What if they made a great Star Wars movie and nobody noticed or cared?

by on December 16, 2016 at 2:39 pm in Film, Uncategorized | Permalink

That is how I felt watching Rogue One, which the audience seemed largely indifferent to.  But contrary to what many of the reviews suggest, the plot is not especially muddled, the drama is legitimate, and the ending more than satisfactory.  The visuals are spectacular, with the digital work supplemented by on-site filming in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Iceland, and the Maldives.  If you have a good memory for visual images, you will notice many parallels, including homages to Kurosawa and a number of classic war movies.  From the Star Wars franchise itself, episodes 1-3 are treated as iconic as are 4-6.  It’s much more of a Star Wars movie than the marketing has been letting on, and indeed this is the real Star Wars movie that many of you have been waiting for.  (Maybe the worse the “sequence” movies get, the better the “knock-offs” become, a’la Frank Ramsey, a nice trick they are playing here.)  It’s not perfect, but had they made this instead of Return of the Jedi, at the time I would have been “happy enough.”

rogue-one-31

1 8 December 16, 2016 at 2:48 pm

A better question is how did Disney destroy the Star Wars inside of 4 years? Hint: ESPN.

2 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm

‘Destroy’ like how, raking in billions and generating huge buzz and locking in new generations of kids? Destroy like that?

3 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Disney will probally end up destroying ESPN but so far they’ve done pretty masterfully with Star Wars. As a business enterprise haven’t seen the movies. In fact I’ve only seen the First Old Star Wars and the third Ewan McGregor Star Wars movie.

4 Careless December 16, 2016 at 5:21 pm

They’ve owned ESPN for 21 years. Any day now, I guess

5 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 5:30 pm

ESPN has had a significant drop in ratings recently, so much that it’s weighing on Disney’s stock price. It may be out of their hands, with cord cutting and so on.

6 Jeff R. December 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

Also worth noting that the drop in the NFL’s ratings has hurt them, too, since they broadcast NFL games. Not really their fault the NFL hasn’t been as fun to watch in recent years, since they have no control over the product the NFL licenses to them.

But the real issue here is that The Force Awakens sucked and the odds are Disney will, in fact, suck the franchise dry and continue to film its bloated, rotting corpse. That said, if Rogue Whatever happens to be any good at all, I would be pleased to hear it.

7 Brian Donohue December 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm

I thought I heard the Disney Star Wars business model was to make one movie a year until people stop showing up.

8 Josh December 16, 2016 at 11:25 pm

There hasn’t been a good Star Wars movie in thirty five years. Only two of five pre Disney movies weren’t terrible. If there is anything decent done with the source material, disney did the fanboys a service.

9 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 6:23 pm

I like how you took the time to look up how long Disney has owned ESPN, but didn’t take a quick peak at ESPN’s rating trends.

10 Ray Lopez December 16, 2016 at 5:44 pm

@Sam Fulsome – cool story dude.

11 Brian B. Kim December 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

“1-3 are treated as iconic as are 4-6”

Yes, 7 was bad. Very disappointing. As I think Tyler once suggested regarding saving time and sunk costs, I should have walked out before the end.

12 JWatts December 16, 2016 at 4:50 pm

I have mixed feelings about 7. I thought the plot line (at least in broad strokes) was good and the special effects and settings were excellent. The writing was a little uneven, but still it was decent.

The items I liked least was that the main character was (in my opinion) a Mary Sue. She went from a character comparable to Luke Skywalker in the original movie and in a ridiculously short period of time she was as powerful as a full Jedi.

13 A Definite Beta Guy December 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Rey was a Mary Sue but hopefully she’ll get nerfed in the next installment. I am optimistic.

14 Alex December 16, 2016 at 8:41 pm

It boggles my mind how anyone one outside of a mental institution could reason that episode 7 wasn’t a better, more star-warsy movie than those from 1-3. Especially episode 1 was by far the worst. Between the parts that seemed to be aimed at 5 year olds only and those parts that deluged Into the exiting details of made-up-universe’s-interstellar-political-system the nail in the coffin has a name that could easily be the most used darkroom passphrase ever: Jar Jar Binks.

15 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 8:52 pm

+1, but there are some good moments even in the first prequel, like the Darth Maul vs 2 Jedi lightsaber battle

16 Daniel Weber December 17, 2016 at 11:28 am

If you had two Jedi, why would you both physically attack one Sith? Have one physically attack him to occupy him, while the other telepathically scans him to figure out his intentions and identity. Which was the whole point of engaging him anyway. They didn’t want him dead.

Still a nice scene. And I think Episode 1, for all its problems, is the most watchable of 1-3.

17 M December 17, 2016 at 3:45 am

Episode 1 is sort of an icon of badness. Fairly or not. It was an effort to be original.

7 could never be an icon, either for good or bad, because it’s a total clone. Enjoyed it, totally uniconic.

18 collin December 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm

From the Star Wars franchise itself, episodes 1-3 are treated as iconic as are 4-6.

??????? Who is suggesting episode 1 – 3 they are iconic as 4 – 6? I thought the view was of episode one is continues to be one of the Thuds misfire of film history, episode 2 was modestly better and episode 3 even slightly better. We only watch this crap in connection with the quality of early movies but they pure shit without the Star Wars name on them.

19 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 4:08 pm

And I say they are great films about fear, greed, power and war. In fact, they are reminiscent of Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato’s writings and speeches about the Brazilian experience during Doctor Vargas’ Fascist regime from the late 30’s to the mid 40’s. Onw can argue the three Star Wars sequels are the greatest Brazilian movies (or at least the greatest movies about Brazil) since O Pagador de Promessas in the early 60’s.

20 Thor December 16, 2016 at 4:19 pm

“And I say they are great films about fear, greed, power and war.”

Yeah, so what you are saying is that they are about universal aspects of human nature (or, cross cultural invariants that prompt or promote specific behaviours)? I agree.

And they are about Brazil? Fascinating! Let me recommend a novel to you: Pale Fire. It deals nicely with fantasies of about-ness, much in the way that the brilliant, incomparable ARGENTINE Lionel Mes— sorry, I mean Jorge Luis Borges deals with Don Quixote.

21 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm

Not just “movies about”, but “among the greatest movies ever made about”. “And they are about Brazil?” Not only, of course, but mostly. As Mr. Stefan Zweig, whom we saved from the Nazi hordes as we did for so many Jews unlike other American… countries, pointed out, Brazil is the country of the future. All Western culture is a footnote to Brazilian History. As Mr.Bandarra proved with his writings, a grieving world expects its liberation from and by Brazil.

22 anon December 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Where is this Brazil located at again? Is it a Russian province?

23 Brian Donohue December 16, 2016 at 5:47 pm

I saw ‘Brazil’. The one with the Monty Python guy, I think. Much different from what I imagined.

24 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 5:59 pm

South America. It is the country “shaped like a big heart”, as a famous Brazilian anthem says.

25 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 6:02 pm

The movie was not inspired in the country Brazil, but in the Brazilian music, as Mr. Terry Gilliam (when was he rescued from the desert island they named after him?)

26 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 6:03 pm

* famously explained.

27 Kronrod December 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

> From the Star Wars franchise itself, episodes 1-3 are treated as iconic as are 4-6.

Episode 1 iconic? It is by far the worst Star Wars movie ever. See:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI

Episode 7 and the latest episode 3.5 are not very bold, but good entertainment and technically well done. In particular, the story of episode 7 makes more sense than most others. It even helps explaining a big hole in the story of the first Star Wars movie, namely the question why the empire was stupid enough to provide the death star with an Achilles heel.

28 Careless December 16, 2016 at 5:34 pm

I’m wondering if he meant canon

29 Todd K December 16, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Yes. These things happen when your vocabulary is as large as Tyler’s.

30 Thiago Ribeiro December 16, 2016 at 7:05 pm

I think he means they are as worth to be alluded to as the original movies.

31 A Definite Beta Guy December 17, 2016 at 3:17 pm

Yes. They are cultural icons, as in weaved into our culture. I really can’t agree…”Duel of the Fates” and the accompanying fight scene was the only real “iconic” thing out of the Prequels, along with young Obi-Wan Kenobi in general. I don’t see anything else reaching Cultural Icon status.

Ain’t no “Rosebuds.”

32 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly December 16, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I thought Tyler was saying that Rogue One draws on the prequels–acknowledging their canonicity and impact on the story–as much as it does the original saga.

33 Ronald Brak December 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm

I’m trying to remember what was in the movie that references the prequels. We saw a bit of lava in Rogue One and there was some lava in the prequels… that’s all I’ve got at the moment.

34 Chris s December 16, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Maybe I missed it, but other than EP 1 I don’t recall a reference to the force having a physical manifestation until now, with the kyber Krystal’s or whatever.

35 Ronald Brak December 16, 2016 at 8:27 pm

We are told kyber crystals are used in Jedi light sabres and the Death Star’s planet destroying weapon. That makes them seem like a very powerful, but otherwise mundane, energy source, rather than something mystical.

36 Jan December 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

Yeah, I am fine with kyber powering the death star, but I think saying that it powers Jedi light sabers takes away from the mystique of the force.

37 Simple Machine December 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm

The lightsabers were always powered by crystals, at least in the expanded universe disney retconned out.

38 MMK December 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Saw it today as part of a work outing. Pretty meh. I don’t have a good memory for visual images so I missed all those. The plot made little sense, the writing was ham-handed and the leading actress was not great. Forest Whitaker’s character was bizarre. Mendelsohn and Diego Luna save the movie.

39 JT December 16, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Were there many young adults or children in the theatre or were there mostly folks who grew up with the original films? I’m in my late 20s and these new Star Wars movies have generated no interest among my peers, so I’m curious.

40 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 8:54 pm

As a Gen X’er I saw the first Star Wars when it came out as a kid, and I can attest that today those movies seem to be mostly enjoyed by kids and their parents who were kids when the first batch came out.

41 JT December 16, 2016 at 9:02 pm

I think it’s nice that children are able to enjoy movies that their parents themselves enjoyed as children. This is an overlooked positive externality to giving a Hollywood studio a long-standing monopoly on art. It binds generations together.

42 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 10:35 pm

+100

43 Norman Pfyster December 17, 2016 at 4:57 pm

A mix at my showing. Lots of teenagers. Lots of parents with young kids. A few greybeards.

44 Chris December 16, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Saw the movie last night and the audience loved it. Among friends, consensus was it was the best movie of the franchise since the original trilogy. It certainly had the best story. I have various minor quibbles, but they simply prevent the movie from being a masterpiece as opposed to stopping your enjoyment of the movie. The final debate among the Rebels that lead to the final attack could have been handled better, but it was obvious they were really trying to build the importance of the main characters. But it doesn’t speak true. Only real weakness I can think of is that none of us remember any of the names of the characters, and despite some obvious characteristics, they all lack real personalities in the sense that you KNOW these characters. Care about them yes, but not know them. Its plot driven, not character driven.

I don’t understand comments that the plot was muddled or didn’t make sense. Seems simple to me. It explains why the Death Star had a critical flaw, and shows how the Rebels learned about it and obtained the plans. It went from one plot coupon to another.

I would give it four stars our of five. The Prequels and Force Awakens are all two and two and a half star movies.

45 Robert Simmons December 18, 2016 at 12:25 pm

I can think of one big plot problem: Why did Galen give the pilot a hologram message, instead of the plans to the Death Star?

46 Norman Pfyster December 18, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Because he didn’t have the plans in his possession? I can think of worse plot problems.

47 Dan Culley December 16, 2016 at 6:18 pm

I saw it last night. I agree the plot wasn’t muddled. It was pretty straightforward, and that to me was the problem. I found it boring.

I thought the acting was good all around, the just wasn’t much for them to work with — characters were underdeveloped.

Maybe I am just not as entertained by action sequences as the average person.

48 Uribe December 16, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Why do so many adults want to see children’s movies these days? I loved the original Star Wars — when I was 7. I thought Sesame Street was pretty great then too.

49 Ronald Brak December 16, 2016 at 8:39 pm

If you give me some names of what you consider to be adult movies I may be able to answer that question, provided I’ve seen some of them.

50 Uribe December 16, 2016 at 10:02 pm

I’d consider Scorsese, the Coens, Lynch, both Andersons, Tarantino, and Cronenberg as examples of contemporary directors making movies mostly for adults. Arguably, in previous generations you didn’t have so much of a focus on big budget movies for children as now.

51 Uribe December 16, 2016 at 10:12 pm

And by no means do I consider all sci-fi immature, but Star Wars sure is.

52 Ronald Brak December 17, 2016 at 12:19 am

Hmmm… Those aren’t what I would call strong adult films. I’d say what separates adult films from children’s films are:

– non-linear story telling
– a plot that requires a shared cultural and/or historical background that children simply haven’t been exposed to.
– a reliance on visual artistry. Like brussel sprouts most children haven’t developed a taste for this.

The Star Wars and comic book movies we are receiving now are, to a large part, made for audiences who don’t share our cultural and/or historical background. That is, people in China and other countries. Because they’re such a large market, films with at least one of the characteristics of children’s films are getting a lot more money than they used to and being promoted a lot more, and so we get many adults watching what appear to be children’s movies.

53 Thiago Ribeiro December 17, 2016 at 3:31 am

Tarantino?

54 Ronald Brak December 17, 2016 at 6:17 am

Let’s see – Tarantino’s movies are often non-linear. So not a child’s movie in that respect.

Required shared cultural background? Well, they generally take place in fantasy worlds that are not our own, so a child’s movie in that respect. They do definitely draw on a cultural knowledge of films that children are unlikely to have, but this knowledge, while useful, may not be essential.

A reliance on visual artistry? Whatever you think of Tarantino’s artistry, an understanding of metaphor and film conventions is probably not required.

So I would say they are adult movies, but not strong adult movies.

One more thing, due to their subject matter, showing Tarrantino movies to children may be considered child abuse in some locations and result in criminal charges. So the actual content is probably not suited for children. But I assume that goes without saying.

55 Thiago Ribeiro December 17, 2016 at 7:06 am

“One more thing, due to their subject matter, showing Tarrantino movies to children may be considered child abuse in some locations and result in criminal charges.”

So what? Gang behavior and bullying can result in criminal charges and children/teenagers keep doing it anyway. Not everything that can traumatize children for the rest of their lives is “adult”.In fact, Tarentino’s taste for stylized violence seems more childish than anything this side of the Mos Eisley Cantina’s puppets.

56 Ronald Brak December 17, 2016 at 8:05 am

So what? So your ex-wife gets custody of your children. Hope you didn’t like having them around.

We can’t all live in the land of the free, you know.

57 Thiago Ribeiro December 17, 2016 at 9:23 am

You and your Tarantinon are pathetic.

58 Thiago Ribeiro December 17, 2016 at 9:23 am

You and your Tarantino are pathetic.

59 Ronald Brak December 17, 2016 at 9:00 pm

You’re right. There’s nothing more pathetic than a man obeying the laws where he lives so he can remain in the lives of his children. Pass the AK-74s and let’s have a bullet party instead.

60 Ronald Brak December 17, 2016 at 9:01 pm

I’m sure I sure a running pig-dog lackey the other day. If we found another one, we could line them up.

61 Todd K December 16, 2016 at 9:24 pm

I’m the same age. Even at 11 or 12 after the trilogy ended, I remember talking to a friend then about Lucus’ prequels and sequels that he had sketched even though we knew almost nothing about it. Speculating about those was far more fun than sitting through Star Wars I and II. After II, I told my friends “Never again. You cannot drag me to another Star Wars movie – ever. period. I’m not joking. last one.”

But I admit there were some fantastic scenes in both. And I confess that when I saw the preview of Star Wars VII for the first time with (? Falcon) – just a sec, looking this up — Millennium!! the Millennium Falcon! shoot into the sky and make a corkscrew with the theme music, I chill went down my spine.

Sure enough my friends in their early 40s took their sons to see Star Wars VII their 7 year old sons. The difference was that when I was 7, I was seeing a breakthrough in film and how the public viewed movies. Yes, at just age 7, I knew that I was witnessing cinematic history.

62 Anon December 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm

I did not see it and will not see it because I would be reminded that copyright laws protect Star Wars and other franchises for a ridiculously long period of time, enabling Hollywood to pump out rehashed, stale ideas. I refuse to reward that kind of unethical assault on our culture.

63 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Fight the power!

64 Mark Thorson December 16, 2016 at 10:13 pm

We know that’s you, Richard Stallman.

65 prior_test2 December 17, 2016 at 2:02 am

Stallman is never anonymous, for good or ill.

66 HI December 17, 2016 at 12:46 am

Star Wars went full social justice retard. They forgot that you never go full retard.

67 The Rage December 17, 2016 at 1:35 am

Star Wars was always based on “social justice”. Rogue one actually handles it better than TFA, mainly because they want to build up Rey before the “turn”.

68 Jan December 17, 2016 at 7:08 am

Rogue One was so much better than the Episode 7. I understand some people might have enjoyed Episode 7, as it was purely derivative of the original anthology–but too much so, in my opinion. I appreciate how the plot of Rogue One connects to the rest of the series, but it is also something very new. And this is cheap, but I really like the detailed landscapes and characters of different worlds in Star Wars, so the fact that this story jumped between a number of settings was a bonus. I thought the acting was fine–what do you expect from Star Wars?

69 A Definite Beta Guy December 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm

These characters are pretty lame and Star Wars can do better. Rey and Finn and Kylo Ren are just much more lively, richer characters than Kung Fu Action Jesus, Watered-down Katinss Everdeen, and Armored Bay-Max. Though Rebel Assassin guy was p awesome. He’s no Poe, though!

70 Ronald Brak December 18, 2016 at 1:48 am

Now that the Star Wars franchise has explained how one shot from an X-wing was able to destroy the heavily armored Death Star, I demand a movie to explain how one blow from a stick can incapacitate a storm trooper in full body armor.

71 Ali Choudhury December 19, 2016 at 5:12 am

Lowest bidder wins! It makes you wonder why the stormtroopers wear body armour when it just seems to slow them down and offers no protection against blaster fire.

72 Chris December 19, 2016 at 12:46 pm

The ridiculous ease by which Stormtroopers are defeated now in Star Wars is a pet peeve, and it’s one of my complaints about this movie – although I recognize few care. The Stormtroopers were formidable opponents in the first two movies (for those who complain that they couldn’t hit Han and the others on the Death Star, remember that they were under orders to let them escape so that the tracker on the Falcon would tell Tarkin and Vader where the Rebel Base is at). It’s only the Jedi of the original trilogy that blows that because of the Ewoks (if they were defeated by Wookies instead, as originally planned, I don’t think many people would hold it against them).

Stormtroopers are supposed to be elite shock troops. We see other Imperial soldiers without the armor (particularly in Jedi) and with different uniforms and helmets. Those should be used when you need people easily defeated or routine guards, and keep the Stormtroopers as an elite guard.

But I know I am in the minority on this one.

73 TuringTest December 27, 2016 at 3:19 am

A “great” movie? What the hell is Cowen talking about? The movie was garbage …

74 The Anti-Gnostic December 27, 2016 at 9:38 am

Saw it last night. Not total garbage, but close. And the movie aims really, really young. Lots of children in the audience where I went.

75 Dan December 28, 2016 at 12:43 am

Just saw it… Tyler’s review is totally correct.

76 Mathews January 6, 2017 at 5:29 am

I don’t think fictions have similarity with realities & vice versa

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