Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a pretty good movie. If you took the words “A Star Wars Story” away from the title, it could still stand alone as a high-quality fantasy/adventure movie. In compiling this list we don’t want anybody to think it’s not a good movie. It will probably win Academy Awards for visual effects. That said, it’s not a great movie. It’s like the later films in the Terminator or Mad Max (not the remake) series. They’re OK.
Rogue One enters an area for the Star Wars franchise never seen before. They have decided to move away from the three trilogies we all know Star Wars to be. Episodes 4, 5 and 6 (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) were released first, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Episodes 1, 2 and 3 (The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, Return of the Sith) were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Episode 7 (The Force Awakens) came during the Christmas season of 2015. Episodes 8 and 9 will come out in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Fans were curious to find out when Rogue One would take place, or if it would have nothing to do with the nine episodes. As it turns out, it throws itself into the middle of things.
In throwing itself into the middle of things and being slightly inferior both in execution and eliciting fan excitement, Rogue One is like that one ingredient you put into a soup that you know will either enhance the flavor or ruin the whole thing. For us, Rogue One is like cilantro. It gives the whole soup a bitter aftertaste and Rogue One does that for the Star Wars franchise. We hope that it doesn’t harm the movies yet to come, but we’re not optimistic. Here are 15 Reasons Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will kill the franchise.
15. It’s not actually a standalone movie
They’ll tell you that Rogue One is its own movie separate from the triple-trilogy we’ve come to know from the franchise. It’s not true. Rogue One is simply Episode 3.5, transitioning between the final scenes in Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. This means that over the last 40 years, we’ve been presented the episodes to-date as 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 7, 3.5. It’s certainly a jumble that would make Quentin Tarantino proud. Once the Rogue One plot gets going, any Star Wars fan can tell you exactly what’s going to happen since Episode 4 already gave everything away. It’s not a big deal, but pretending Rogue One is its own film is misdirection. Lying to fans is not a way to keep them in your good graces, especially those who perhaps aren’t as invested in the series as others.
14. Visual tricks have gone overboard
In the final scene of Rogue One, a 20-year-old Carrie Fisher takes the plans for the Death Star and announces they now have hope. Forget for a moment the tragedy of losing Fisher as this film is in theaters, it feels fake rejiggering old footage into a new movie. We all know this movie came out in 2016, yet Carrie Fisher is not 20 anymore. Peter Cushing, who played Grand Moff Tarkin in Episode 4 is back, 22 years after his death. It’s one thing to use visual effects to create creatures that don’t exist. It’s another to use them to exhume actors from the dead. Why hire any actors for the future Star Wars films? Let’s go back and learn about Han Solo before he ran into Luke Skywalker, all with CGI. Following Fisher’s death, everybody wondered how they would address it in Episode 9. No reason. Just bring her back from the dead.
13. All of the good guys die
In the Star Wars movies, the formula is simple. One good guy dies per film, be it Obi Wan Kenobi in Episode 4 or Han Solo in Episode 7. It gives us a moment to realize bad things can happen to our heroes and we can’t take their mortality for granted. Even if you weren’t well-versed in the events of Episode 4, it doesn’t take too long to get into Rogue One before you realize that while the rebels would probably get the plans, the cost would be genocidal. Every single protagonist in Rogue One dies. It’s a fascinating departure from the norm, but it leaves a hollow feeling walking out of the theater. It’s like, “I already know they get the plans, but I wasn’t positive they’d all end up dead.” If Rogue One is your entry to the Star Wars world, ending on such a downer may not be the way to fall in love with the series.
12. The cameos are cheesy
Aside from the fact the story fits neatly into the pre-existing Star Wars world, Rogue One couldn’t have been a standalone movie simply because of the cameos. We don’t consider Peter Cushing’s ghost as a cameo since it’s a major character. We’re talking about Princess Leia, Darth Vader, R2-D2 and C3PO. The most egregious are the droids, who appear for about five seconds with C3PO getting one line in. It was completely unnecessary. Vader could have been a larger figure in the movie, but the filmmakers seem to think his two minutes of total screen time serves its purpose. Yes, there’s a moment of nostalgia seeing these familiar characters, especially a young Leia, but when you have to resort to gimmicks like this, it shows that the filmmakers were worried it couldn’t stand on its own with a different cast.
11. Are teenage boys buying into the female leads?
Star Wars audiences are decidedly male. There’s really no debate in this and it goes back to Episode 4’s release in 1977. Yes, there are girls who like the series just as much as any guy, but they are few and far between, even when you look at groups entering the theater these days. Despite 2015’s Episode 7 (featuring Daisy Ridley, seen above) and 2016’s Rogue One (Episode 3.5) theoretically taking place decades apart, the last two Star Wars movies have female leads. Are 14-year-old boys these days any different than the ones who packed the theaters 30 years ago? We think it’s great to show strong female leads and the franchise has certainly come a long way since the Leia gold bikini in Return of the Jedi, but does having a female lead hurt the interest of the male audience? Does it bring in a new female audience? Maybe we’ll get our answer when Episode 8 is released at the end of 2018.
10. Overuse of known celebrities
Most Star Wars fans generally agree episodes 1 and 2, The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, respectively, were the weakest in the series. At least we can say Rogue One was better than those two dogs. One of the reasons we were never able to make a connection was because we saw the faces of Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen and Ewan McGregor, not entirely new people like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were in the first. Yes, Ford went on to be a huge star, but Star Wars was where most of us first got to know him. Rogue One goes back to this, using Forest Whitaker in the key role of Saw Gerrera. He’s good, but it’s still Forest Whitaker, the guy from The Butler, The Crying Game, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and 30 other movies. We already know him and Star Wars works best as escapism when we don’t know the actors from other projects.
9. The script isn’t that great
We don’t want to turn this into a movie review, but the actual story of Rogue One isn’t very complex, and that’s factoring in the simple plots of the other Star Wars films. “We need to find my dad. My dad died. My dad told me where the Death Star plans are. Let’s go get them.” That’s it. That’s the movie. You learn next to nothing about the lead character and nothing about any of the secondary characters. Luke and Leia’s backgrounds were what Episodes 4-6 were built on and even by the end of Episode 4 we know far more about than anybody in the Rogue One cast. Sure, it doesn’t matter in the long run because they all die, but there’s no reason to care for our hero, Jyn Erso because aside from losing her parents and her dad dying in her arms, we don’t know very much about her. If we’re supposed to care because she’s cute, mission accomplished. If we’re supposed to care because of who she is, the script never really explains anything about who she is or her motivation in life.
8. The movie has too many jokes
Anthony Daniels was the perfect person to play C3PO because an angst-ridden droid with a British accent is funny, no matter what the robot is saying. It also helps that C3PO’s face looks like it’s in a constant state of shock. Since those first few episodes introduced to a robot with anxiety programmed in millions of languages, filmmakers with Star Wars continue to try to have “funny” robots. In Rogue One, we get C3PO meets Chewbacca in the form of K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk, easily the most over-the-top droid existing merely for comic relief. Han Solo would also toss out the occasional sarcastic comment, but Rogue One tries to get every character a turn at being the funny one. We don’t need an action/adventure movie set in space to be full of jokes. It hurts the film. It hurts the franchise.
7. No sense of real excitement in fans
People were glad the new Star Wars movie was coming out, but did anybody look forward to it for years and years the way they have with the other episodes? No, but it might be because they sold it as a standalone story when it was actually very much a part of the story we all know. It was the best opening week movie box-office wise in 2016 with $222 million which is obviously amazing, but compare it to the opening weekend for Episode 7, which opened in 2015 with $390 million. They’re both big numbers, but it’s a huge difference. If you compare week-to-week numbers, it also pales by comparison to the recent films in the franchise. By its third week in theaters, it was clear it wasn’t going to catch up to Finding Dory for the highest grossing film of 2016. It’s doing well, but it’s not an event. Has Rogue One diluted the Star Wars franchise from ever producing an off-the-charts anticipated film again?
6. Rogue One shows the series may never end
There was something comforting about knowing Star Wars was going to be nine movies. George Lucas said it would from the very beginning, although just how much he had actually planned out plots is still up for debate. With the introduction of Rogue One, we now have an Episode 3.5, which means there could be an episode 1.5, 4.5 or 6.5. Heck, we could now have Epsiode 3.25 or episode 3.75. With the CGI back-from-the dead and back from 1977 special effects, we could be looking at dozens of films in the series. People like closure. We see closure on the horizon with Episode 9 in 2019. Now, we’re not so sure. If they can just keep making movies, should we care as much? Will we care as much? The first Saw was good. So was Paranormal Activity, Police Academy and Halloween. Then they made 10 more of each and now nobody cares. This could happen to Star Wars.
5. The names are getting ridiculous
Remember back when Han Solo seemed like a crazy name for a character? Remember when we had names people might actually be called, like Luke? Well, Rogue One continues the recent spate of Star Wars movies in feeling that the only way to convince moviegoers that these characters aren’t from Earth is to simply put a bunch of letters together. Why did they need to call Felicity Jones by the name of Jyn when Jen would have sufficed? Daisy Ridley is Rey. It’s close to Ray, which is actually a name. Maybe they just take a real name and change the middle initial. Bob becomes Beb. Tom becomes Tum. The leader of the Senate is named Mon. She’s the leader. The caretaker. Mon sure is close to Mom. It’s not just Rogue One. The antagonist from The Force Awakens is Kylo because in space, nobody is named Kyle. It’s easier to remember normal names. When you’re talking to friends about the film now it’s just “That girl” or “That guy who…” It doesn’t help the franchise, it hurts it.
4. Feels like a cash grab
If you were a kid in the mid-1980s, sometime between a year before Episode 5 came out and a year after 6, you know there was an entire aisle at the toy store devoted just to Star Wars toys. And there were Star Wars Happy Meals and T-shirts and anything else you could put a picture of Darth Vader on. George Lucas redefined merchandising and every episode has made a ton of money in licensing and merchandising. Between giving us a story we didn’t need to know to drive ticket buyers to the theater and all of the new corporate tie-ins, the hype around Rogue One seems more about the money and less about the art. Hey, money is what makes the world go around, we get it. But, could this possibly mean the hype of importance has been lost to one of money? The filmmakers probably don’t care, but the Star Wars fans may.
3. Introduces too many new characters into the world of Star Wars
Aside from a handful of cameos and a couple of CGI ghosts reprising their roles, the entire character list from Rogue One is new to the Star Wars world. According to IMDb.com, there are now 76 characters in the Star Wars movies who have at least one minute of screen time and speak in the eight movies in the series. That’s not including all of the periphery characters who had less than a minute of screen time, of which there are many. Films work when you care about the characters. We care about Luke and Leia because we see them grow from babies to old people, even if a bit out of order. Rogue One does nothing to advance the story of the characters we know and with the doomsday ending, completely ends the storyline of the others. It’s just another list of people whom we’re supposed to remember and it’s getting annoying.
2. Is Christmas now all about Star Wars?
Christmas used to be about movies vying for Academy Awards being released in time to qualify and then trying to find a theater playing these little films that will be critically acclaimed. Not a problem with Star Wars films, especially since Rogue One opened in around 4,000 theaters. Aside from the award contenders, we have a lot of time on our hands and simply catch more movies than we would at other times of year. Star Wars owned the box office with Episode 7 in 2015. Rogue One will be a Top 5 grossing movie for 2016 and it came out at Christmas. In 2017, we’ve got Episode 8 and in 2019, Episode 9. That’s four out of five years with a Christmastime release of a Star Wars film. If it dominates the box office every year, wouldn’t that lead other studios to not release good mainstream movies at that time? What if they do, and what if moviegoers catch on? What if another half-dozen “standalones” are planned in the next 10 years? Will audiences turn on Star Wars if it tries to own the Christmas box office?
1. It’s simply too much of a good thing
Despite all of our bellyaching, we still really enjoyed Rogue One. It’s a great movie and it needs at least Episode 4 to give it context and importance. That said, we also like chocolate cake. We like more than one piece of chocolate cake. We’ve noticed something about cake, or anything we like. One of the reasons we like it is because it’s special. Head out to the supermarket and go to the freezer section and pick yourself up four Pepperidge Farm chocolate cakes. Eat one-quarter of each cake for dessert after dinner. We bet by day six you’ll want to stop and when the experiment is one on day 16, it will be years until you eat chocolate cake again. Rogue One simply did not need to be made. It was nice to get a little hit of that Star Wars magic in between traditional episodes but it was like having an extra piece of cake. We can’t have too many more or the magic of Star Wars will end because we’ll simply have overindulged.