has almost entirely evaporated and those left with hope have become critically desperate. It speaks to why people become rebels, why they stand up to the Empire, and why they lay down their lives for the greater good. It channels films like The Dirty Dozen, where survival is not guaranteed, and those tasked with taking on the worst missions are hardly the best and brightest, but they do it hoping for the best. They are outsiders, they're not the chosen ones, they're not the Jedi or the Skywalkers, these people aren't destined for greater things, and they shine in their own ways for that.

Things that RO does right which the other Disney Star Wars films could learn from:

- Original Music. The score by Michael Giacchino stands on its own feet every step of the way. When it calls back to classic Star Wars music, it does so in a manner that honors it and keeps it integrated and brief, it empowers the scenes without weighing them down. There are new themes which feel appropriate and noteworthy here, they're not as polished as ANH and ESB themes, yet that makes sense since these characters aren't Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan. Solo could have learned a lot from this

- Cinematography. This film is dark, not unlike Solo, yet is impressively shot so that, no matter how dark, the audiences can clearly understand with their eyes what they are seeing. The film uses light and color sparingly, but it ensures to light everything essentially in a manner that conveys what needs stating. Solo misfires on this so badly, it's visually muddy and dark and, even when projected correctly (*cough*), the audience has to strain to take in all the visual information in its "rich" darkness.

- Original Characters. Diego Luna as Cassian Andor carries self-loathing on his face right up until the Scarif mission, he's not merely wearing the template of an existing Star Wars character, and he's not particularly nice. Jyn, once we get to know where she's coming from, is more than the product of her upbringing, she actually stands up to bureaucracy threatening to give in to fear. K-2SO is charming, hilarious, dangerous, and imposing. Chirrut, Baze, Saw, Bodhi, Krennic, Raddis, even the rebel pilots feel very appropriate to the setting and unique without seeming out of place.

- Stakes and Scope. The stakes are very personal to Jyn, yet others recognize how vital the rest of the stakes are more than just hers. Cassian even chooses to break with his orders to spare Galen during the sniping. The rebel alliance aren't of one mind and they are afraid, they aren't singular, and when they are finally confronted with action they strike as hard as they can, it's an impressive battle with everything used in the right volume.

- New Settings. Every new planet looks great, unique, and distinct. There's a lot of them, this story hops a lot, yet each one feels very whole and very organic.

- Relationships. Jyn and Cassian start off even footing and when they gain that footing and better understandings, they grow to become trusted allies and friends. Cassian and K-2, Jyn and K-2, Bodhi and the rebels, Bodhi and Saw, Saw and the galaxy, Tarkin and Krennic, Chirrut and Baze, Chirrut and Jyn, Jyn and Krennic, Krennic and his aspirations, all of these work really well and each could have enjoyed more time without dragging the film down. And each relationship ends up meaning something at the end of it all, each one affects the outcome in unique ways.

- Use of Technologies. Before The Last Jedi stumbled into using hyperspace as a ship-to-fleet weapon, Rogue One showed ships jumping to hyperspace without becoming overpowered, as Vader's Star Destroyer jumps in as capital ships jump out, one even gets splashed against it, but it doesn't take out the whole thing. The new ships feel appropriate to the existing mythos yet speak for themselves. New droids, new tech, it fits where it needs to go, it adds to the storytelling rather than distracts from it.

- Dialogue. It's not always sharp, but it never feels out of place (except for Vader's "choke on your aspirations" pun, which is a biiiiit much given that he's Force-choking at the time, had he just said it without the choke it might have been more interesting), it always feels grounded in that universe. Despite some accents from a few characters, dialogue is clear and gets the message across, it keeps you in the film rather than drags you out - *cough* The Last Jedi *cough*.

- Restraint. Cassian and Jyn don't fall in love, their last shot is hugging, not kissing; Cassian doesn't spare Galen because he's in love with Jyn. There could have been so many more classic Star Wars references crammed in there and mercifully weren't - *cough* SOLO *cough* - so that this universe could grow organically. And the references that are there feel appropriate and balanced, used in new ways without feeling distracting. Just like the classic Star Wars films, it doesn't tell us everything, it doesn't spell everything out, it hints at greater things.


Small things I noticed this time:

- Little Jyn is wearing a playtime Imperial Officer costume at the beginning of the film.

- Ponda Baba's head is GIGANTIC compared to A New Hope, it looked like a sports mascot it was so big.

- Guy Henry does a great job as Tarkin, but he's considerably taller in the role than Peter Cushing was.

- Even when using existing ANH footage for the pilots, it appears some care was given to change the look of the lenses and grain to match this film. It's a little thing but it meant a lot. And when recreating ANH shots in the Death Star or Yavin 4, this film took time to shoot them in a more modern way that fit its style.

- "Rogue One" is the title card for the film, no "A Star Wars Story", and it's better for it.


Things RO could have done better:

- Given the audience a better idea of backgrounds with Krennic, Cassian, and especially Jyn's time between childhood and prison. Krennic rising in the ranks of the Imperial Security Bureau would have given the ISB more background, those slimy sneaks that even the regular Imperials can't truly stand. Speaking of slimy sneaks, understanding more of Cassian as a spy who is capable and acting with urgency, and feels the grip of the Empire tightening around his throat, causing him to take greater chances and cut off any source who puts his mission in danger would have been ideal. Jyn's background as a young rebel under Saw gives her the skills and the passion, getting cut off by a second father figure and feeling abandoned only to end up captured in a backward Imperial prison should have come earlier in the film and been given more weight, it would have informed the audience better of our main character. Understanding the ISB's role on Scarif would have made its destruction more valuable. Some things were held back wisely, but a little more for these elements would have helped.

- The convenience of Galen Erso, his value to the project, his role in the Empire, his life and even his death, all feel a little heavy-handed to this story and to A New Hope. And then for him to balk at the threat of losing his engineering team and admit to his treachery felt manipulative.

- Been content with the dangers it first presents. There are a few scenes where we have a character in the middle of danger have to take one more step - more than once, we have Jyn jump a chasm and slip before proceeding - that slow the film down for no real benefit. The character is already doing what they have to do, already facing main stakes, drama doesn't always need to be ramped up with cheap extra dramatic beats that try to "thrill", it just makes the characters seem superheroic instead.

- CGI characters. Tarkin is a well-played character, but I must admit that every close-up felt stuck in uncanny valley; Leia's singular shot is even worse, she is downright distracting when she talks because it looks so off. Tarkin at least has some medium shots that pass muster, the film uses them almost exclusively in the second half and is better for it.


Overall, I think Rogue One holds up pretty well despite its rocky production challenges, and other Star Wars story movies could learn a lot from the finished product. Even when not perfect, it still knows what it's doing and goes to lengths to achieve that.
 
Likes: Maradona
Apr 28, 2013
1,215
6
#2
I, too, watched RO again after a significant break. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Noticed little things in the background and mannerisms. It's a better movie than it's given credit for.