WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
While it isn’t a book, I am such a Star Wars Geek, I had to put this review up here. You see, I took my spousal unit to Star Wars: Rogue one on Thursday and wow, yeah, I saw that.
First and foremost, I have a bug in my bonnet that they changed the iconic music. That bump ba ba buda bup bah, buda buda bah buda bah. Yup, that John Williams score that was one of the pieces of the soundtrack of our childhoods was altered and I don’t know why.
Then, that scrolling prologue – gone too.
Also gone, the most important piece to all Star Wars Movies. Even Episode One. Hope. This is one of the most depressing sci-fantasy movies I have ever seen. Remember in Episode 4 – A New Hope (formerly known as just Star Wars) when Mon Mothma says that the plans to the Death Star were captured at the cost of many lives. Most of the characters are those lives. Everyone or nearly everyone DIES! And the Heroine doesn’t even get a kiss before she is obliterated.
Oh it was nice to see a recreation of Peter Cushing as Grand Mof Tarkin. The overlay CG face almost works. Except the eyes just don’t track, particularly the right one, much to our irritation. The voice is close, but when the director cuts an actual line from Ep. 4 in Cushing’s actual voice, the difference is very obvious.
Forrest Whitaker appears as the Rebellion’s very own Darth Vader. What do I mean by that? His character has about as much compassion and human body parts as Vader. He has like one human arm and a head. And that head, too, is a CG overlay that just doesn’t track right.
Speaking of Darth Vader, for some unknown reason, the director or the writer or both in an act of complicit stupidity, completely undo the ominous aura of Vader by introducing him in his healing chamber as Anakin with no arms, legs and burned beyond belief. This takes away the evil of the dude because you have pity on him. He’s supposed to be scary, we are supposed to be impressed by his lack of humanity, not that he is a human in great pain in a suit that keeps him alive and as sane as he is through constant pain killers. Speaking of the suit. The breastplate isn’t right. There aren’t enough buttons and it is hanging on a necklace. We still here the amazing James Earl Jones voice, thank goodness and Vader does do the Force Choke. But his Imperial March? Yup, they changed that too! Someone needs to shoot the composer and the director for not loving that music, the music that made Star Wars what it was. Again, NO REASON to change the music at all.
The Rebellion Fleet? All destroyed except for Leia’s ship, which takes off with the plans for the Death Star and the secret to destroying it. The flaw in the ship? Not because the Empire is flawed, but because the scientist who created it, Jen’s (the heroine) Daddy put it there. Once again, taking away a part of the Ep 4 Story, where the all-mighty Empire has issues.
Kyber Crystals, for those in the know, those nifty things that power light sabers turn out to be what powers the Death Star. The Empire is mining them from Jedah, the home of one of the Jedi Temples – one of the MAIN temples. Which they blow up with the Death Star. Which totally blows the scene in Ep. 4 where Princess Leia is on the bridge with Tarkin and Vader, and Tarkin informs her that they need to test the Death Star, blowing up Alderan. Why test what you have already used (and they use it twice)?
There is a droid who is the hero – K2 something or other (I’m blocking out the movie the best I can) – he was an Imperial droid that the Rebellion reprogrammed. He has no filter, and whatever is in his circuits comes out of his voice box. In the end, he saves the day. Kind of. Because every Rebel on Jedah, every one of them including really cool Temple Guardians, dies when the Death Star zaps the planet. There is a perfect scene, a gorgeous moment when Jen (the heroine) and Capt. Cassian (the reformed hero) are sitting watching the mushroom cloud of death coming toward them. They clasp hands and look into each other’s eyes with passion and desire and… Just sit there. No kiss, no caress, not even an “I love you” halted by their obliteration.
This felt like a very depressing heist movie that they just rewrote and slapped on the Star Wars title. If it were just a space heist movie, I’d give it an 8. But this was Star Wars. The movies that changed the world, the way movies are made, even the way people see religion. The series of movies that included moments we needed in Ep 2 (where the Clones appear and save the day like the USMC) and Ep 3 where the Emperor gives W’s speech about us and them nearly word for word. So, this movie gets a 5. It is at best mediocre for a Star Wars flick if not totally destructive to Ep 4’s point.