‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is just a couple short days away. Reviews for the film have started to come out, and it seems like the consensus is overall, pretty positive.
HOWEVER! In some of the reviews I’ve read and watched, I’ve seen some criticisms that I really struggled to see eye to eye with before even seeing the movie myself. It got me thinking that there might still be a lot of things that people might be expecting or not expecting from this movie that need to be checked.
Concerning Darth Vader:
If you truly are expecting him to have a huge presence in this movie, you’re fooling yourself a ton. None of the marketing for this movie has suggested that his role is that large. It will be nothing more than a glorified cameo, though I do hope we see that he does something cool.
If he doesn’t actually do anything cool, no one can blame the marketing for showing too much or too little. This was an issue with ‘Revenge of the Sith’. There were pieces of marketing in merchandise and posters that made it seem like Vader would be in his suit using his lightsaber. This never happened in the movie.
They didn’t make the same mistake twice. The marketing and early reviews for ‘Rogue One’ indicate that Vader’s role is in fact very small. It’s not a Darth Vader movie, so don’t expect it to be one.
Next… Don’t expect an opening crawl.
It was heavily hinted that it wouldn’t be there by the producers, and several critics have confirmed it is not there. I personally don’t like this decision, as I have always felt the crawl for Star Wars is important.
- The crawl reminds the viewer that you’re in this infinite universe of story telling. No matter where you pick up, something always happened before. Even ‘The Phantom Menace’ did this, and so far that has been the earliest canon event we have seen take place on-screen.
- They’re trying to make the audience know that this is a different type of Star Wars movie. Okay. But you have 2 HOURS to do that! There are plenty of things you can do in 2 hours to help differentiate.
But the opening crawl will not be there. I expect this will feel a little jarring, even if you do know this going in. But perhaps it’s best to know beforehand. With that said, it makes sense that it isn’t there, as this movie is literally the event that is described in vague detail in the opening crawl for ‘A New Hope’.
I know us Star Wars fans are very hyped up and that seeing certain reviews might be a bit nerve-racking. We all want an enjoyable experience. Please understand this when looking at reviews though— Not every critic is a Star Wars fan. Some also might not be big fans of franchise films in general.
The thing about any franchise movie- There is always a formula. But what makes a certain new story stand out is normally how well the journey is executed, as well as how well the characters are executed on that journey.
Some bonus points go to the franchise film that tweaks its tone and aesthetic to help it feel a little more fresh. This has been done in various franchises like ‘Mission: Impossible’, ‘Fast & Furious’, and ‘Captain America’.
‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ is pretty much the exact same movie as ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, but it’s my personal favorite because even though it follows the same formula, it adds a father-son dynamic that I feel more invested in. Even ‘Home Alone 2: Lost in New York’ is a total rehash of ‘Home Alone’, but people tend to love that just as much (maybe even more) than the first film.
The critique of ‘The Force Awakens’ feeling too familiar still bothers me a year later. Every Rocky movie, every Bond movie, every Die Hard movie… it doesn’t matter. They’re all the same formula, but everyone also still has that one that resonates with them more than another.
It’s obvious that many critics will just go with the “if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” label on certain franchises, if it’s a series they were never truly invested in. Which is fine, I’m not saying they’re wrong. I’m just saying that if they don’t already like Star Wars a lot, they’re going to use that type of critique so that they can carry on with their lives a lot quicker, and move onto the next film they have to write about. My advice to any Star Wars fan out there looking at reviews, is this: Seek out the reviews of critics who are actually Star Wars fans. If they like or dislike it, that is a far better indication of what you should expect.
On knowing the outcome of the story:
We all know the Titanic sinks. But why would anybody watch 3 hours of that one event? Because (agree or disagree) James Cameron takes the viewer on a journey, with real characters, which by the end, the viewer has an emotional response to how everything ends up.
We all know ‘Rogue One’ is about the events that get us to ‘A New Hope’, and we know the rebels end up destroying the Death Star. But what we don’t know is the journey that brought the rebellion to that point, and how we as an audience emotionally react to that story being told. To dismiss a movie just because you know the concept is ignorant. It’s not always about the concept, it’s about the journey.
Very soon, we will all have our own opinions about ‘Rogue One’. Expect that elements might feel familiar. Expect that other elements might feel unfamiliar by being altered or removed. It’s never going to please everybody. Just sit back and enjoy the journey!