Rogue One is a rousing and flawed entry into the Star Wars canon: Spoiler Discussion

In case the title doesn’t make it clear enough, this entry will have heavy spoilers where I discuss specific plot points and reveals from Rogue One. If you have not seen the film or wish to remain unspoiled, check out my (largely) spoiler-free review.

  • Let’s talk Darth Vader (James Earl Jones). His time in this film is essentially an extended cameo, holding just two scenes. However, this is earnestly the best he’s been since Empire and I might even say the original Star Wars. This film remembers the mythic power and the fear that Darth Vader can inspire.
    • The first scene between him and Krennic definitely has shades of some of his initial confrontations during Death Star meetings in Star Wars, a man who is too powerful to be interested in the games of politics. Mendelsohn sells the hell out of these scenes, the fear that comes on his face when Vader makes his grand entrance and the way he grovels. Remembering that Vader is a force that made the other Imperials terrified is a good move. Plus, they gave him a castle!
    • Because it sets up the second scene which is one of my favorites in the whole film and one of my favorites in the whole series. We never got a chance (largely due to tech limitations) to see how powerful Darth Vader was and the sheer intimidation he was capable of. The second scene is the film’s final action sequence and it treats Vader like a horror movie villain, bathed in shadows and lit only by the blood-red of his lightsaber. He mows through Rebel soldiers like paper, just barely missing the Death Star plans. It’s a tense and actually scary sequence, something we’ve not seen out of this series and out of Vader.
  • I know it had to be done, part of tying up possible loose ends. But what’s the last major blockbuster we saw ending in the deaths of every character it introduced? It’s an impressive move as a franchise decision to not even let one of them make it out for later films.
  • Which really goes into what this film is about. What this war must have felt like, what it must have been like to be on the ground, dwarfed by galaxies and grand political systems. The symbol of the seeming inevitability of defeat and the very idea of fighting back against it. The fact that so much death had to happen to get to that ultimate victory recontextualizes the myth which is unique in and of itself.
  • The cameo stuff didn’t so much fly. The appearance of Pon de Baba and Pig Nose (I know he has a real name, deal) and C-3PO and R2D2 grinds the film to a halt when they appear, even for a brief second as we’re going through much more important sequences.
  • There is also a cameo from young Leia (Carrie Fisher). The effect is brief, so it works much better, more along the lines of the de-aging of RDJ in Civil War or Michael Douglas in Ant-Man. Plus, Carrie Fisher isn’t dead, so we’re not parading her digitally reanimated body like one of those ghoulish Victorian memorial photographs.
  • There are large large chunks of the trailer that are nowhere near this film. Like, I can see where things were altered at points, I’m curious what this was originally supposed to be. Screencrush has some theories.
  • WHAT THE HELL WAS FORREST WHITAKER DOING?
    • SAVE THE REBELLION. save the dream.”
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