Generally speaking, I avoid writing about franchise movies. Since my response is conditioned by my level of investment in the franchise itself, so there is that whole bias thing. The X-Men movies, for instance, have their pros and cons when compared to the comic book series, but I don’t think I’m the best person to comment on their merit as movies precisely because I’m so familiar with the characters. (Regardless of what a certain IQ-deficient person who challenged my knowledge of the franchise might think)
Watching X-Men: Apocalypse, for instance, was a lot of fun, because despite its many, many flaws, it had a few ‘crowning moments of awesome’. Also, the reviews had been so terrible that I went in expecting something worse than X3 : The Last Stand, and simply by not being as bad as that revolting piece of trash, X-Men: Apocalypse redeemed itself.
Star Wars though, is a whole different story. The original trilogy, childish in parts, is still a whole lot of fun. The prequels are much less enjoyable, though Revenge of the Sith had its moments. And The Force Awakens though certainly thoroughly watchable, still gave off a strong sense of being a cynical exploitation of the fandom rather than an attempt to weave a new mythology.
Where does Rogue One: (so helpfully called) A Star Wars story fit into this scale?
I’m happy to say – a cut above.
Though steeped in Star Wars symbolism and nostalgia, Rogue One stands on its own. And more than any other movie in the franchise, it is unabashed about the costs of war. No children’s fable, this. The ‘good guys’ do bad things. At least one of the bad guys has his redeeming moments. And in the midst of epic space battles, the human element is never forgotten. It is still a story of the people fighting the war, not a bunch of nameless mooks. Of courage and hope, or ordinary people – not Jedi, not Sith, not super-talented heroes. It is this, perhaps, that really makes Rogue One touch a chord that other franchise movies may not – it is about the ordinary people who make victory possible, who bring hope to a hopeless cause.
In the last of the original movie trilogies, Mon Mothma tells Han and Luke that ‘Many Bothans died to bring us this information.’ Rogue One is not about the exact same event, but it gives a face to the ‘many’. None of them is a Jedi.
And perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.
|Rogue One - Movie Poster|