The boys at Red Letter Media were not very kind to this film in their last couple of videos. I normally greatly respect the work of the Red Letter Media guys whether I agree with them or not. This time it felt like they’re attitude was that fan boys are stupid who will like anything with a Star Wars logo on it. I can understand their irritation with fan boys, especially Star Wars fans giving how crazy they get, but I felt like they were letting that aspect of the films production prevent them from enjoying this film. I kindof felt they were coming off a little bit like film snobs. Needless to say I disagree with Red Letter Media’s members, one of which is pictured here jerking off a droid. But let me go on to prove them right by stating that not only did I enjoy this film but I personally feel this is the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back. And I don’t make that call lightly.
What I liked about Star Wars Rogue One is it felt nothing like a Star Wars movie. It felt like a gritty dark war story that just so happened to be set in the Star Wars Universe. The entire film has a lived in gritty film that reminds me of classic 80s science fiction films such as Enemy Mine or the earlier Aliens movies as well the Heavy Metal comics and movies. We follow a group of bitter and desperate soldiers and adventures as they go on a quest to retrieve the Death Star plans and save the Rebel Alliance. For once, the primary leads are not god damn jedi or force users or whatever. It’s a reluctant but heroic miserable space mercenary and criminal who really is just trying to find her dad and is willing to play hero for the Rebels to help her find him. Our male lead is a hardened rebel intelligence agent who when first meet him is forced to gun down an innocent informant just to keep him from panicking and giving away his position to stormtroopers. It was a nice dark gray area that informed the character and his conflict with Jyn. I have never seen Star Wars handle well on the big screen before except maybe when Han shot Greedo and we all know how George fucked that up. The entire film felt like a good Dungeons and Dragons game where a team ragged tag adventures all stumble together and then go on an exciting adventure together and for me that’s what it was. The finally action scene was awesome and great to see. But I think what I liked the most the downer ending. There is scene where the group is heading to Scarif to get the plans and they all look up with this worried expression on their faces because they know they’re not all going to make it out of this adventure alive. It’s a beautiful scene and it reminds me of a similar scene in Seven Samurai where the samurai are sitting around preparing for the bandits’ attack. I thought that was really cool; it feels like Star Wars has come full circle seeing as how Kurosawa was an inspiration for George Lucas when he first made Star Wars. I loved the action scene at the end. It was great to see this big heavy action scene Imperial Walkers and Chicken Walkers again especially with X-wing air support. And you had Alan Tudyk as a sarcastic robot. What’s not to like?
For me, Donnie Yen stole the show as Chirrut Imwe. He was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen: a charismatic blind jedi ninja master who can use the Force to see and beat the crap out of stormtroopers with his walking stick. Again never seen that kindof character in a Star Wars movie before. We came close with Darth Maul and a lot of the newer lightsaber combat from the prequels. I liked his gun toting buddy Baze Malbus. I thought they were a cool badass duo. I even liked Bodhi Rook the imperial cargo pilot who joined the group. He struck me as just an ordinary guy who is just trying to live his life and make ends meet but he’s caught up in the war. He’s not a bad person and he doesn’t like the empire or what they do but he has no choice but to work for them and deep down he feels guilt for supporting them and this adventure gave him the opportunity to make things right and oppose them. I felt it was an exciting, fun, dark sci fi adventure movie that in tone and them carried some of the heaviest and most satisfying drama that I have not seen since Return of the Jedi.
Some fans have complained about fan service in the movie. There are a couple of moments where we get guest appearances by series favorites. While I can see it as pandering, it didn’t bother me. It was nice to see a lot of those classic characters as cameo. Darth Vader in particular towards the end of the film was amazing and utterly terrifying. Also, there’s a bit of a uproar about the use of CGI to make Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Leia. In the case of Tarkin, there’s no other way they could have had the character make an appearance given that Peter Cushing passed away many years ago. Personally I thought it was nice to see the characters again, especially in light of Carrie Fisher’s recent passing.
To address Red Letter Media’s criticism with the movie, I don’t feel they gave this movie a fair chance. I’m Jay Bauman’s comment particularly stating that the characters were flat, lifeless, and boring. I point to everything I said above about the main characters and ask did we see the same movie. This disappoints me especially since I do respect Jay’s taste in fill a lot and I’m surprised that such an intelligent film goer could not see what I had seen in the film and wonder why he will say that a piece of shit like Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is so great but this isn’t. I guess I don’t know if I were a filmmaker how to impress someone like Jay. He likes the Marvel movies, the Mad Max films, a lot of artsy stuff like Eraserhead, and of course schlocky B movies but not this. I don’t get it. What is this movie doing wrong compared to all of those films? And how do you keep Jay Bauman invested in your movie? I sure as hell don’t know.
I think at the heart of Red Letter Media’s criticism is they don’t like Disney taking the Star Wars license and using the Marvel formula on them. In their review of Force Awakens, the Mr. Plinket character complains that Star Wars as well as modern films in general have become like a factory and are no longer made with the time and care in which films were crafted in previous generations. I can understand and appreciate that view point. But I disagree with it. And to speak for the fan boys who they trashed at the beginning of their review for a minute, I have to say that people love these stories and they want to see more of them. We love the originals and when we are done watching the film we are left wanting more. And we want to see more. So guess what? Hollywood’s giving us more. And Disney taking a cue from the comic book industry as developed a nearly perfect system for making that happen. I think their stance is a little hypocritical given that in the 80s the by gone era they remember fondly we would get a new Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th every couple of years. And that was awesome and something to look forward too. And they did it write because they struck when the iron was hot. And when you don’t do that, you run the risk of something like Ghostbusters 2016, where we waited 30 years for a new Ghostbusters adventure only to get a Bridesmaid’s reunion and a bunch of unnecessary drama on the internet from everyone involved. Furthermore while respect the artistic sensibilities of Red Letter Media, I see nothing wrong with art working hand in hand with business. The Harlem Renaissance was an era in which art and business shared the same bed. Great art was produced and money was made. There is nothing wrong with this.
I made these statements know in the comments of Red Letter Media’s Rogue One review, and one of their fans accused me of prefering quantity over quality. I responded by saying why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have a really good Star Wars movie or any movie in a franchise for that matter every couple of years and have it be good? As far as I’m concerned there is no reason we can’t other than shoddy film making. Quality control is where the issue lies. But as far as I’m concerned I saw a quality film. So let’s worry about fixing Ghostbusters and DC Comics before we star complaining about Star Wars.
But as myself and my friends have observed complaining is the in thing to do o the internet these and I guess I’m guilty of it too. In terms of Star Wars I think Scott Mosier pointed it out first on the Clerks 2 DVD. He observed that Star Wars got all stupid and nuts when the prequels came out. They started publically playing with their lightsabers and dressing up like stormtroopers and making fools of themselves all because they were hyped for the Phantom Menace. And the movie comes out and there’s all this initial praise and the two weeks later they start complaining about the movie, bitching about what it is. And same circus happened for Force Awakens as well and you can pick that movie apart just as easily as you can any of the prequels. So I’m a little sick of seeing nerds publically wank off too or hate on Star Wars. However, the recent films do have their flaws. Everything anybody has ever said about the prequels is absolutely right. Personally I still like them for what they are. And as much as I loved Force Awakens I was not completely sold on it. It is beat for beat, story point for story point the original Star Wars movie just with different characters. Rogue One was the first one in a long time that really impressed me. It was a different type of story and a different vision in the Star Wars Universe. It was a fresh adventure that prove that we can have regular fun Star Wars stories every couple of years. There has been so many comics, novels, games, roleplaying games and other Star Wars media that people love and would make great movie. I remember when the Shadows Of the Empire comics were coming out and me and my friends were saying to ourselves “This should be a Star Wars movies.” Here’s our opportunity to make that dream come to life. And that can be done with tons of other franchise too if done right. I’m sorry the Red Letter Media boys can’s see that but I respect their opinion. But me personally I feel it’s a great time to be alive and a nerd.
In the end did we need a movie explaining how the Rebel Alliance got the Death Star plans? Probably not. But I’m glad we got one. I’m glad we have an opportunity to explore the Star Wars Universe further to make great movies and other works for many years to come. Just like Princess Leia, I found hope in this movie for a better tomorrow.
Edward “Dreadpirate” Peeler