Why Doesn't "Rogue One" Feel Like a Star Wars Movie After All?
The movie feels — and remember, I'm compared it to other Star Wars movies — a little rushed. Rogue One has the air of training wheels for the series. "Why don't we introduce the kids to Star Wars? They'll buy all the merchandise and movies of past!" surely some Disney executive laughed away. Sorry, this is funnier when you imagine the person talking in a 1940's accent about "motion pictures," shaking cigar dust on the carpet.
The actors are giving it their best efforts. Something doesn't feel right. I'm trying to see what it is. A robot gets a funny short scene. No, the humor is still there. Does the plot need to be faster? What is it about this movie where I didn't love it and I thoroughly loved The Force Awakens, starring a new character Rey! She who doesn't need to date anyone in her storyline, the last major female film character fans ever see who could care less in her introductory plot! Han Solo! Did The Force Awakens have a bigger plot? Bigger CGI effects? Bigger brass sections in the music? I have no idea. I'm leaning towards all of it. OK. I think I know. Rogue One is too wound up and put out too fast. The movie feels like a stressed out person you meet who if they only breathed a little, they would be perfect. Had people spent six more months on Rogue One, possibly a year more, it might be The Force Awakens. And, not enough evil going on. Do people think we watch Star Wars for friendly chatter and mild disagreements? The kidnappings in Rogue One don't feel angry enough.
The other thing is, people forget at heart, the Star Wars films are children's movies. I want to say my brain remembers George Lucas saying something directly like that when I read old press clippings. Star Wars movies are fairy tales set in space about a hero overcoming all to save his princess. Monsters and cute friends await! Chewbacca is the BFF everyone wishes for. Death Vader is the ideal fantasy villain who doesn't have to spew blood everywhere in an R rating to be scary. He blows up a planet because he feels like it one day. I don't know why. He awoke over burned oatmeal and felt like it wasn't his day, week, month or even his year, like the Friends theme song. 😊 Everyone is somehow connected and you know they are at the beginning of the story.
All of these elements are so classic and vital to a good fairy tale. Rogue One skips over the fairy tale elements and the large amount of evil. We have here what Star Wars might look like if it were given a diet, low calorie, quickly made version.
Fun fact: I recall a film critic's negative review of another space movie when it debuted, Jupiter Ascending, said Michael Giacchino's score on that film sounded too much like impersonating Star Wars. The film flopped and he was, as we say, thrown shade. Rogue One's composer is Michael Giacchino. Possibly showing us how the worst criticism towards your work sometimes leads to an opportunity. Look now. The guy is scoring Star Wars, the biggest movie franchise in living history! No, I don't think it's a coincidence. Of course, his job here has to be "copy John Williams scores so we please the audience" and here's to hoping his next score lets him run wild creating new themes we hear in every Star Wars movie forever.
Of course, I'm going to end up using my iTunes gift credits on Rogue One. Likely. I mean, my long term goal is to direct movies within the Star Wars franchise once I've paid my dues with filmmaking. And, I secretly enjoy the worst of every science fiction's franchise chain because each "weak" film is often the best idea for last minute viewings. You reading this will probably want it on your iPad for a lazy day or airplane when nothing else is on TV and you're seeking nostalgia. Rogue One delivers that. But Rogue One feels like a good Lifetime made for TV movie if they made sci-fi beside high action adventure series that paved the way for the rest of Hollywood rip offs. Good. Not good enough to leave you wanting more the same night.