Let’s make one thing clear; I enjoyed Rogue One. I thought it was an action-pack visual feast that deepened and enriched the Star Wars universe. I don’t regret a single penny of my movie ticket, and I’ll probably go see it again in theaters! I enjoyed it that much! I loved the visual effects, the actors were all charismatic and the action in the final battle was some of the best in the entire Star Wars franchise. But nothing is perfect, not even the original Star Wars movies. Rogue One suffers from the fact that it had a lot to do in a limited run time, some special effects that did not quite stick the landing and some small bits of discontinuity between it and the Original Trilogy. Without further ado, here are the 10 biggest flaws in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
The pacing was way too fast
In an interview with Roger Ebert, Hayao Miyazaki describes the concept of ma and how it relates to film. The interview reads: “[Miyazaki] clapped his hands three or four times. ‘The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it's just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.’" Rogue One lacks ma. We move from planet to planet, shove in important action and dialogue. There’s no breathing room to get to know the characters or the worlds their in. The Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens took a moment to have some quiet. Luke takes a moment to look out over the binary sunset on Tatooine. Rey eats outside of her AT-AT home, and the shot of her next to it shows how small she is compared to her environment. Rogue One does not have any of these little moments for the audience and characters to breathe.Advertisement
Jyn Erso is not as compelling as the other Star Wars leads
With Luke and Rey, we got insight into their daily lives and their personality when they weren’t saving the galaxy. As they did save the galaxy, we saw them grow and mature as people. Watching their characters develop is part of the reason the Original Trilogy and The Force Awakens were so captivating. We watch Luke go from a farm boy to a Jedi and Rey from a scavenger to a hero of the Resistance. But we never get that same sense with Jyn. The audience never gets a good grasp of her as a person. Since she’s carrying the movie, it’s a big misstep. Luckily, Felicity Jones is a good actress and can fill in the gaps that the script leaves. Jones can convey Jyn’s stubbornness by the way she sets her jaw, the way she moves her eyebrows. But it’s unfair that she had so little to work with. Perhaps this problem would have been solved if the writers had fixed the next problem on our list.
Saw and Jyn’s relationship is underdeveloped
When Jyn confronts Saw about abandoning her at age sixteen, it doesn’t really make an impact. The father-daughter relationship between Jyn and Saw is only told, never shown. If we had some scenes with them together when things were well, or if we had actually seen Saw abandon Jyn, the moment where she confronts him would have been a lot more compelling. Based on the footage in the trailer, a scene with a younger version of Saw Gerrera was filmed and had enough importance to be put in the trailer. So maybe a scene where he abandoned her was in the original cut, but we left out of the final version. Which is a shame, because Jyn calling out Saw could have been a great moment, but the lack of set up softens the gut-punch.
All the secondary characters are underdeveloped
This is the movie’s greatest sin. The tidbits we get about the secondary characters are very intriguing, but they never get fleshed out. We never learn why Bodhi decided to defect from the Empire. We don’t know why Chirrut Imwe has such faith or why Baze follows him to the ends of the galaxy. You have to watch the Clone Wars and the Rebels cartoons to learn anything about Saw. This is a shame, because the secondary characters are propped up with cool action scenes, costume designs and dialogue. The audience wants to know more about them, but there is simply not enough time to devote the attention to them that they deserve.
The CGI to recreate characters was obvious and distracting
This was probably critics biggest complaint about the movie. Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia’s digital recreations were too obvious and distracted from what’s going on around them. It raises the question; why have these characters in the film at all if they’re going to be distracting and stand out? Well it wouldn’t make sense for these characters not to be there, but it would have been easy enough not to show their faces. They could have been recast with real actors that resemble the characters, just like Mon Mothma’s actress was recast. Either solution would have been less distracting and lead to a higher quality film.
First two acts were lacking
Rogue One has one of the best third acts of any blockbuster out in these past few years. The action is tight, the pacing finally hits the right beats and the endings for all the characters will break your heart. And the sequence following the Death Star Plans as they go from Jyn’s transmission to Princess Leia’s hands is heart-stopping. Granted, this is a good change of pace from blockbusters that have solid first two thirds and then drop the ball in the third act. Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers all have this problem. But sitting in the theater, waiting for Rogue One to go from “pretty good” to “freaking awesome!” was a bit of a slog. Why couldn’t the first parts of the movie be as good as the ending? I think I’ll be skipping to the good bits when Rogue One comes out on DVD.
There was no opening crawl
What’s a Star Wars movie without an opening crawl? Every one of them from A New Hope to The Force Awakens has one, so what gives? Dan Perri, the creator of the opening of the original Star Wars, said “Frankly, it is a huge mistake, because the image is so iconic and it's so important to tens of millions, hundreds of millions of fans. I couldn't imagine it starting without that. It's foolish.” Wow, he really took the crew of Rogue One to task for not including the opening crawl. Personally, I thought the opening sequence was the text crawl. The scenes with young Jyn Erso gave us all the information and context we needed about the film, just like the text crawl does for the other movies. But putting those scenes into a text crawl would have had given the film more time and fixed some of the pacing problems discussed.
How does Darth Vader go from an ass-kicking Sith to a lumbering machine?
When we see Vader in Rogue One, he’s quick, cutting down rebels with terrifying ease. But in the Original Trilogy, he’s slow, lumbering and uses his intimidating presence rather than fancy tricks with a lightsaber to make an impression. Why couldn’t the writers have made Vader look and move like he did in the Original Trilogy. Okay, the answer is the special effects have improved and the crew can actually render Vader kicking rebel ass. But it would have been an interesting challenge for the crew to try and make Vader act and move like he did in the Original Trilogy, but be just as scary and impressive.
Why is there so much focus on Kyber crystals?
The fact that they power both lightsabers and the Death Star is neat, but that’s about it. It’s a neat little Star Wars factoid. Jyn doesn’t need to have a necklace with one on it. There’s literally nothing special about it. She never uses it at any point during the course of the movie. It doesn’t cut through anything in the nick of time. She doesn’t draw Force powers from it. It doesn’t contain secret Imperial codes that the team of scrappy rebels use later. She doesn’t even look at it to remind her of her mother who gave it to her. The time focused on Jyn’s crystal could have been used to focus on her as a character, or one one of the supporting characters. Even though it’s just a little time on the kyber crystals, that time counts. Every second of film conveys information about the plot, character or even adds a little bit of ma. Knowing Jyn has a kyber crystal was a waste of time.
The Rebels are hypocrites!
At the beginning of the movie, the Rebels “rescue” Jyn. Rescue goes in quotations because she doesn’t exactly go with them willingly. After that, the grill her over her past crimes, none of which are violent. None of them seem to be aware of the fact that everyone in the room is a criminal. Even if they have never committed a violent act, all of them are guilty of treason against the Empire. Cassian Andor, one of the Rebellion’s most trusted operatives, murders a man on screen! So why does the Rebellion give a crap if Jyn’s a criminal. If their definition of untrustworthy is “has committed a crime” then none of them can be trusted.