Rogue One, or, the Disneyfication of Star Wars is Complete (and This is a Good Thing)

(NOTE: This review of Rogue One is spoiler-free but I will be allowing the conversation in the comment thread to contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, you might want to skip the comments for now.)

As I walked out of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last night, the male half of a couple behind me turned to his partner and said “Disney, not fucking it up again.”

This tells you a few things:

One, that even in the wilds of Piqua, Ohio, people are aware that Star Wars is a Disney property now. Perhaps this is not as inside pool as it might have been, given how much and how enthusiastically Disney has been plastering Star Wars all over its branding and theme parks, but it’s still notable that it was basically the first thing to come out of the mouth of some midwestern dude and not, say, a wannabe screenwriter in Burbank;

Two, that there is an awareness that at least on the movie front, the Star Wars brand was in deep trouble after the prequel trilogy and needed substantial revitalization;

Three, there’s an awareness that Disney did in fact manage that revitalization, not just once, but twice now — and thus “Disney, not fucking it up again” (emphasis mine).

And this random dude in Piqua, Ohio was absolutely correct: Disney yet again did not fuck up Star Wars. In fact, for two films running the folks at Disney have produced two really top-notch Star Wars films, a feat that has not been managed in thirty-five years — or possibly ever, depending on whether you believe the original Star Wars, as epochal as it undeniably was, is actually good, which given its pastiche-heavy, merely-serviceable plot and script, and leaden acting and direction, is debatable. The Disneyfication of the Star Wars universe is now complete, and this is a good thing. As I’ve noted before, Disney, for all its sins, consistently drives to entertain, and drives to entertain intelligently, meaning that it doesn’t see its audience as a mark but as a partner. Disney gives us thrills and fun, and we give them money, and wait for the cycle to repeat, as it does, consistently.

Yes, fine, Scalzi, but how is the film itself? Well, Rogue One is different from the other Star Wars films, consistently darker and more adult than any since Empire and really the first where I, at least, didn’t feel like the potential additions to the merchandising lines were a key driver of story (hello, BB-8, adorable as you are). This might seem ironic, given that this is Disney, and that Disney is unashamed of maximizing ancillary profit centers. But two things here. One, it’s not like there aren’t tons of toys coming out of this anyway (the film’s time setting also allows a canny refreshing of lots of old school Star Wars merchandise, including everything Darth Vader and Death Star), and two, Disney’s playing a longer game here. This is the first Star Wars film off the main “Skywalker” thread, and Disney wants to establish a slightly different tone and feel. After 40 years of Star Wars, it’s okay to recognize that grown-ups are part of the Star Wars audience and they might want to have a film catering to them first, or at least nodding in their direction.

As it happens, the way I would explain Rogue One is to compare it to another series of Disney films, from another franchise engine that the corporation absorbed: Rogue One feels a bit like a Captain America movie. The Captain America films (specifically the last two, The Winter Soldier and Civil War) are part of the Marvel universe, which is bright and shiny and quippy and has people in ridiculous costumes doing fundamentally goofy things with superpowers, and within that setting the Captain America films also manage to address actual, relevant issues like whether or not there should be limits to power, and whether countries are owed allegiance if they abandon their principles. And (thanks in large part to the Russo brothers) they’re paced like superior political thrillers. Now, we can talk about what it means that here in the second decade of the 21st century that in order to get a successful political thriller in the film format we have to stuff it into a story about supermen in spandex, but let’s do that later. For now, my point is: Within the pretty, colorful and essentially adolescent universe of Marvel, here’s a branch playing a little more grown up.

Likewise, Rogue One. It’s not about young people growing up, like essentially all the Skywalker films are, with Luke and Anakin and Padme and Rey and Finn all either coming into their own power or falling out of it. All the primary characters in Rogue One are all already grown up and morally compromised in one way or another. The rebellion is not the simple and clean moral engine for good it was portrayed as before; there’s lots of gray around its edges and in its practices, and its sole moral advantage is that the Empire truly is just plain fascistic evil.

Also, interestingly and I think importantly, this is the first Star Wars film where the Force does not play a key role in the action — until Vader shows up and starts Force-choking people because he’s an asshole, it’s mostly there as historical background; when people say “May the Force be with you” here, 95% of the time it’s like saying “good luck” (There are two other characters with some history of the Force, and one of them at least may benefit from it directly — or he may just have really excellent senses other than sight. It’s ambiguous). It’s the first Star Wars film, basically, that really is more science fiction than space fantasy, and that’s interesting in of itself.

Rather than the characters growing up, these characters are more engaged in questions of redemption — that is to say, whether the choices that they’ve made in the service to the rebellion (or the choices they made to avoid it) mean something or can be made to mean something. There would be spoilers to answer those questions here so I won’t, but I can say that another reason Rogue One works is that by and large it follows those questions to their logical ends, not the ones that might make the characters (or us) happiest.

It’s still a Star Wars film, mind you (which is not a bad thing): There are lots of aliens and lasers and explosions and X-Wings and droids and silly bits of pseudo-science that it’s best not to think about too long. There’s also a great deal of fan service, from blue milk to cameos by characters who in the Star Wars universe are long gone, and in at least a couple of cases, from actors long dead (the latter of these, actually, represents my only real technical criticism of the film — the film CGIs up a character from the original film which falls dead square into the shadows of the uncanny valley. Sorry, ILM, you still haven’t nailed skin lighting and textures perfectly). It also — finally and logically, but again don’t look too closely — addresses a womp rat-sized plot hole in the Star Wars universe I was glad to have dealt with. I don’t think this is the best film to introduce a kid to Star Wars with — the PG-13 rating is well advised — but you’ll get your Star Wars out of this Star Wars film, with all the many positive and few negatives that come with that territory.

The script (Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy from a story by John Knoll and my Twitter pal Gary Whitta) is good and mostly efficient; it’s not funny and light in the way the script in The Force Awakens was (most of the funny lines go to the droid K-2SO, performed by Alan Tudyk, who plays him as a spiritual cousin to Marvin the Robot), but then this is not a light and funny story, so that’s fine. The actors are excellent playing compromised people in an imperfect galaxy, and Gareth Edwards’ direction — largely dispassionate and at a bit of a remove — works generally very well (although not perfectly in some emotionally intimate moments). I had recently assumed that once John Williams was done scoring Star Wars films that Michael Giacchino would take his place, so him doing the music here is not a surprise and is largely credible, if not hugely memorable (I would emphasize yet here; to be fair he’s stepping into huge musical shoes here (and thankfully Williams is not yet done with the scoring of the mainline films)). With the exception of that one CGI blip noted above, everything visually looks fantastic and lived in: This is a galaxy that is not neat and clean and utopically shiny.

Rogue One is the smartest Star Wars film, I would say — not only in itself, but in how it functions within the Star Wars universe, and (to come back around to the top paragraphs) in how Disney is administering the Star Wars universe for its fans. After The Force Awakens, it was still possible to say that film, machine-tooled as it was to hit the Star Wars geeks soft spots, might have been a fluke, a one-off bright spot with everything firing on all cylinders because everyone wanted it to work. Rogue One, different in tone and execution but still undeniably a Star Wars film, shows it’s not a fluke. Disney is on its game when it comes to Star Wars. They didn’t fuck it up, twice in a row now. It’s reasonable at this point to work on the theory they’ll continue to not fuck it up. Rogue One earns them that credit, and trust.

157 Comments on “Rogue One, or, the Disneyfication of Star Wars is Complete (and This is a Good Thing)”


    I am allowing the comments here to have spoilers. If you do not wish to have the film possibly spoiled for you, skip the comments until you’ve seen the film.

    That said, commenters, don’t feel obliged to spoil the film. Just talk about it as you normally would.

  2. I agree that the CGI character wasn’t quite there, but I honestly wonder if I would’ve felt that way if I hadn’t known, from external sources, that he was a CGI character.

    What was a bit more jarring to me was the straight-up reuse of some footage from the original New Hope.

    Still, I liked it a lot.

  3. Can you here clarify what “womp rat-sized plot hole in the Star Wars universe” you mean? I presume you don’t just mean “how they got the Death Star plans,” as that seems like more of just an untold story than a plot hole, and I suspect it’ll seem obvious once (if?) you say, but it’s not obvious to me yet.

  4. I assumed the plot hole in question was, why was there such a terrible flaw in the design of the Death Star to begin with?

  5. As often is the case, I agree with all your main points. Very enjoyable, not screwed up.

    I have to say I really like all the bits strewn in for the hard-core fans, Blue Milk, and other stuff like that.

    And you’re so right; the droid really IS a cousin to Marvin, but I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll have to watch it again and think along those lines.

    I actually think that the CGI reconstruct of GMT was not bad. I think the one for LO not such much. It was such a short bit; I think it would have been far more powerful if you didn’t see her whole face.

  6. @Joe H. As I understand it, they didn’t reuse footage from “New Hope” but they found footage shot at the time that was not used in the movie, so they did a happy dance and yoinked it.

    I’m glad that Disney recognizes what Star Wars movies are all about: ships. Ships taking off. Ships sailing through space. Ships landing. There may not be time for character development, plot smoothing, or even letting someone finish saying something at the end of a scene before the music swells and overpowers the dialogue, but by God anytime anyone goes anywhere we will see them board, launch, fly, land, and disembark from their ships every single time whether we need to or not.

    (Note: I understand the need for setting a scene and I really liked “Rogue One,” where the ship fetish wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as it was in the prequels.)

  7. I will say, two of the people we saw the movie with didn’t realize that Tarkin was CGI. I think that it’s only obvious if you’re looking for it. I still would have had him communicate with Krennic mostly through holograms (and maybe have a reveal “in person” nearer the end), but I think the effect played well for most of the audience.

  8. Tarkin’s CGI seemed obvious to me, if well-done, but one of the people with me last weekend didn’t know till we talked afterward. Leia just looked like a video game cut scene and would have been better served if we had only seen her hands, hair and maybe a reflection in the port window.

  9. The CGI versions of Tarkin and Leia are especially disappointing since ILM created the modern special effects industry.

    Why not use Wayne Pygram or James Marsters as Tarkin, and Millie Bobby Brown from Stranger Things, or Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, as Leia?

  10. The mix of reactions to Tarkin has been interesting to me; he kicked me out of the movie every time I saw him, but my wife had to lean over and ask me at about the 3/4 mark of the movie whether he was a lookalike or not. Leia didn’t bug me as much because she was only on screen for four seconds; I think recasting here would have been MORE distracting than what they did. In talking to my friends, this seems to be a blue dress/gold dress thing; you either notice the effect immediately and it makes you nuts or you don’t.

  11. Having seen it twice now the uncanny valley feels even worse the second time. This movie while absolutely excellent (seriously it may be my favorite Star Wars film to date and best of 2016) will definitely not age well at all because of those CG humans.

    I really wish they kept both entirely in shadow/hologram/reflection.

  12. If the CGI character you mean was the first one, I found him far more satisfying than most. (Certainly a great deal better than his appearance in Episode… 3 was it?) The one at the end, though, was right on the edge for me.

    Aside that, I’m pretty much in agreement.

  13. I assume he means the “Oh, this moon-sized battlestation has a reactor core with the stability of a cardboard box”

  14. Thumbs up. It’s everything the disastrous prequels weren’t: good writing, good acting, coherent story (and a welcome fix to that Yuuuge plot hole), and nearly perfect technical effects. A couple of oddly placed cameos, but mostly the hommages to the original trilogy were nicely understated and not painfully gratuitous. It stands alone well AND does not break the cycle.

  15. @CABridges — Thanks! I guess I was wondering if that might’ve been an alternate take or something; I’ll have to wait until Rogue One comes out on disc to do a side-by-side comparison.

  16. The only hokey thing I saw was how Star destroyers came out of hyperspace they just seemed to appear kind of goofy

  17. Tarkin jumped out at me immediately; seeing his reflection I knew they had done CGI, and I was hoping for a subtle reflection/holo performance, and what I got was not that. Leia… again, it’s the skin tone and texture that does it in. That uncanny valley is *murder*.

    As to the rest of the movie, I liked it a lot. The weakest point plot-wise is that I could not for the life of me understand how Jyn made the transition from indifference to rebel-rouser. I know the point in the plot where it was supposed to happen, but the movie just didn’t sell me on it. It would have worked fine, I think, if they’d had a glue scene where she realizes that she can *use* the Rebellion to redeem her father, but they either didn’t shoot that or it got left on the cutting room floor.

  18. I think he means the stupid flaw with the “thermal exhaust port” they used to bring it down in A New Hope. Now we know it was a *deliberate* design flaw, and it makes more sense. As far as Grand Moff Tarkin, my wife had no clue that Peter Cushing was already dead until I told her after the movie that his whole part was CGI. I knew, and was watching those scenes carefully, but I still think they did an admirable job. I wish, though, he had a bit less screen time so it wouldn’t have been so obvious to those of us looking for flaws.

  19. I really did like the movie… Unfortunately my viewing of it was kinda ruined by being in the middle of a truly awful audience. Parents who had, for some reason, thought the film was suitable to bring their small children to. Who were uninterested in the film themselves, and constantly checking their mobile phones. A group of ageing baby-boomers who talked through the entire movie about if so-and-so was from the original Star Wars, and even talked through the big ending!

  20. I did not know in advance that the CGI character was a completely CGI character, I thought it was an actor, and I was quite impressed. I knew the character was going to be in the movie from some early light spoilers, but I assumed just a cameo, instead of the rather large part they played.

    I also assume the plot hole was the major flaw referenced above. I enjoyed it immensely, and can’t wait to see it again.

  21. I’ll open by saying that I did enjoy it and I recommend that people see it, but I feel the movie does have quite a few weaknesses.

    The CGI character(s) already noted is a big one. The second one (to be spoiler free) isn’t so bad, because the appearance is so brief, but Tarkin was in it way to much for the current state of the technology. I think they’d have been better off keeping with the back of his head and the reflection as they did a couple of times and then reducing his screen time.

    More fundamentally, though, you could have left off the first half of the movie and had the same enjoyment. So much set up for events in movies that we’ve already seen. Why? No one is ever going to watch this before Episode 4. And there was almost no character growth. (The actors all did well. I point to the script.) The character who grew the most was actually the droid (who was very good).

    Again, still recommend. That last act had it all. Action, emotion. I wish there had been more to the rest of the movie.

  22. The one CGI character wasn’t great, enough that I noticed, but it didn’t kill it for me as much as for other people I’ve heard talk about it. The other CGI character at the end (who I think was an actress touched up with CGI) was way better.

    Also, I didn’t think the Force was that ambiguous when it came to Chirrut. Too be fair, I am 100% fine with explaining unlikely Star Wars things with “The Force nudged them in the right direction,” so maybe I’m just more likely to interpret things as the Force. That doesn’t cheapen anything for me.

    Also, there’s been a lot of talk about potentially gay characters. I’m super conflicted. I’d love for Star Wars to have mainstream gay characters, but I’m also kind of sad that dudes can’t just be close friends featuring emotions? I guess either way it’s a good outcome.

  23. I went in as spoiler-free as possible, and I did not know GMT was coming as CGI. I spent a lot of the movie trying to figure out if it was completely CGI, or a really uncanny actor with good makeup, but also just trying to enjoy and listen. On second viewing it was more noticeable, but it’s still really amazing, and that characters role was essential to the plot, so job well done.

  24. Mr. Scalzi,
    Long may you write. I continue to enjoy not only your fiction, but the non-fiction as well. I would just interject that the Darth Vader scenes, first in the “healing bath chamber” reminds us where we last saw him, lying in volcanic ash, quadriplegic, abandoned by his mentor and humanity in general. His ruthlessness as a cyborg light saber wielder is all the more disturbing, yet understandable.

  25. Honestly, this movie could have been 90 minutes of Jar Jar Binks and they still would saved the whole thing for the last 10 minutes. Nice to see EXACTLY why everybody was afraid of Darth Vader.

  26. So don’t read this if you haven’t seen it but I really wanted some of the people to survive this movie and no one did.

    Maybe it’s just me but I don’t go to Star Wars for suicide missions.

    I know there was no way for any of these characters to live but part of me really wanted them to make it out and then for Disney to release like respecialized editions where you find out the rogue one characters are always just to the left of the frame. Leia hands out medals and you just didn’t see her handing out a medal to the blind guy.

  27. I thought CGI Peter Cushing was pretty obviously CGI, as was CGI Carrie Fisher, but given the current state of the art I thought it was a credible effort. They’ll work it out eventually. This is just a necessary step in the process.

  28. Another thought about the CGI characters: I agree that it’s very likely that the effect will age poorly, and this makes me wonder if Disney will have the same inclination to revise the effects with each reissue that Lucas had.

  29. The womp-rat-sized plot hole is why the DS had such a single-point-of-failure defect in the first place: because Galen Erso sabotaged the design. Still a plot hole as to why it wasn’t detected during design reviews, but a much more manageable one.

  30. Another minor Easter egg that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned — now we know why Blue Squadron wasn’t around for the attack on the Death Star.

    (In the original 1977 novelization, Luke was part of Blue Squadron, not Red.)

  31. Me, I would guess the overheard quote you started the post with had as much to do with Disney’s acquisition and handling of the MCU and Pixar as it did with Star Wars VII.

  32. Interesting take, and I think that I agree that Disney managed not to screw up this one. I’m in the minority in that I very strongly did not like TFA (except for Rey), so I set really low expectations for myself going in to see R1. I also made it a point of reading any and all spoilers and behind the scenes information I could get my hands on over the last year. I went in expecting something akin to a western like Magnificent 7 not a feel-good A New Hope, and pretty much got what I expected.

    As much as I loved each and every shout out to the original trilogy and was overjoyed at the easter eggs for Star Wars: Rebels (my favorite of the new Star Wars offerings), I was still bummed at the ending. If I could change anything, that’s what I’d change. I saw it coming, but I wished I was wrong. I realize that changing it would change the gravity of the story, but I like happy endings. Just my own taste, and certainly not the way audiences today like their stories.

    I agree that the GMT CGI was a bit much. It stuck out as fake to me every time he was on screen. The reflections in the glass, or some holographic images and more sparing full face shots might have been a better use of this new technology. LO was just a tad bit better because she was used only briefly. These two instances are probably the only special effects I’d change, but it was an interesting attempt, so I can forgive it for being a technology that’s just not quite there yet.

  33. Also of note… A lot of the ‘new’ X-Wing pilot footage including women pilots is made up of footage cut from the original Star Wars.

  34. My wife was a little disappointed. She said the movie felt very much like ‘fan faction,’ and she strongly felt that Jyn was very much a ‘Mary Sue’ character

  35. I missed that GMT was completely CGI. I thought the LO cameo at the end was a bit off, but generally a nice nod to A New Hope.

    The thing that really threw me was using James Earl Jones’ voice for Vader. It mostly worked, but at times the tone was just enough off from the content that it was distracting.

  36. I was fine with the cgi Tarkin & Leia; my major complaint was the score. Specifically, the main theme was jarring to me; maybe it was to cheerful? Or too generic? Too close to the original, or not close enough? I’m going to see it again, I’ll try to figure out what it was that I didn’t like about it. I just know that it took me out of the moment, every time it played.

    Otherwise, though, it’s a great flick in general and a great Star Wars flick in particular.

  37. My wife was kind of disappointed. She said the whole thing had a distinct feel of Star Wars fan fiction (she was heavily involved in the early days of Star Wars fan fiction, so I trust her on this), and that Jyn was very much a ‘Mary Sue’ character.

  38. “(Certainly a great deal better than his appearance in Episode… 3 was it?)”

    He was ONLY in the original “Star Wars” (ep IV). Remember, he was on the (first) Death Star when it was destroyed. Thus his line in that movie “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.”. That plot bit may have been at Cushing’s insistence; he may have been willing to act in ONE movie, but wasn’t interested in more. I don’t know that; that’s a guess.

    And the Emperor isn’t shown or really talked about much in that movie. GMT is the evil overlord, Vader is the muscle. It’s ‘Empire where the Emperor becomes an important character.

  39. The cgi Tarkin was good enough for me, and presumably when R1 emerges from the Disney vault in the future then it’ll be touched up if needed. Disney does update their movies, just not as obviously as George did. As for the imagined exhaust port weakness, god but that is such a one-liner stand-up comedian piece. It was never a weakness in the first place, but whatever, enough stand up comedians have done a bit on the piece and enough snide nerds have pontificated on it, personally I liked the Death Star Engineer skit’s “explanation“, but whatever. If it gets the power nerds to shut up about it.

    I’ll agree with the random dude, Disney managed to not fuck it up. Would have been nice if they’d confirmed Jar-Jar was on Alderaan though. The only real complaint I have is that they couldn’t quite break Gareth Edwards habit of cutting away from the action I wanted to see to show people reacting to the action I wanted to see. He’s improved since he fucked up Godzilla, or maybe it was those reshoots. I would go to see another Star Wars movie directed by him, but I wouldn’t go see another regular movie directed by him.

    I think the ending was utterly fitting though, but at the same time very brave. Bold move Disney. It almost leads me to think there could be…A New Hope. sorry

  40. (oops) Didn’t mean to post that twice. Computer glitch. Feel free to delete one or the other.

  41. I guess I’m in a minority in that I didn’t really like this movie. None of the characters appealed to me. I wasn’t convinced by their motivations, their development arcs seemed wooden and forced to me, and I thought the actors had no chemistry together at all.

    When they couldn’t convince the rebel council to help them steal the plans and then suited up to go take the plans themselves, I genuinely thought that was the end of the movie and that stealing the plans would be dealt with in a second movie. I was surprised when the movie kept going. Thinking about it since then, I still think this story felt like it wanted to be two movies, but was heavily cut for time to fit into a single movie — and that what was cut was the character development that would have made these people interesting to me.


    I felt like I was watching a bad anime with some of the lines, about hope, and also felt that there were too many things phoned in for the sake of including them. (Vader in particular). The Tarkin character was severely detracted from by stealing someone else’s work. Jyn was a bit of a Mary Sue and not written consistently(though nowhere near as bad as Rey), and I felt Leia had no reason to be at the space battle(there’s gotta have been a better way to write her into the plot), and the Rebellion engaging the Empire in a mass engagement (with Xwings, which were supposedly brand new at Yavin) before Yavin felt wrong and forced.

    I question how many more SW films I’ll see, though I’ll also admit I’m far from the primary audience, these days.

  43. This film presents an interesting…. opportunity for my family. We saw it Sunday with our Daughter, 7. Quick background: Daughter, via whatever nature/nurture levers brought to bear, was very sensitive, and had a deep-seeded fear of almost any movie from a very young age. Literally any film, including the original Cinderella or the Tigger Movie, had at least once scene sufficiently scary for her to be rendered crying or running out of the room. She’s a voracious reader, and was able to read material far darker, but something about seeing it on-screen was too visceral for many years. As a huge film buff, this was a challenge for me, as I was desperate to share so many movies, but her needs came first, obviously.

    Star Wars was part of the series of films that finally started bringing her out of that shell. She was desperate to see TFA in the theater (and we had plenty of warning), so that was the carrot that let us, gently, introduce her to the early films. Since then she’s started working her way through other PG and PG-13 classics (recently saw Goonies, for example, without being too terrified.)

    With that hurdle behind us, she went into Rogue One with enthusiasm. Nothing in the movie was too *scary* for her – she’s seen enough films and can abstract well enough now that even Vader’s rampage was merely fiction for her. That said, the idea of a film where (FINAL SPOILER ALERT) all the heroes die, was completely alien to her. We could all see on her face that she was still processing it for *hours* afterwards, and likely will continue to for several days.

    There are a lot of teaching opportunities here about what sacrifice means in the real world, and war, or to point out that a lot of heroes die even in the earlier movies (even Porkins was the star of his own life, after all), but I think instead I’m just going to hang back and see where she takes this. Seven may be still too young to have *all* her illusions dashed, though it’s quite possible she won’t be quite so trusting of the movies again for a while…

  44. I loved the new movie. It seemed, to me, to be a completely stand alone movie. I also enjoyed the very Asian style ending. The goal was achieved, but still not “happy.”

    Aside from the CGI it really could have done without the pun from Vader. It actually put a pall over the entire movie for me. The movie wasn’t about the Skywalkers, but don’t ruin a bad ass by making him say an obvious, sophomoric pun. It was so out of character.

  45. It’s very odd to think of this movie as Disneyfied–I walked out and called a Shakespearian death fest which seems to fit in nicely with my impression of 70s film nihilism.

    Tarkin looked a bit too undead for me–too grey, otherwise I had nothing that jumped out at me for his character.

    Leia, to me, was wearing too much make up–that’s what struck me with the first viewing.

  46. I said something similar, even before seeing it: that Disney taking over Star Wars was possibly the best thing to happen to it. Even as Disney is about commercializing and merchandizing things to death – they are also pretty consistent in making good entertainment. Same as for their taking over the MCU — the Marvel movies are consistently entertaining, some are even *good* versus the problems the DC movie universe has had getting a foothold.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One, both from a story standpoint and as an admitted SW geek from way back. It filled in the blanks and I had rewatched the original trilogy leading up to it and SO MUCH made sense. The seamless transition from the end of RO to ANH…perfect.

    Though I have to say, seeing Peter Cushing onscreen (it’s not a spoiler, I don’t think) so many years after his death was jarring. The CGI was decent but obvious, maybe not to people who aren’t old enough to know who he was when he was alive but it was WEIRD and gave me the willies.

  47. For the computer-generated LO at the end I wonder if it wouldn’t have worked better to have just found someone who looked a lot like CF circa 1977 and to have done the work mostly with prosthetics and makeup. I bet they could have found someone.

  48. An absolutely amazing film! Maybe the most likeable SW characters ever, and a totally reasonable plot, didn’t have to wonder about who/why/what even once. Also loved that the creators had the curage not to go for a happy ending but do justice to the story (and it’s audience).

  49. I watched the movie yesterday. My impression of the movie was similar to yours (but not that well worded). Though I visited a small cinema in a small town showing the movie in the original language, the room was well packed and we even had some nicely dressed up cosplayers attending. Though my wife is not a big Star Wars fan, she enjoyed the movie too.

    The only criticism I have is that the character development (especially Cassian Andor) seems to take place off screen. But since this is crucial to the plot, it should have been given more screen time.

  50. I so want to see Disney use this as a blurb for Rogue One!

    Disney is on its game when it comes to Star Wars. They didn’t fuck it up, twice in a row now.

    -John Scalzi

  51. @Chris Turnbow — As Vader Force-chokes Krennic, he says something like “Don’t choke on your own ambitions.” I think it would’ve been more effective if he hadn’t said a word; just walked away silently.

  52. Here’s what I just posted on Facebook:

    Working to avoid spoilers here.

    Regretfully, I’m taking the minority position on “Rogue One”. It’s certainly well constructed. It looks like a SW-verse movie. It has some great action scenes and effects (though in the showing we saw there were some purple pixel artifacts in the sky at a few points, which may have been a flaw in the projector). The cast is capable, and gives it their all. The fan service stuff generally works. And it does rectify one of the biggest complaints I’ve always had about “A New Hope”.

    But I also found it to be loud, dark, grim, hyper, and mostly humorless. What jokes there were didn’t work well for me – a surprise, since Alan Tudyk usually knows how to deliver a funny line. I’m normally a big fan of Michael Giacchino, but this score was overwrought and intrusive. And the IT-related stuff was just awful.

    (Adding text here that’s not on Facebook, since there doesn’t seem to be much objection here to spoilery stuff: Really? You have to get a piece of physical media? And there’s a place to plug in and send the content of that physical media that happens to be at the top of the very tall transmission tower, right under the disk antenna, where you have to work controls at two separate locations, one at the end of a long bridge? And you can get a voice message through the shield, but not the technical data? Really?)

  53. @Chris Turnbow and @Joe H: What Vader said was, “Don’t choke on your own *aspirations*.” The pun is based on “aspirate”, since Krennic’s having trouble breathing.

  54. “It’s the first Star Wars film, basically, that really is more science fiction than space fantasy, and that’s interesting in of itself.”
    Yes! It’s certainly, imho, a better movie than TFA. That one, with weapons effects being naked eye visible in real time from light years away, force wielding emo man children being defeated by former stormtroopers, and various fridge moments, was not that great. Better than any of the prequels, and a good restart, but not great. Only saw it once. R1 was a good movie. Real consequences for the characters. And having Cassian straight up murder his contact on that planet. Talk about morally compromised…

    There were extensive reshoots to lighten the tone which, given how it ended, makes me wonder just how grimdark the original was. Judging from the trailers the entire third act was reworked. I would like to see the original. Maybe a DVD extra? Probably not.

    When Leia appeared there were audibly disgusted reactions from some of the audience. It looked like her face had been digitally mapped onto an actress who looked completely different. Ugh. Tarkin was well done, however. They used a real actor for the role and did a good job of mapping Cushing’s face on him.

    This was the prequel we should’ve gotten.

  55. I loved it, for the most part. The CGI characters weren’t uncanny enough to be a problem for me, and the callbacks made this old Star Wars geek giddy. My only real complaint is that the climax depended a bit too much on poor interface design and inconveniently placed switches.

    I also missed the fanfare and opening crawl. It’s just not Star Wars without them, as far as I’m concerned.

  56. I enjoyed it, and it also nicely ret-conned another (for me) major plot-hole from A New Hope: When you’re being attacked by the Death Star, why wouldn’t you throw every single available ship you have at it, instead of just a couple of dozen X- and Y-Wings? Answer: almost their entire fleet was wiped out retrieving the plans in the first place (real world answer: that was all the SFX they could afford back then).

  57. @all those “Mary sue” comments:

    Really? We are doing this again with a strong Star Wars lady character? Maybe you’re just joking and I didn’t get the sarcasm. But really, Jyn was a flawed, sad, tragic character as much as she was anything else. Isn’t the term Mary Sue supposed to indicate the character is a kind of authorial wish fulfillment? What author sat down and went “… and then, I will die in a massive fireball! Yes!”

  58. I’m going a bit wordy here since this is my first chance in a spoiler zone to really type through my thoughts. Plus no one’s at work this week :)

    My takeaway from the whole thing is in the “perfect is the enemy of good” school of thought. It was undeniably a good Star Wars movie. Possibly in the top 3 in my books, but as you put it in the article whether or not those are good movies is highly debatable. So my problem with this movie is that is was soooo close to being really really good movie that I was let down. So don’t take these critiques as all negative. I liked the movie. It is one of the best Star Wars films ever made. It just had so much more potential in my opinion.

    (Spoilers Ahead)
    First and foremost, the whole “I’ve seen things so I’m dead inside”, affect to the main characters really kills any emotional connection that I could share with these folks. Jyn essentially loses both of her father figures in the span of one act, and except for the scene on the platform with her dad, which is cut short to get back to the action and escape, there’s no emotion to them, little to no after effect.

    In fact the action and pacing overall just tried to jam so many scenes and stories into 2hrs that I didn’t have time to connect with any of it. The final act was the possible exception. This lead me to again disconnect from the characters and the implications of everyone around. “Oh, Jedha city and an ancient significant Jedi temple just blew up. Moving on.”

    Then we have the supporting characters. Some have fun quirks or a little back story. Chirrut and Baze have a nice interplay, and K-2SO’s attitude and commentary give that character more depth than several others combined. Which is kind of sad really that the droid outshines half the cast. But that’s it. Jyn and Cassian are shell shocked and dead inside, and the supporting cast is barely given enough time to develop a story, so the action is fine to go along for the ride, but when all these characters die I didn’t shed a tear.

    Which leads to my next issue. For a so called “dark war movie” there were plenty of explosions and death, but none of the realities of war which make it real for the audience. Yeah the characters die, but you expect it, and I found it hard to feel anything about it. Contrast to something like Saving Private Ryan. Had this been filmed like “Saving Private Deathstar Plans”, and if the characters were explored more and connected to one another and the audience better, then we’d be in Oscar territory. Of course I literally walked out of Saving Private Ryan with a mild case of PTSD, so there’s that. I would never expect Disney to greenlight something like that in a franchise mostly geared to younger audiences.

    But with that said, Disney’s walking a tough line here. Leading up to this I saw many comments, especially around the toy lineup, that people were happy for more, and more diverse, characters for their kids to dress up as and play with. Another lead woman is great, more characters with non white faces are great. But building this up to parents and kids and then killing them all off is … well.

    Not enough can been said about the CGI of Tarkin. It took me about 5 seconds to realize something was wrong, then the mouth movements got out of sync, and after a few more moments I felt like I was watching a Clone Wars character pasted into a live action movie. Uncanney. I was thankful they cut short Leia’s scene at the end.

    As for the good: the scenery, the action, the ships, the pace, all work well to keep the audience engaged. So much of the Star Wars universe make cameos and even make it into the plot line. I mean, hammerhead corvette? That came out of left field, but it was kind of brilliant. The whole universe and much of what it has to offer came to the party and shined. So as a fan-service movie it did a great job. As a Star Wars movie it did a great job. As an entertaining action flick meant to not traumatize the kids too much, pretty good job.

  59. I thought the CGI on Tarkin was very good, the Leia, not so much. I wonder if this may be due to the production team having plenty of time with Tarkin, who was in the original script, and less with Leia, who was (speculatively) added as part of the late reshoots.

  60. Funny that you compared it to the Captain America franchise. I haven’t seen Rogue One yet, but my daughter (10) wants to see it, and based on the (spoilery) reviews I’ve read, I warned her, without giving away too much, that this is a more intense, violent and downbeat film than she’s accustomed to from Star Wars.

    She said “well, I’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s probably similar.”

    I said “Nooooo……think more Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

  61. I really enjoyed it, but I’m kind of surprised nobody (including the author) has mentioned the worst part of the movie: the first Vader appearance, bacta tank and all. It is pure, blatant fanservice on the level of anime panty shots, and the whole scene including his conversation with Krennic serves absolutely ZERO story purpose. Plus, the Making of Darth Vader scenes at the end of ROTS didn’t make it look like his artificial limbs were detachable. Overall, that whole scene was ass, and should never have been filmed ot at least should have been left on the cutting room floor.

    CGI Tarkin was deep enough in the Uncanny Valley that it felt jarring to me and took me right out of my suspension of disbelief every time he was on screen. CGI Leia was worse.

    Considering those are the only two points I really disliked about Rogue One, I’d definitely say Disney didn’t fuck it up.

  62. @Chris Turnbow, Vader’s line to Director Krennic: “Don’t *choke* on your aspirations.”

    Yeah, the pun bugged me, too, but I have learned to get past those sorts of things. It’s tough, but I have come to expect that the more I like a movie/book/show the more some little thing will try to bug me.

    It’s sort of like an Uncanny Valley for subjective enjoyment. If you think a movie (/book/etc.) is only ok or not very good, you don’t seem to notice many little annoyances. But when you enjoy 99.9% of something, that last little bit can seem so very frustrating. Ever since I noticed that, I try to just expect that the more I like something, the more likely some little minor detail will really bug me, and knowing that ahead of time, it kinda helps in recognizing and moving past it.

    But, yeah, not sure about Vader using puns – at least pretty lame one like that.

  63. Matt: I brought my 10-year-old son. I think it was fine for him. I’m really not sure why it’s PG-13 instead of PG.

    There’s the telepathic-octopus-thing-putting-its-tentacles-all-over-someone-in-restraints scene that I think went on one cut too long, and would have been fine to completely leave out, but that’s the most uncomfortable scene in the thing from my point of view.

  64. Oh, and speaking of odd little things – is everyone in the Empire required to carry two (or more) of these big pens in their pockets?

    I suppose maybe there is so much bureaucracy that you need to be able to sign forms in triplicate at a moment’s notice, and the Empire can’t wait for a pen that’s out of ink. But, wow. Again, one of those trivial little things, but once I saw it, it just kept jumping out at me.

    (Oh, and fair warning, careful googling for “really big pens” – apparently some people who post images of… *ahem* other things… can’t always spell correctly.)

  65. Ah… where do I STARt? First off, this is the first of the Rebel propaganda films where I, a near 50 year old male left crying. To me, it is the SW version of The Wrath of Khan. It takes that look into the darker parts of SW. I might even go so far as to say it is the DS9 of the series.

    First off, it might be hard for me to say, but here it is, YOU WON’T like all of the Rebels, nor should you,. Second we get to see some of the dirty stuff any group will go to in order to overthrow the invaders. 

    Third, K-2 reminded me of HK-47 in a lot of ways. Well… the hacked together creation of HK-47, and R2-D2 with a touch of C-3PO tossed in for refinement.

    While for some that one CGI character might try to toss you out of the movie? For me and a friend in England who saw R1 just a couple of hours before me.. We are getting too damn close to the point we can raise people from the dead, at least on film. It may take a few more years to get the CGI just right, but, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, and others ARE on the way.

    Last? I loved the film, It made me wow/HOLY SHIT! a few times. The story was tight, if dark, AND I hoped that at the end of the credits (which I always sit through because the crew deserves that respect) I was ready to see a teaser for Chapter IV, A New Hope.

  66. the film CGIs up a character from the original film which falls dead square into the shadows of the uncanny valley

    i suspect the film-makers themselves knew that, which is why we have several scenes with Tarkin and only a few seconds with Leia: Tarkin looking, well, wrong, didn’t bother me: he’s the embodiment of the Empire’s brutish decadence masquerading as bureaucratic efficiency: the “there’s something wrong about that guy” felt during his scenes was thematically pertinent in my view.

  67. Just for the ignorant people who haven’t seen the latest Rebel propaganda film. Think of it as “In the Pale Moonlight”/DS9 of the guerilla “war” tossed at the Empire by the Rebel Scum. ;-)

  68. Agree with the review and a lot of comments above (especially about ships – some of those dogfight scenes showing X-wings doing loops and twists and other maneuvers we’ve never seen before made me cheer a couple of times).

    For me the main point is Disney didn’t fuck it up again, though I didn’t think they would. They have showed what they are letting Marvel Studios do, and Disney is benefitting from it. So too I would expect for LucasFilm. The coolest thing to imagine after the acquisition is, if I’m lucky enough, being able to take a grandchild to a first-run Star Wars movie. That is pretty incredible.

    Four billion dollars did and does look like a long-run garage sale bargain. It’s going to be fun.

  69. Have hopes for this one. I feel like the previous movie was just breathless in it’s pace, like it was attempting to cram two films into one. Hoping this one gives me some time to give a damn about the characters.

  70. A story by John Knoll? It’s not enough for him to be incredibly visually talented (bigwig at ILM who worked his way up from the floor), incredibly computer-talented (original programmer of what became Adobe Photoshop), he has to have a frickin’ storytelling talent as well?

    My hat is off to him. Need to see this movie.

  71. Again, I liked the movie, But as long as we’re pointing out problems…

    – Didn’t like the truth-teller monster. Really? It’s easier to keep and feed that thing than to just slap people around some?
    – Not entirely sure what Jyn’s mom thought she was going to accomplish by walking up to several heavily-armed people. “Welp, I need to tragically die, so let’s get a move on.”
    – Major Galaxy Quest flashbacks as Jyn was trying to get to the top of the tower. “What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn’t have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?”
    – The only place to transmit is on top of the tower? Why? Although I’m pretty sure the TIE fighter shot up the alignment walkway Jyn was on because it was the only structure in the entire SW universe to ever have railings. I mean, that’s just not natural.
    – I wasn’t bothered by the wooden acting. That’s a Star Wars tradition as old as light sabers and sound in space.

  72. I went in knowing about the cgi characters, but I didn’t find them distracting. Maybe it was because I saw it in 3d imax, where everything is slightly over-clear, dunno.

    Referring to what Colin said earlier, I was pretty pleased the plot line went for major characters developing respect and friendship instead of devolving to ‘budding romance tragically inconvenienced by major war’.

    I also liked GMT’s charactarization; it was very much in the spirit of banal bureauocratic evil. Of course use one’s rival’s successful project to solve a problem, advance one’s career *and* destroy one’s rival in one easy explosion. Elegant, practical. Both professionally and personally satisfying.

  73. //So don’t read this if you haven’t seen it but I really wanted some of the people to survive this movie and no one did. //

    If they all survive how do you explain their non-existence in A New Hope? They had to kill them off to justify their absence in the subsequent events.

  74. I am glad to hear our host liked the movie. I’ve only read two other reviews, one of which made me think this might not be in the range of happy, light entertainment I’ve been favoring of late. May wait just a little bit to see this one, but definitely will at some point.

  75. My two sisters and I all had the immediate reaction that the score fell way short of John Williams and it bothered us. I was a bit surprised by my reaction to that, but I guess I’ve gotten to accustomed to Williams’ brilliance being an integral part of a Star Wars movie.

    For my part, CGI GMT bothered me less than LO (maybe it was the bright lighting that made her a bit more obvious).

    I was also surprised (pleasantly this time) by how they managed to keep the tension high at the end of the movie when we all knew how it was going to end.

    But I did have a moment watching the realignment dish control scenes thinking, “I guess there’s no OHSA in the Empire. ”

    @jay blank : your pun was better than Vader’s ;)

    @Dane : I agree, the lack of a fleet was a good filling of a plot hole for me too

  76. Keep in mind the composer only had 4 weeks to bang out a score that needed the same resonance as any other SW flick and still be his own.

    I know Tarun was CG going in. I sat in the 3rd row (like right up against the screen) and I thought he was great.

    My wife thought he and Leia both were real.

  77. Oh, and one plot hole they should have filled but didn’t: why not take the opportunity to show Vader injured at the very end, to maybe explain why he’s been superninja for the prequels but moves like, well, like I do (old, slow, kind of sad) when he’s fighting Kenobi in “A New Hope”?

  78. @kenmarable I did not see it as that bad a line from Vader. He has been known to be snarky (“apology accepted captain Nida” or lines from the recent comic, which admittedly are not films but are official Disney canon). Those examples are sarcastic, not puns, but still he has been known to deliver a line in an opportunistic moment here or there.

    @arrowquivershaft Jin a Mary Sue? Really? I did not see evidence for that at all here, and I am the first to concede that Rey can be seen as one. And I have zero issues with the x-wings and same squadrons being used. The raid on the Death Star in A New Hope cannot possibly have been their first assault, and as for new, this film must take place days or weeks before that film (how long does that film take?)

    I think JS pretty much nailed the review, especially the comment on how the script works well with the tone with the exception of a few emotionally intimate moments that don’t quite take.

    Finally I see that I am in the minority in that CGI GMT bugged me, but CGI Leia was just fine for me (of course, she is only on screen for a few seconds).

    Looking forward to the Han Solo feature.

  79. This said everything I did in my review, just in greater detail and, of course, more eloquently. I fact, the human CGI was so jarring to me because of how otherwise realistic the science fiction was (in comparison) and how believable the Star Wars universe looked in Rogue One. Two other out of place moments, both related to Vader: The toss-off Ahnuld-like smart-mouth comment was completely out of character, as was the way the body actor sashayed when we first see Vader walking, like he was on America’s Next Top Model.

  80. My thoughts on StarWars-restart in general?

    I grew up with the first trilogy. I loved it. I was born 1969 and StarWars was my first touch with movies ever (aside from Cap and Capper – what an upbringing *g*).

    “I have my StarWars back” – I loved every second of the first movie and I will love every single moment of Rogue One (didn’t see it yet here in Germany, too much christmas :) ).

    It’s StarWars. Dirty. Full of creative ideas. With characters you can feel with. Good storytelling.

    Not the CGI-Soap-Opera of the “Prequel”.

    I have my StarWars back. Oh the childhood memories. :)

  81. At first I thought they got a great lookalike to GMT, but after a couple of scenes the uncanny valley bothered me. Leia’s cameo being so short, was OK, and I was thrilled to see Red Leader and Gold Leader. I don’t know how I would have written it, but I would’ve like to have seen a reference to the many Bothans who died retrieving those plans.

  82. Rogue One kinda wrecked my shit to the point that I’m not sure, 4 days later, if I liked it or not. It is just Dark AF, both thematically and cinematically.

    Thematically, it laughs at your childhood Empire-related trauma. It watched the “younglings” scene from Revenge and thought, “Heh, cute.” There are a few shots in the last five minutes that, for an ’80s kid, are pure, high octane nightmare fuel. Gareth Edwards is only 2 years younger than me, so he had to know that.

    Cinematically, I spent half the movie trying to clean my glasses. Between this and his “Godzilla”, I’ve decided I just don’t care for Edwards’s filmmaking style. He doesn’t like lighting. He doesn’t like sound. (I keep meaning to see if anyone on the sound design crew for R1 had worked on previous SW movies/TV. If so, they must have been tearing their hair out they way Edwards kept telling them to turn down the levels.)

    CGI Tarkin was a significant misstep. Better to just recast the role. This was, after all, a SW filmed clearly aimed at adult fans. CGI Leia, which was a short enough shot that it worked much better for me, would have been hailed if we hadn’t been primed for bad CGI by Tarkin.

    This was a strange final cut they released. I’m well aware that trailers are often cut together from footage that doesn’t make it into the released film. But in this case, those trailers had some shots and lines of dialog that were destined to become iconic parts of the SW canon. Like, “I rebel.” They’re selling t-shirts with that shit! I bought two for my own teenage daughters, and part of the cost went to UNICEF. But it’s no where in the final film.

    I mean, who am I kidding. It’s Star Wars, I’ll see it a dozen times more. Star Wars is like pizza to me. (Yes, even those movies, even that character. Fight me.) But R1 isn’t bad. And it’s an auspicious start to the “Star Wars Story” anthology.

  83. I don’t know if Alan Tudyk recorded his vocals after the other actors, or if he was there on set with them. I could see him delivered K2S0’s dialogue with the same deadpan intensity.

    …although I half expected a “sudden but inevitable betrayal” once he interfaced with the Imperial archives from the inside.

  84. @Dave Mattingly He was onset in his motion capture. On stilts. Running through sand. Oh, the DVD extras are going to be awesome.

  85. @LawrenceCarrington, This would be the wrong movie for a Bothan ref. They died getting the plans for the second Death Star, sadly enough.

  86. Well, I finally found something on which we disagree John. I thought they did fuck up the first Disney Star Wars film. So badly in fact that I will not be going to the theater to see the second one. I’ll probably see it on video at some point, but they ruined the last one with the stupid Han helps his son kill him so his son can join a gang crap. What a steaming pile…

  87. Re: “Mary Sues”:

    Canonically, a Mary Sue is an idealized authorial insert into the story. It’s difficult seeing Jyn as one of those (or for that matter, Rey). The definition of “Mary Sue” has been getting more smeary as time goes on and I for one am not inclined to have it smear any further; it makes the trope useless.

  88. @cabridges: I think the use of the Bor Gullet creature is meant to extend the parallel of Saw Gerrera to Darth Vader. Gerrera’s re-introduction emphasizes his prosthetics and breathing apparatus, and his use of a mind-melting truth-sensing creature seemed like a parallel to Vader’s needle-torture machine in A New Hope. Gerrera is the leader of the terrorist offshoot of the Rebellion, and the scenes serve to show how removed he is from his humanity, and how morally close he brushes to the Empire he fights against.

  89. @sbradfor: “the stupid Han helps his son kill him so his son can join a gang crap”

    That is such an objectively wrong interpretation of that scene that I have to wonder if we actually saw the same film.

    With respect to Rogue One: great film, but the CGI characters were noticeably off. It’s the upper lip that always gets me, really – Hollywood can’t yet animate photorealistic humans to look right when they’re speaking. It’s as bad in Rogue One as it was in Tron:Legacy, which is where I first put my finger on the problem. I’m willing to cut them a little slack for Tarkin as he had a prominent role in the plot, but they could have never shown Leia’s face without diminishing the effectiveness of that final scene.

  90. I think I loved Rogue One more than I thought I would because of the willingness to NOT include anyone from the saga. If this film was made during the Expanded Universe days, it would be Han Solo stealing the plans, or some otherwise unnecessary main character. As much as I loved the EU, they never could get far enough away from them.

  91. @Lawrence Carrington: The “many Bothans” thing bothered my husband so much that I had to look it up and and prove to him that comment was made in reference to the plans for the *second* Death Star.

  92. I’ve not seen either of the Disney owned Star Wars films. After the 3 earlier prequels, I really don’t see the point in continuing. Did browse the comments. Interesting, but not enough so to go see the film.

  93. Probably not the first to make this comment, but as an old EU fan the only thing i would disagree about would be the inclusion of things for product placement.

    The movie included multiple individuals (death troopers!) and vehicles (new walkers! New TIEs!) that basically serve no purpose the old versions wouldn’t serve except that new vehicles sell more toys. And as a prequel movie it kind of bugged me (particularly the TIEs).

    I liked the movie! But w lot of the periphery characters/tech was notably new versions for no reason except well ….product placement

  94. R1 was a better movie than TFA. The fact the main cast all dies did not surprise me. I did like the easter eggs inserted in regards to other in canon material. This is a good experiment to see if stories not centered on the Skywalker opera works and works it does.

    This marks the 3rd appearance of Grand Moff Tarkin in a SW movie. There is one scene at the end of Episode III where Palpatine and Vader are looking the frame of the proto Death Star that had Tarkin stepping away from the Emperor. The physical performance in that was provided by Wayne Pygram.

    There is footage used in the trailers that I guess were deliberately shot as decoys as there is no way they could have been used given how the plot ultimately developed.. An example cited above was the TIE fighter hovering in front of the platform. A couple further examples are; footage of Krennic walking across the beach, and footage of Jyn and Andor running across the beach with the other commandos that had Jyn holding the data module.

    Either that or the script underwent major revisions during production as all the info regarding the reshoots were to insert humor.

  95. @garik16 Standard stormtroopers get the job done just fine, but this is the first movie that answered a question I’ve always had-is it *just* the white stormtroopers, or do they adapt to different environments? So you have troopers with camouflage, etc. I want to know more about the Death Troopers- why does Krennic get them? Is it because he’s in charge of the Death Star? If so, why not Tarkin as well, who is close enough to Krennic to immediately usurp him and steal his credit? Is the squad we saw the only ones?

    I’m with you on the TIEs though. In the Rebels TV series, the rebellion has already stolen A-Wings and B-wing prototypes, which are faster and more durable than Imperial TIEs, so it makes sense they would be developing a new version to combat the potential new threat, and have some in testing production by the time Rogue One happens, especially on a planet like Scarif, where the Imperial records are kept-you want what feels like your best equipment available. Same with the walkers, which appear to be your standard At-ATs with extra combat plating- you want to make sure these things can outlast any Rebel ground force, which would have been fine, except they didn’t anticipate any air support making their way through the shields.

    I get your beef that Disney may have mandated some new SKUs come out of production. They probably did! But I think they also serve as a neat lens with which to view the empire’s R&D leading up to a New Hope – perhaps their failure on Scarif is why you never again see that TIE variant.

  96. I think the AT-ATs on Scarif were actually cargo-hauler variants — those big orange blocks in their sides were shipping containers. There was at least one scene where an AT-AT didn’t have the cargo container in place and it was just a big hole in the middle of the body.

  97. I think I’m going to disagree with… well, looks like the entire internet, that the Death Star’s fatal flaw represented a plot hole. On the contrary, I think Lucas did a remarkable job covering his bases, while still providing for a conclusion to his story, and allowing himself to create the sequence he wanted. The only real mistakes were in letting Luke challenge Wedge’s assertion that hitting the target would be “impossible, even for a computer”, and not emphasizing Dodonna’s line that the chain reaction should destroy the station. I think he was wary of making the Rebel’s victory seem too miraculous? He also didn’t have the budget and/or technology to show the station coming apart at the seems, and had to settle with it popping like a bubble. RotJ and TFA do a better job here.

    The charge, if you want to call it that, that R1 is “fan fiction” is accurate, but misses the point. All of the “Star Wars Story” anthology films are going to be, essentially, elevated fan fictions. Because in order to generate maximum interest, they’re going to need to be woven into existing details of the “Star Wars Saga” film. This movie had to comport to basically two lines from ANH’s opening crawl, and maybe another dozen lines of dialog. It mostly does so.

  98. Will be seeing it on Wednesday, and so not reading the comments.

    NOTE: John Carter was an AWESOME Disney movie that was victimized by poor publicity. Why Disney didn’t promo the SASS out of it is beyond me. It’s long: yes. It’s not really per the original by Burroughs: but it’s Disney and Disney will not make a movie where everyone is naked! The CGI in this things ROCKS. People, go watch it!

    Now, I respectfully turn the channel back to the Rogue One that you tuned in for.

  99. Overall I liked it a lot. As you say, very different in tone, but still recognizable as a Star Wars film.

    Re: the giant IT tower with physical media, that bothered me too at first, but as I watched the sequence I realized: This is a secure storage facility for highly classified data. There’s some logic to keeping the most critical files isolated on offline physical media so that even a super-ultra-hacker can’t get at it.

    I still can’t make the transmission tower setup make sense, though, except possibly as another layer of physical security (like the landing platforms for cargo ships being way out at the end of a spur). Maybe ordinary protocols require the drive to be kept within an area whose computer systems are also isolated from the rest of the base network (and the Imperial internet), and any transmission requires five levels of review, forms filed in triplicate, and an armed escort to the top of an open-air tower where a guard can watch you and ensure that you’re only transmitting to the approved ship?

  100. John, I’m curious if you read Catalyst before seeing the movie. I did and my wife did not. She still loved the film as much as I did, but I really felt more connection to everything going on. The book really helps set up the movie without being required to enjoy the movie. I’m wondering if the book still works for people after seeing the movie.

  101. I rather liked the argument from that fan animation with the indignant Death Star engineer, saying that, really, making that shot was completely impossible unless you had a pilot who was a super-Jedi-level magical Force wizard, and just whose fault is it that the Rebel Alliance just happened to have a natural one of those? The guy with the black mask, maybe?!

  102. I agree on the one bit of CGI that was just…off. I was happy to see him in the movie, but not with how fake it looked.

    My one issue with this movie was the characters. I really felt that, outside of K-2S0, none of the characters really had a lot of depth to them. That’s not to say I didn’t like some of them. It is just hard to remember who they were or why I should care.

    I will say, this has me excited to see what other non-Saga movies they can do. I think if they keep with the Marvel strategy of making movies, they will do fine. Those have all be some random genre, with superheroes added in. I want the same thing here. Random genre, with Star Wars added in.

  103. “This is a galaxy that is not neat and clean and utopically shiny.”

    I don’t know, those Star Destroyers looked a bit too clean to me. Coming out of the movie, that was my biggest gripe. It’s like LucasFilm just glued a few models together and called it a day.

  104. This may actually be my favorite SW film.

    I was 16 when the first movie came out in 1977. I already had ten years of reading sf under my belt, so I knew the plot was watered-down space opera, pitched too much at kids. But it was great because there were so many elements I knew from books that I’d never seen on screen before.

    With R1, it feels like the franchise is growing up. From the opening scene, with a muted color pallet like we’ve never seen in Star Wars, it felt like a war movie that happened to be set in the SW universe. Real suffering, sacrifice, and consequences. I like the Imperial officers being portrayed not as cartoon villains but as believably selfish, power-hungry, amoral Fascist pricks. (We might all become experts on that subject in the next few years.)

    As a movie buff who’s very fond of Peter Cushing, I’m not really comfortable with seeing his face electronically resurrected. I’d rather they’d found a way around that. I wouldn’t have minded if they’d just recast the part. (Ralph Fiennes, maybe?)

    K-2S0 is my favorite SW robot. Really, the first one that feels like a real character to me — not silly comic relief, not a slave, not a clever pet.

  105. My thinky thoughts, having seen it last night:
    One: CGI Tarkin was fine for me. I leaned to my wife and said ‘Wow’ at one point and she nodded. Yes, in some shots he was obviously part-CGI (I’m assuming that like Leia, a physical actor/actress was used and then modified), but I didn’t care. It’s interesting to me to see people have totally different opinions on both characters (one worked/one didn’t, vice versa, neither, both).
    Two: As our host mentions, I don’t think either Jyn or Rey are Mary Sues and the use of the term has become somewhat diluted by misunderstanding, overuse or the use as a pejorative. I think it’s odd that someone would think a damaged character like Jyn is even in the same ballpark.
    Three: I freaking LOVE when they add new variants, regardless of why they’re there. I remember thinking that the 501st are going to BUSY after this. I liked the U-Wing, in particular.
    Four: Cripes, at least a few of the Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven survived.
    Five: After this, I’m willing to give the Han Solo movie a fair chance. They’ve earned it.

  106. You know, I was actually wondering, since according to canon basically everyone dies in getting these plans, how Disney was going to carry it off, since most of their films are such blatant merchandising vehicles.

    If they were true to canon, everyone you care about in the whole of the hero’s journey, basically should die horrible tragic — perhaps heroic and worthy sacrificial — deaths by the end, making it more of a 1972 period just-post-Vietnam _Apocalypse Now_ type cadre fuck-up jungle movie, as a prequel to the 1977 post Watergate, Reagan era _New Hope_ yuppies-turn-bumbling-heroes schtick.

    No way Disney would make that movie. You couldn’t possibly take a kid to it. Too dark, too grim. Too close to what the Sith would really be like.

    Ok, close enough. What a surprise.

    The alt-right was correct, they should worry about this movie. It really is about the cost of opposing fascism and despotism, and the lack of intestinal fortitude we’ll be watching globally for the upcoming while as Republics fall, one after another, and as the prospect of any alliance against Empire falls to pieces over and over again.

    It’s dark.

    As a career Mary Sue IRL? There are people who use fanfic conventions to demand people be ordinary too. It’s procrustean, particularly for female protagonists, POC, etc. I argued that about the last movie. She kicked ass. I know women like her.

    Just ask anyone. You can’t possibly go out and change the world, not even in the company of others, because that would be insane, ridiculous. We turn people like MLK or Gandhi, or whoever into these plaster saints and write hagiographies and name secular saint’s days for them, “whitewash” their bios to make them look like they were without doubt or controversy, were never villified by the press, never had scandals, never were targeted by the FBI/secret police, never lost their temper at an innocent and fucked up.

    Kids grow up thinking that social change is as unattainable as writing the perfect novel, or producing the perfect hit song — but even more so, because in school, someone will teach them a bit about music or creative writing. If they try to change something at their school to make it more just for the students? Likely they’ll be pushed down and punished, and learn to keep their heads down; their parents (if any) will tell them to STFU and watch their Permanent Record, keep their nose clean, think about their future. And in the next breath those same teachers, administrators and parents will tell them to look up to Dr King. Or whomever. Who is nothing like them, apparently, because they are a sociopath and a troublemaker, possibly bound for jail.

    This is why we can’t have nice things. And probably not one of you will do shit about it. Except, you know, blog. Or write a comment.

    Or say that (wo)men like me, who did a bit of everything, who (say) worked in national security and cybersecurity and human rights and something akin to Asimov’s psychohistory in strategic forecasting and cyber/cypherpunk tools on the NGO side, and saved lives and fought tyranny (here and abroad), and facilitated changing the world, and didn’t go after recognition — who personally worked to save a building full of journalists during the coup in Thailand, and who with many others helped protect the folks organizing in Tahrir Sq from being disappeared by Mubarak’s thugs, we don’t exist? I didn’t write SF, I lived it.

    Look, if we brag, we’re arrogant not to mention disbelieved, if we’re quiet, we’re invisible and erased.

    Either way, the status quo doesn’t want heroes, and most of you don’t want to think that you need to walk out your front door to a water district committee meeting (which is important), much less an adventure — nasty long uncomfortable things, make you late for dinner.

    And no, most of you are not highly adaptive polymath heros that would give a force sensitive type in a fictional universe or a trained commando a decent run on being a protagonist up against state level adversaries in a cyberpunk novel.

    But that’s not what most of you would ever be called to be. It would be nice though, if more of you would pry your butts out of your ergonomic chairs 20h a month and work on your own communities. Deign to wade into sausage making, and clean it up by showing up. Be the rebellion you want to see in the world. I’ve officially given up on that. Begging. Cajoling. Yelling. Nothing has worked. Any amount of time on sad puppies, nothing for real life politics that means something. All this talent, gone to waste.

    I was 18 when A New Hope came out. It was so uncool to be altruistic. You weren’t supposed to be a hero. “Yuppie” had just been coined. Some of us worked our whole careers trying to keep this year from happening, and we had very little help. We failed. Like the citizens of the Republic, you blame us, along with the people who actually were corrupt, because we were there fighting inside the system that was corrupt to try to fix things, like the Jedi in canon.

    I have lost personal friends, Aaron Swartz, others, in this fight. I expect to lose more. But most of you are satisfied to read fiction, and watch the world go to hell. We are so good at world building fiction, but so poor at building and maintaining our world.

    Well, I’ve failed, I am broken, I am done. Like Poindexter after the Cole, the dark side is eating me up, but unlike him, I am retreating; I am off to Dagobah. Good luck with the Empire and the Sith.

  107. @Vonne Anton, two words to say about John Carter: TARS TARKAS! As an old ERB reader that there sealed the deal for me. I got to see a green Martian at his buttocks beating best. :-)

  108. Some of the easter eggs went *very* deep. I was the only one in a full theater to LOL at the “obsolete T-15” stormtrooper banter.

  109. It’s clear that the people who wrote this script love Star Wars. I mean, REALLY love Star Wars. How much do they love Star Wars? Well, as far as I can tell so far, they managed to out-geek even most hardcore Star Wars geeks. I know the Internet is a big place, but so far I’ve yet to see anyone pointing out the multiple references to Lucas’ original draft of “The Star Wars.” That right there is some hard core, deep love geekery.

  110. I enjoyed the film thoroughly. However my standards are low; the only Star Wars film that I disliked in the theatre was “Attack of the Clones”. My dislike for the prequels grew with time.

    As I was watching the film (about 2/3’s of the way in) I thought that I was watching the best Star Wars film ever. I am glad that I am not the only one who thinks that way.

    I did not particularly mind the CGI Peter Cushing; I was impressed that they did it so well. I commented to my oldest that I almost did not notice the uncanny valley. I also made the “Galaxy Quest” connection when Jin was climbing the tower; why did that think keep opening and closing.

    The movie was dark. But I am glad for that. George Lucas made everything very sanitized. War and rebellion only had a cost that happened off screen; very rarely did one of the heroes have to make a sacrifice. Rogue 1 showed us up front that rebellion has a cost and that many heroes of a rebellion die. I really loved it for that as well.

  111. I didn’t think it was a great movie for several reasons. I deliberately did not watch any promotional materials before seeing the movie, but I had heard it would be more ‘war movie’ than Star Wars. Well, it abjectly failed at being a war movie worthy of the genre. The only characters I felt anything for were Jedi monk dude and his machine gunning buddy. Everyone else’s death was just a kind of “well, of course they died” moment. Some for reals bad stuff; Tarkin and Leia’s digital representations, awful product from ILM. Why did Jyn remotely care about Rebel Man at the end? You can see how emotionally invested I am in this film given I don’t know the co-staring character’s name. There wasn’t any sort of sub-plot for that relationship to build off. Why did Tarkin top the satellite dish off the building instead of shooting it directly? Drama, of course, but it was lame. The worst of all, though, was the Tantive IV being a sort of life boat for the flagship. Why even have Leia go along at all if she wasn’t going to be an integral part of the plan? Had Vader’s ship not shown up, and the Rebel fleet got off as normal, Leia would’ve had absolutely no involvement in the engagement, so why risk her in the first place? Then, the entire plausible deniability of the Tantive being a consular ship in ANH is shot through.

    I dunno. It failed to engage me as a war movie, and it didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the SW universe either. It DID seem very Disney MCU, though, so if that’s viewed as ‘good’, then yes it was good.

  112. It’s craftsmanlike and handsome. The spectacle of the last act almost makes up for the lurching incoherence of the first two. But none of the characters come into focus at all – they barely register as types, let alone individuals. And doesn’t it kind of bug you that after all these years, they don’t have any better ideas than “Let’s crawl up the asshole of the 1977 film, again?”

  113. The prequels are deeply flawed, but — with the exception of a few real clunker moments — the back half of Revenge of the Sith is a great piece of filmmaking. I really appreciated that Rogue One took its connections to Episode III as seriously as its connections to Episode IV, especially with a couple of the casting choices.

    And it did a good job of explaining why it look another nineteen years after we saw a half-complete Death Star in Revenge of the Sith before its first full-bore demonstration in A New Hope.

  114. chacha1@12.27:

    docrocketscience above beat me to the reference, but if the thought of “The Dirty Dozen In SPAAAAAAAAAAACE!” makes you go “Oh, sweet popsicle Loki NO”? Maybe wait on this one.

  115. As GMT appeared on the screen, I whispered to my wife, “Boy! He’s certainly had a lot of work done.” Preserved the illusion for her (okay, also a little mean!). But, nothing could save the last CGI scene. Sheesh!

    I could not help but notice some rebel “grunts” mimicked Vietnam era helmet and flak jacket style – boonie rats, they used to call them. Made the battle scene more heart wrenching to me.

    Finally, I work as part of a product development team. No engineer or operations person is going to accept a master switch out in the open or transmission station at the top of an antenna dish tower. Helloooo! Empire! Coax anyone?

  116. Seen it in 3D and 2D now (both trips work related, if you get the chance to see it in a Dolby Atmos theatre… do. I don’t work for them so not shilling, but the richer audio experience is IMO significantly more of a drawcard for the modern theatre experience than 3D) and, for me at least, Tarkin in 2D was way less creepy than 3D. Also K-2S0 may be Marvin’s spiritual brother but Vader probably got the best comedic moment in what was otherwise a quite dark and adult film

  117. I really appreciated the dark bits that Rogue One introduced to the overall story of Star Wars. Knocking the shine off the rebels and showing Darth Vader acting in a truly evil manner, in his suit of armor/life support, gives more teeth to the fight in IV, V, and VI. The battle sequences, both in space and on the surface, were the best of the series. Rogue One was much better than I expected BUT count me in the camp that was distracted by Tarkin and Leia.

  118. @docrocketscience: You’re not the only one who never saw the Death Star’s reactor flaw as a “plot hole”. Anything channeling gargantuan amounts of energy is going to require a whole lot of stuff to work properly and in a timely fashion if it’s not going to go kablooey. IRL, the Challenger was felled by something as mundane as rubber o-rings. In fiction, how many times has the Enterprise had its warp drive go off-line due to a glancing hit? A vulnerability inherent in the principle every bit as much as a flaw in the design, in other words. There probably was an alternative plan to get to the reactor core via Rebel sappers posing as maintenance crew or suchlike; I wouldn’t be surprised if this was covered in the pre-Disney EU somewhere.

    Speaking of pre-Disney EU, Dark Horse had a non-canon title called Star Wars Tales that featured in one issue a humorous take on a Death Star design conference featuring Vader, Tarkin, and Palpatine. One passage went something like this:

    Tarkin: “Only a fighter could possibly get close enough to that exhaust port, and even if it didn’t get chewed up by turbolasers, it’d have to be going like a bat out of hell, *and* accurately hit a two-meter-wide target. Trust me–nobody in the GALAXY could make a shot like that!”

    Vader: “a-HEM!”

    This piece also explains why there are no railings along the tractor beam control catwalks: they’d push up the cost by 25%.

    Palpatine: “Well, I guess I’ll just have to be careful, then.”

  119. Nobody has mentioned the main thing that seemed “off” to me about the CGI Tarkin, which makes me wonder if it was me over-imagining things or maybe the angle from my seat in the theater or something. To me, the biggest issue with him was that his eyes were consistently and overly bloodshot, as though he was already on the verge of death. Cushing in the original film is obviously “old” but gives the impression that he is perfectly spry and ready to do evil–here, I kept half-expecting him to keel over from a stroke.

    The Leia CGI seemed bright and shiny, but it was over so fast that I couldn’t really form an opinion as to whether that was intentional (fresh-faced, enthusiastic, and so on) or was truly an “artifact.” Either way, it went by so quickly that it didn’t bother me much at all. Her enthusiasm in that moment, though, did a little bit. I understand being happy and relieved to have the plans, but shoot, a whole lot of people (including those on the ship she’s traveling on) just got slaughtered or are about to be. I thought a more appropriate reaction would be the same word, “Hope,” but delivered with more of a somber sigh.

  120. I’m glad it’s a great movie – sad that it took Disney to do it. I’ve turned into a Disney hater as I became an old grouchy person who thinks that copyrights need to expire someday. The mouse and his ears should become free some day, now that everyone who had anything to do with inventing him is long dead. Is “Pirates of the Caribbean” also a Disney franchise? I suspect so. They’re good too.

    No offense, John, I know copyrights are good for your family. On the other hand, well, I’m glad it’s a good movie. We’ll go see it asap.

    Doctor Strange was great, I would go see it again just to experience the effects in 3-D. If anyone hasn’t seen it, highly recommended. And stay for all the credits, there’s more film after they all run, and it sets up the next film in the (long and prosperous) series. Quite an evil trick, but we always watch the whole set, just to see the odd person we know of out there.

  121. Rogue One is a Star Wars film with the sensibilities of the great Hong Kong Films.

    I’m not sure whether that was deliberate or not, but that blend of over the top action, and a willingness to bounce freely between humor and pathos, is exactly what we see in HK Cinema. As is the willingness to have a character death list approximate the character list.

    I loved it, but I love Hong Kong films.

  122. I enjoyed the film a great deal but it had a couple of major flaws.

    Primarily, it stretched credulity that Tarkin would order the destruction of the base on Scarif. This was an expensive Imperial outpost with a level of security we’d never encountered before. (Speaking of which, if it’s possible to put a planet-wide force field around an Earth-gravity sized planet, it raises the question of why they didn’t have a similar shield around the Death Star itself?) One might even think such a idyllic and secure site might be staffed by a few family members of high-ranking Imperials. An order to vaporize one’s own elite outpost wouldn’t just fall to the whim of one man, even if he is a Grand Moff. Plus, as we saw in A New Hope, Tarkin overconfidently believed the Death Star to be utterly impregnable. Is the mere possibility that the rebels were headed to Scarif to steal its plans worth obliterating such a high-level asset over? After all, we’re meant to think that Scarif was a one-of-a-kind repository for all types of military blueprints and other extremely valuable records. Supposedly the rebels had to break into that nigh-impossible-to-break-into location because that was the ONLY place the Death Star plans were located, along with thousands of other sensitive documents. It was vital to the Empire. If so, destroying the location would be doing the rebels a favor. The hapless gnat-sized rebellion might be thwarted in getting the Death Star plans, but at the cost of so much other top-level information being irretrievably lost. So I submit that it makes no logical sense, only dramatic sense in terms of decisively killing off the Rogue One heroes. And superficially that felt like a bold narrative choice — the demise of the main characters, deliberately closing off any avenues for their stories continuing (except, see K2 below). But I felt that because it lacked logical cohesion, the destruction of Scarif came off as a bit of a cheap shot. Besides, we all know that even if “sequels” are ruled out, Disney can still make prequels, sidequels, reboots, and so on, and that knowledge means that for us as viewers, the shock of a permanent cinematic death is necessarily blunted.

    The destruction of the colony on Jedha is similarly illogical. To test your new superweapon, you’re going to destroy a major Imperial kyber crystal mining facility, as opposed to some random deserted area? “Haha I’m so bad-assed I just stabbed myself in the eye!” Okey-dokey Tarkie. (Narratively it served the function of killing off Saw Gerrera. But for me he came off as unlikeable anyway. He was even distrusted by the woman he raised from childhood. (Do all adult relationships in the Star Wars universe have to be marred by distrust and betrayal?) So who cared about his death except for hardcore uberfans who remembered him from the animated series?)

    Anyway, that all that aside, I really liked the Rogue One crew, particularly K-2SO. This is the first time we’ve seen a droid who is that limber and kinetic, and intellectually equal to his human counterparts. Droids are usually either incapable of human speech or have deliberately stunted personalities so as to sidestep the ethics of droid slavery, but Kaytoo was a full-fledged person, for me an improvement in every respect over C-3PO. His death was the most heartbreaking part of the film but it occurred to me that conceivably, he didn’t die after all. He could’ve uploaded his personality matrix into the Scarif mainframe, and wrapped it inside executable code designed to attach itself to the transmission of the Death Star plans, thus surviving the destruction of the Scarif base. That would at least explain why this selfish character would suddenly and uncharacteristically be willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good. (Or maybe he was never really selfish at all, just pretending to have a flaw so as not to show up his human masters with his utter flawlessness.) True, resurrecting him would totally ruin the dramatic value and moral depth of his final moments, but hey, theme park money, so maybe somebody ought to suggest it to Disney.

  123. Dave Auburn:

    I can see the economic argument for crawling up the asshole of the 1977 film, to wit: If you’re going to start a sideline Star Wars series (as these anthology films will be), it’s easier to mitigate the risk of the effort by putting in elements that are already popular with your audience — like the Death Star and Vader, etc. And as an aesthetic bonus, you get a “prequel” film that isn’t completely terrible, which is another mitigation act.

    But, yes, sooner or later it will be nice for the universe to get away from the same old elements over and over again. Maybe in another decade or two.

  124. I was pleased that the death star didn’t have the stupid “we can see the results of the death star weapon as it destroys multiple planets in other star systems” of last year’s The Force Awakens. The placement of the transmission controls didn’t make sense, though, and I thought the CGI faces of Leia and Gen. Tarkin were on the wrong side of the uncanny valley, and I thought Leia’s face was too shiny. I sure hope they cast a new Han Solo rather that doing a CGI face in the next prequel. I thought the ending was done well, and emphasized Leia’s message in SW IV.

  125. If I recall correctly, it didn’t seem like Jyn and Cassian were originally planning to send the transmission from the top of the tower. It seemed to me that they were planning to transmit from the retrieval room but there was some sort of power outage and then K2 told them that they could also transmit directly from the tower.

  126. So, anybody have any thoughts on the ableism issue with Chirrut Imwe? A lot of folks I know who deal with disabilities have been talking about how much they dislike that character.

  127. @Z. Charles: Iforget which character says it, but Jedha by that point was pretty much depleted of crystals.

  128. “When you’re being attacked by the Death Star, why wouldn’t you throw every single available ship you have at it, instead of just a couple of dozen X- and Y-Wings? ”

    It’s sort of covered in the original isn’t it? The Death Star secondary armaments are optimised for taking out capital ships. Deploying the full fleet will just get it destroyed even if the fighters get through. Having the fleet pull out means that there’s something to rebuild about even if Yavin 4 is destroyed.

  129. @Michael R. Nichols: The “meta-narrative” criticism you linked to might make more sense if “A New Hope” were a BRAND NEW movie, made after “Rogue One.” It’s true that the optics are bad when a diverse, mostly-POC cast dies so that an all-white trio can save the day in the next chapter — but when that “next” chapter has already been written and set in stone decades before, there’s not much you can do about it. In creating a prequel to “A New Hope” TODAY, in the 21st century, the filmmakers absolutely did the right thing in writing and casting for diverse characters. While they can’t recast the original trilogy, at least they were able to populate the Star Wars universe with more women and POC in prominent roles. And if Disney continues to do so for all Star Wars films going forward, more power to them.

  130. atsiko: “So, anybody have any thoughts on the ableism issue with Chirrut Imwe? A lot of folks I know who deal with disabilities have been talking about how much they dislike that character.”

    Given how much he was directly coded as a the classic ‘blind buddhist warrior monk’, I didn’t really have a problem with him. His outfit seemed to directly visually reference a Shaolin outfit (with the sash in particular), albeit with a different color scheme. Of course, I also don’t struggle with a physical disability. What aspects of the character do they find problematic?

  131. .Right on! And wait until it opens in China, soon the #1 film source and market.
    2 days to Winter… Winter is coming… dips below freezing outside the house, or furnace installed used in 1930 rattles and squeals but keeps us at 60 F at night. Will rise to 70 F outside here later today…

  132. @wizardru

    I’d argue that it being an archetype doesn’t make it any more acceptable. The character was originally not blind, but the actor wanted him to be more “distinctive”. I not sure following in the shoes of literally dozens of blind warrior monk archetypes really achieves that. It certainly makes the guy being blind sound like turning a disability into a gimmick, though.

    The argument, from a friend and her associates, with a great deal of experience with disability among them, who have seen the movie was that they did not like the portrayal of the blind character, they did not like that a seeing actor was cast in the role and that the actor insisted on making the character blind, and they did not feel it was a valuable addition to the media presentation of blind people, or disabled people more generally. They gave the example of the backlash against the recent Daredevil as a comparison, and said they had similar issues with this character.

    I can only elaborate on what the people I talked to said, as I haven’t seen the movie and am in the process of deciding whether I’d like to or not.

  133. Put me in the category of “fine with Tarkin, not fine with Leia”. I saw it in 3D (because a friend got the tickets), which always leaves me feeling a little cross-eyed, and I don’t tend to look at faces unless they’re focused on, anyway. Unfortunately, that made Leia’s face kind of like a jack-in-the-box for me: you know there’s a face there, but seeing it is still startling. I hadn’t realized initially that it wasn’t a lookalike, but it helps explain my reaction. I wish she hadn’t turned around.

    Beyond that, however, I’m philosophically opposed to the digital necromancy of dead actors… not because of any particular religious belief so much as because I don’t want theater to be dominated by ageless faces repeatedly reused as the actors who created them die. I think it’s similar to the argument someone made above about being against copyright because the mouse should be set free.

  134. Only the Leia CGI threw me; GMT was fine.

    I enjoyed all of the subtle easter eggs scattered through the movie. Perhaps my favorite was the call-out to the end of ‘Serenity’ with the last shot of K2-SO.

  135. Atsiko: “The argument, from a friend and her associates, with a great deal of experience with disability among them, who have seen the movie was that they did not like the portrayal of the blind character, they did not like that a seeing actor was cast in the role and that the actor insisted on making the character blind, and they did not feel it was a valuable addition to the media presentation of blind people, or disabled people more generally.”

    Ah, Gotcha. I just was curious what the problematic elements were. I wasn’t arguing that the archetype was right or wrong, merely that there was a trope that was being presented. I can certainly understand that perspective. In the case of Daredevil, I’m curious what they suggest be done to address their issues with that character short of not actually using him, but that’s not in the scope of this thread. If Donnie Yen specifically asked to make the character blind, I can see how that would read as an issue to actual people of disability, certainly.

  136. I was very pleased with this movie after walking out of the theater, but my attitude toward it has cooled in the days since. There are just too many wrong notes for me:

    – the senseless death of Jyn’s mother, who left her own daughter stranded and betrayed her existence to the Empire in order to run into the line of fire for her husband who was in less danger than she was

    – the shallow, unfeeling interactions between Jyn and Saw Gerrera, who may have had a deeper relationship in other Star Wars media, but in this film didn’t look like they’d spent more than an uncomfortable week waiting for a galactic social worker to show up and take her off his hands when Jyn was a kid

    – that GM Tarkin was somehow authorized to destroy not one but two of the Empire’s ground stations, one of which (Jedha) was admittedly no longer valuable and was a hive for criminals, but the other of which was a repository for the Empire’s most critical information and staffed entirely by loyal soldiers

    – that Cassian went from being a hardened field agent who could stab a contact in the stomach without blinking, to someone who hesitated to pull the trigger on a tiny, far-away target because it might have made a woman he hadn’t exchanged more than 30 words with unhappy, and we never got any good on-screen reason for the change of heart

    – the ticking-the-boxes pattern to the plot in the first 2/3s of the movie: find Jyn and get her to help the Rebels, check; find Gerrera and get him to help Jyn, check; find Galen Erso and get him to give Jyn the information he could have included in his original message to Gerrera since it’s apparently short enough for him to utter with his dying breath, check; go back home and get the Rebels to help Jyn and co. invade the bad guys’ lair — not check. At that point, the plot got interesting, and I did enjoy the final act, but up until then it was a slog. Like watching people doing a scavenger hunt where the clues just say “Go here next.”

    There were small technical things that bothered me, too, like the layout of the transmission tower, or the various customary physics flubs, or the blocking for the Force-choke scene having Vader’s body actor swerve to go around Krennic instead of forcing Krennic to get the hell out of Vader’s way, as people usually do when Vader walks past them. But those things, while they bothered me in the theater, don’t so much now; it was the plot logic that got worse over time, rather than better, and is now throwing me for a loop.

    I actually like to see filmmakers do cool things with CGI, so even though Tarkin’s and Leia’s faces were obviously CGI and Leia’s was in the valley for me, I appreciated their presence in the movie. That kind of stuff will get better over time, and Star Wars has always been pushing the CGI envelope for its time. I’m glad they included those.

    A few good things, so this isn’t an entirely negative post: K-2SO was charming, and it was refreshing not to have to watch a droid shamble around but be both intelligent and competent for once; I loved the side/villain plot about Tarkin sidelining Krennic and taking credit for his work; I appreciate how the movie dovetails with Episode IV and explains how the rebels figured out the Death Star’s great weakness.

    And I thought a lot of the third act was genuinely fun to watch, both in the “haha fun!” sense (Bodhi Rook, the pilot defector, added a lot of humor to the final battle scene) and in the cinematic sense (however unlikely the transmission tower was architecturally, watching the action happen on top of it was really cool).

    So a lot of what made me enjoy the movie in the theater continues to be truly enjoyable, but it isn’t a movie whose plot has survived 3 days of mulling, for me. The internal logic is just… not good, somehow.

  137. Tarkin destroying the base at Scarif was a bit much, from a logical point of view. But I try not to apply too much logic to Star Wars anyway. It isn’t really science fiction. It is fantasy, or a fairy tale. Think of the phrase at the beginning: A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…:. It might just as well have said “Once upon a time…”.
    There are too many absolutely ridiculous things that defy physics for me to think too logically about it all. So I just sit back and enjoy the adventure. So, both my wife and I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. We haven’t sat around and tried to analyze it too deeply. I think if you do, you end up with thoughts like Sara Powell just above.

  138. It was all right. I liked K2-SO, Bodhi, Baze, and Chirrut quite a lot, was only a bit put off by Tarkin (they should really have had less of his face onscreen). My only big gripe is that…it was kind of heavy on the white dudes in the background. That was something that TFA did a great job avoiding, so it was pretty jarring in this film that it took so long for us to see any female pilots and that the entire Rogue ground force appeared to be men (mostly white men, at that – offhand, I recall one black guy and the little alien fella with the big mouth). I’d love it if there were enough female characters that we could kill them off on par with the guys, frankly.

  139. I just got back from seeing it and really enjoyed it. I was a bit shocked by the ending with our heros blown away in a flash of light. I’d totally avoided spoilers, and I really did expect that at least they would survive.

    I haven’t had a whole lot of star wars exposure prior to the newest – I as the prequels when they came out when I was a kid, but didn’t see the originals until I was 17 or so, so the references mostly missed me. I did get to the scene on at the Imperial base when her father’s killed and expect it to be the end of the movie, but then we had to go back for meetings.

    I enjoyed the characters, but felt like Cassian and Jyn didn’t get enough time to develop an actual friendship – Jyn clearly cared when he fell in the tower, but it would have been easier for us to feel for her if it there’d been more there. It was definitely a movie of fully formed adults, but I didn’t really feel like the characters had space to breath – after the first use of the death star you’d think there’d be more shock then there was, likewise after Galen’s death.

  140. Eh, gonna weigh in on the whole “reactor weakpoint” thing touched on by docrocketscience and cartooncoyote.

    Yes, it makes sense that a reactor powering a planet-busting superweapon is going to involve prodigious amounts of energy, and that releasing planet-busting levels of energy inside the station is going to kill it, spectacularly. That isn’t the plot hole Rogue One paves over. The plot hole is that you can somehow cause this chain reaction so easily. If one little bitty torpedo can do it, so can an accident, or an infiltrator with a bomb and a death wish. That’s Chernobyl levels of bad engineering.

    My interpretation was that any sane engineer would have multiple safety systems to prevent catastrophic failure, and that R1 solves this by making the engineer in question a rebel sympathizer.

    Lets say there are five redundant systems you’d need to take out to cause the whole thing to go kablooie. They aren’t in the same place. *But* our heroic engineer designs it so they have a common single point of failure. Blow up this one spot and all hell breaks loose. The Achilles heel isn’t obvious unless either A) you’re a genius level engineer yourself or B) the guy who put the flaw there in the first place tells you where to look.

    That’s the chain reaction in question. The “lit fuse” mentioned in this movie. Hit *here* and the whole thing goes like a row of dominoes.

    In this interpretation, the exhaust port isn’t the Achilles heel itself, but rather just a chink in the armor. There were probably many spots you could slip a torpedo through, but they chose the best option. And the Empire doesn’t see the risk of having a chink in the armor in the first place, because they aren’t aware of the weakpoint. It isn’t until the Rebels are actively trying to shove a torpedo down the hole that they clue in, by which point it’s much too late.

    Also? If the exhaust port doesn’t itself matter, then Erso might have been expecting them to infiltrate the Death Star and plant a bomb. Say, by letting a freighter get captured, then sneaking in dressed as Stormtroopers. The fighter attack was a last ditch, one in a million plan that was only attempted when time ran out, and only worked because they had a latent Force user on hand.

  141. @wizardru, my misread, sorry.

    Not sure there’s anything they can do with daredevil given that he’s a well-established character with quite a history. Prolly a bit to late for Imwe, too, now.

    Sounding like I don’t need to rush out and see this movie. I was not very impressed with TFA, though there were a few specific parts I enjoyed, and this sounds like that plus even less appetizing. I was really looking forward to it, but I go to see so few movies in a year, I don’t wanna waste my motivation on something that’s so hit or miss with the audience.

    Thanks for the review, John, and thanks to the commenters for the useful discussion.

  142. I absolutely loved it. Loved loved loved it. I pre-watched it before bringing my 7-year old son, and figured it would be a bit too dark for him but he was SO excited I figured I’d give it a shot (plus we’d already bought the tickets)… And yeah, I was right. He’s usually sensitive to good guy characters dying in movies, particularly parents, and Jyn’s mother dying in the opening scene followed by her father dying later on, was enough for him to tell me he wanted to leave. I knew he wouldn’t be able to handle LITERALLY EVERYBODY ELSE dying by the end. :) We can revisit this when he’s a bit older.

  143. Oh, and also: I didn’t know that the actor who played Tarkin was dead IRL, but I TOTALLY could tell he was a CGI character when watching the movie.

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