Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is lighting up the box office, and our Jason and Brandy have seen the film and want to debate it! Without further ado, let the spoilers commence...
The Rebel Alliance
JASON: One thing I liked about this film was its examination of the Rebel Alliance. In the Original Trilogy, the Alliance is personified by Princess Leia, who never seems scared of Vader ("Only you would be so bold..."). When we get to the Rebel base on Yavin IV, the officers and pilots planning the Death Star assault don't seem particularly determined or nervous or, well, anything.
We get more glimpses of Rebel leaders in Empire and Jedi, but they don't have much personality. In Rogue One we finally see the Rebels contemplate the long odds of victory. They're frightened, they're conflicted—they even discuss surrender!—but eventually summon the courage to become resolute. It changes the whole tenor of the Original Trilogy. What do you think, Brandy?
BRANDY: Compared to the fearless Princess Leia, the rebels seem kind of... well, cowardly. They come through in the end, but they spend most of the film being kind of dickish wussies operating under a lot of sleight-of-hand. It makes for a much more interesting story, but holy Hell do I miss Leia and her big Organas.
BRANDY: I'm all for fan service, when it's done right, but the cameos of R2D2 and C-3PO served zero purpose for me. They just kind of seemed shoehorned in there, and it kind of took me out of the film a bit. Vader looked a little too shiny and perfect to me- more like a Vader cosplayer than Darth himself. And you'd think that his suit before A New Hope would look less technologically advanced, not more. I was really hoping for more of a prototype suit from Vader.
The cameo I loved, though, was Leia. I had to go through the credits to ensure they didn't bring back 1970s era Carrie Fisher in a time machine and throw her in the film. The CG on her face was PERFECT. Do you agree, Jason?
JASON: Yeah, I feel like Artoo and Threepio were there to keep alive their streak of appearing in every Star Wars film. Otherwise, prequels almost have to do some fan service, because that's their very nature. So I liked seeing Walrus Man and his aggressive friend, Red Leader and Gold Leader, and Leia at the very end. I think Vader's suit was supposed to match his look in A New Hope, but it's possible that exact outfit wouldn't look good in high-def 3D IMAX.
JASON: Plot really drove this film, which caused some missed opportunities in terms of character. One is Saw Gerrera, who may have been the victim of reshoots. If he's supposed to be a radical, fanatical Rebel, why do we never see him fight? Why does he have the crazy mind-meld monster? How did his injuries come about? Some answers are found in Clone Wars, but what about casual fans who haven't seen it?
I'm also curious about K-2SO. He used to be an Imperial droid, and it would have been fun to see that personality pop up occasionally. He might remember things about the Empire, the way Finn did in The Force Awakens. How did he feel about joining the Rebellion? Why did he join? Does he consider Cassian a friend? Brandy, are there characters you'd like to learn more about?
BRANDY: I would LOVE a standalone Saw Gerrera film, or at least a novelization. I felt like the story gave us far too many questions about the characters and not enough answers. So much of what he said and did and was seemed to have no accompanying story to it—and for a franchise that has actual schematics for their fictional space vehicles, Saw felt like a glaring loose end.
As far as K-2SO, he is officially my favorite character in the franchise. Alan Tudyk OWNED that role and I'd watch a buddy cop movie with him and Cassian. I'd also like to know more about Galen Erso and how he ended up sucked into working for the Empire and what made him revolt—that said, I haven't read Catalyst, the novelization prequel to Rogue One, so maybe there's some answers in there.
JASON: Now that you mention it, I think a Cassian/K-2SO prequel could be as much fun as the upcoming Han/Chewie spin-off.
Okay, We Get It, It's About The Death Star
BRANDY: I never though I would get sick of seeing the Death Star, but I think it was overused in Rogue One. I know the film was literally about stealing the plans to the Death Star, but they really went out of their way to beauty shot this thing from all angles like it was Megan Fox in a Michael Bay movie. By about midway through the film, all the Death Star shots stopped holding weight and became almost pornographic. I know I'll get flak for complaining about too many shots of the Death Star in what is literally a movie about the Death Star, but c'mon. We get it. There's a Death Star. Chill. Jason, am I being a weirdo here?
JASON: I think you have a point. This is the third film with a Death Star, plus we just saw its big brother, Starkiller Base, in The Force Awakens. After a while, the battle station begins to feel less imposing and frightening and special. The only way this movie made up for it was the fear it seemed to instill in the Rebels; they were actually advocating surrender because they figured they had no chance against it.
The Lack of Jedis
JASON: One other element I liked was that the "good guys" had no Jedi among them. Chirrut Îmwe is a monk who believes in the Force, but can't throw people around the way Vader does at the end. No one has a lightsaber. No one has visions of what's to come or can sense danger. K-2SO isn't even particularly threatening. In this story, all the advantages are on the Imperial side. The Rebels have nothing but hope. And yet they still pull out a victory—though at great cost. Do you agree, Brandy?
BRANDY: Weren't the Jedi mostly wiped out by the time Rogue One happened? It would have made no sense for there to be Jedi in the film. I liked that this film deviated from the normal Star Wars film, in that it had far more action and less exposition. You're right, the stakes were higher in this film—though anyone who had seen the opening crawl from A New Hope knew things were going to end terribly. Which brings me to my final point...
Holy Shit, I Never Thought Disney Would Kill *EVERYBODY*
BRANDY: In the opening crawl of A New Hope, it said some rebels died to get those Death Star plans. But I was not prepared to see every single one of the good guys die. Not from a Star Wars film. Certainly not from a Star Wars film released by Disney. Rogue One had a more depressing ending than The Empire Strikes Back, and that was hard to do. I definitely expected some heartbreak, but, like, couldn't they have at least saved K-2SO?
Jason, am I being too much of a whiner here?
JASON: Some fans are saying it was a bold choice, and I have to agree. We know that these characters play no part in the major events of Episodes IV, V, and VI. The filmmakers wanted to show the real sacrifice the Rebel forces went through, instead of killing unnamed pilots like Red Leader. And there was no surprise "I am your father" or "She is your sister" looming. Add those factors together and you get the decision to shock the audience by giving noble deaths for all the main characters. At the end, I saw Cassian and Jyn, with the blast wave far in the distant, and thought they would be OK. But then the wave got closer. And they didn't run. And then they hugged. And then I realized the awful truth.