It’s my policy to only share things positive here, or hopeful, or helpful, maybe beautiful, or all of the above. But with all of my social media currently being flooded by people insisting everyone “GO SEE ROGUE ONE NOW!" I feel I should issue a warning to people like me.
If you’re like me, then this season is a little (or a lot) stressful, a little (or a lot) sad, and if you’re able to carve out a few hours to go to the movies, you want that time to be rewarded. You want to get out from under the weight of presents and parties and obligations, and leave the theater feeling better than before you went in.
I freely admit I went into Rogue One in a bad place emotionally. I was stressed and sad and feeling guilty and desperately in need of a lift. Thanks to an exceedingly polite internet community, I had no spoilers, no warning, no idea of what was coming. I wish I had. I wish someone had written the review I’m about to write, for me.
I won’t spoil anything for you, either, because that’s not polite. But again, if you’re like me, then maybe wait to see Rogue One. Or at least read this review first, so you’re more prepared than I was.
Let’s start with The Good:
- It’s Star Wars, down to the bones. It has the familiarity and nostalgia of the original films, without feeling like a copycat the way Force Awakens sometimes did. This is new. New characters, ships, creatures – but all with that unmistakable Star Wars feel.
- Everyone’s talking about the Easter Eggs, and while I’m sure I only caught the most obvious ones, they’re still a delight. Nothing too overt or campy, just sweet little nods to the other films sprinkled throughout.
- The story works. I love that this fills in a gap in Star Wars knowledge, and perfectly explains how the Death Star came to have such a glaring weakness.
- And finally, THIS is how you write a female lead. No one so much as mentions that Jyn is a girl, much less treats her any differently because of it. She dresses like a fighter, not a sexy fighter, and there is ZERO simpering or batting of eyelashes or dewy-eyed melt-downs.
- Much as I admired Jyn, I didn’t care about her. Not the way I did Rey and Finn. Jyn’s too flat, too one-dimensional. Even her back story fails to flesh her out into a real person. She’s a hero, but so closed off and hardened that it’s impossible to feel like you know her, much less relate to her.
- That goes for all the characters, really; even my favorite, the monk, is lost in a sea of too many people with too little dimension. I’m still not sure why Forest Whitaker in his Mad Max suit was even there.
- It’s heavy. The only laughs are provided by Alan Tudyk’s wise-cracking robot, and are so infrequent that our audience almost didn’t know what to do with them: like, "oh, is it ok to laugh now?" There are no happy, joy-filled moments, just action and intrigue and epic battle scenes, all soaked in the darkness of a hopeless war.
- It’s more violent by far than TFA, which I understand now is/was necessary for the story, to lead up to A New Hope. Rogue One puts the WAR in Star Wars, with gut-wrenching battles raining death and destruction, often placed in settings that feel uncomfortably down-to-earth. I don’t think it’s a spoiler, given this is a prequel to A New Hope, to say the bad guys win most of the time.
- The end scene with Vader is getting all the rave reviews, but I'll be honest, it turned my stomach. After nearly two hours of heaviness, this final scene was too much. Again, I see why they did it, and I can appreciate having this incredible back story leading up to the very second New Hope begins, but it’s not something I enjoyed watching.
I didn’t cry - and I'm the one who cries at everything! No, it's not that Rogue One is unbearably sad. Ironically, it's that it feels more hopeless than sad. And that's the last thing I want to feel this season.
So there you have it, guys: my exceedingly unpopular take on Rogue One. Take it with a huge grain of salt, of course, and feel free to call me too sensitive, because I know I am. But if this helps even one or two fellow “sensitives” avoid feeling this way at the movies this season, then hey, worth it.