I saw Rogue One the other day. It was…ok. Thanks to the wonders of IMAX© technology, I spent altogether too much time wondering what the hell was wrong with Darth Vader’s neckpiece. Did they use CG reanimation for any other humans besides Tarkin and Leia? Because those two completely took me on a run down the Uncanny Trench. Of course, because I knew that they weren’t real, I was probably being overly picky and looking for imperfections, but those dead eyes were just. so. dead. Even with Tarkin, who is supposed to be unsettling. Just. So. Dead.
But even with the actual live characters, I had very little sympathy. It was like a bunch of wood blocks running around Forest Whitaker and Donny Yen. “Wait! Why are you leaving me behind?” Whitaker might as well say when they flee the Necessary Plot Point/Explosion.
“As a black actor in Hollywood you really should know this trope!” They shout back at him from the escaping spaceship. “Otherwise nobody would believe that it’s 1977!”
“Oh…” replies Whitaker, and sighs, thinking, you all gonna die anyway.
So they all die. I kind of knew this going in, and it depressed me, but it wasn’t just that: If they had started out with a scene from the time of Episode IV or later, a la the beginning of Lawrence of Arabia, it would have made the audience accept this from the beginning and proceed without that nagging thought throughout the film, e.g. “Are they really all going to die? Every single one? Maybe someone won’t die. Let’s see…nope, they all died. Oh, well.”
It was a fascinating concept, and an excellent idea. I would have liked to have seen the story, but it was hidden behind explosions of bad writing (and actual explosions). Perhaps the writers were also thinking: Well, they’re all going to die. We can’t have the audience actually identify with them, so we’ll have them run around the plot for a little bit, smother everything with luscious, shivery familiar music and scenery to take them back to the good old days, and INSERT STEP TWO HERE (Note: This means explosions)…and Win!
For the record, I loved The Force Awakens. I cried like a baby in the theater; I saw it twice. Even though I’m still pissed that Leia completely ignored Chewbacca’s suffering after Han died, I was actually interested in the characters and where they were going. Perhaps the Star Wars writers should take a note from this: Make us interested in where the characters are going more than where they’ve been. Episodes I-III were about where Anakin had been…turns out we really didn’t want to know. We don’t want spoilers. Heaven forbid! But we at least need stories that make us want to cover our ears when a friend start out with, “So I saw…”