I am still in my re-watch in anticipation of the new Star Wars movie. Instead of sticking to Episodes I-VII, I decided to re-watch Rogue One before Episode IV. I saw it last December when it was in theaters and hadn’t thought about it much since. My opinion of it hasn’t changed.
The movie lands somewhere between OK and fine. That makes it much better than Force Awakens. There are some fun parts. It was great seeing Darth Vader cut through the rebels like they were nothing. The blind guy and his friend were entertaining. (Is it a problem that I just finished watching it and I don’t have the slightest idea what their characters were named?) But I want to talk about the movie’s biggest problem*. I feel like this has become a widespread problem and I wonder if I’m the only person who feels this way.
The problem I’m talking about is lazy writing. The number one example is when Cassian (That is his name, right?) is given the secret order to kill Jyn’s father. This is such an obvious ploy to ratchet up the tension. But it doesn’t make sense. It’s not a good strategic move for the rebels. Capturing him would be, but killing him is rather pointless. There is no personal connection between the general that gives the order and Jyn’s dad, so there’s no emotion behind it. All it does is create a fake moral conundrum for Cassian. Should he follow an unjust order? But even this isn’t allowed to play out. Just as Cassian decides to spare Jyn’s father’s life, her dad is killed by a rebel pilot. There are no consequences to Cassian’s decision. It’s just something that took up screen time.
The second biggest example of the lazy writing is all of the deaths. I saw this coming a mile away. As soon as Forrest Whitaker’s character (Was it Saw or Saul?) died for no reason, just because he would rather die than go with Jyn and continue the fight, I knew they were going to kill everyone. And none of the deaths were earned. The person successfully completed their task and then died. It was all very perfunctory. It was a way of ending the movie rather than a way of resolving the story lines and character arcs.
I don’t really mean to pick on Rogue One. I didn’t hate it. But, it seems like every other movie I see recently. The conflicts are forced in and the resolutions don’t resolve anything. They exist for two hours and then fade away. I would just love it if someone in Hollywood would hire a real writer sometime. Someone who understands plot and characterization. Then we could have a movie that sticks with us. That would be great.
* Surprisingly, the biggest problem isn’t the computer generated Tarken and Leia. But they are pretty awful. They are deep in the uncanny valley.