anghraine: leia as rosie the riveter; text: we can do it (leia [riveter])
[personal profile] anghraine
Hello, Dreamwidth! I've been howling over Rogue One on Tumblr for days now, which is totally fine. Haha. Merry Christmas.

Short version: I think a couple of the criticisms in terms of structure are legit, and also OH MY GOD I LOVE LOVE I LOVE THIS IS PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE SW SINCE EMPIRE OH GODDDDD ALSO TWO OTPS OUT OF ONE MOVIE WHAT A FILM A+++++

An anon asked me for a review, so my longer and more coherent review:

I loved Rogue One, without question. I think it was a great movie, though a flawed one, structurally. I’ve been squeeing, so I’ll get to the boring criticisms:

The first 1/3 or so lurches from character to character, though not proportionally. Nobody gets anything like Jyn’s extended introduction, and Cassian is the only character who gets anything like her depth. On one level, that’s to be expected, as she’s the protagonist. But Rogue One is much more an ensemble piece than something like an Austen novel or even the obvious point of comparison, ANH. The entire point of Rogue One is that it’s an ensemble piece. In something like that, it’s generally more effective to split narrative attention more evenly.

Quite a few reviews said that we don’t get enough information to even care about the characters. I think those reviewers are full of shit. (*sob*) But it is based on a legit criticism—a lot is being carried by acting rather than writing. We get that especially with Baze and Chirrut, IMO, whose relationship to each other packs more of a punch than anything we know about them as individual people. (I do think that relationship was a very good way to achieve that effect, however, if you’re going to go light on characterization.)

The other thing that I think is a bit weak is Jyn’s relationship to Saw. First of all, most of the audience knows nothing about him. Extreme Rebel guerrilla fighter who went off the deep end is clear, sure. But if we’d seen him as Jyn’s father figure at literally any point, then his abandonment of her would be much more poignant. As it is, we’ve seen nothing of their interactions at the point that they have their confrontation, and his death is weirdly underwhelming because we’ve seen almost nothing positive about him and don’t really know him. Galen disappeared from Jyn’s life at six(?), while Saw dominated it for the next decade, yet her relationship with Galen is vastly more developed.

I was entertained by the Imperial power plays and glad to see them, but I think it would have been worth it to cut those for more development of the heroic side. We could get some connecting fiber between little Jyn, 16-y-o Rebel Jyn, and 22-y-o criminal Jyn. We could get more on how 6-y-o Cassian ended up fighting in the Rebellion, WHICH SEEMS LIKE KIND OF A BIG DEAL. We could get more of how Jyn and Cassian got from largely adversarial with a touch of UST to Cassian panicking over her on the platform/Jyn’s sense of betrayal. It feels like there’s a genuinely a missing scene there—even a short one could do that work (the Han/Luke/Leia relationship is fundamentally established in the trash compactor scene, for instance).

I’d particularly like something bridging the gap between Jyn’s understandable but pretty baseless accusations (“I disobeyed my orders!!!” “JUST LIKE A STORMTROOPER” um okay) / Cassian’s assumption that Jyn just Doesn’t Understand Rebel Life (haha), and their evident warmth at the Rebel base. Apart from those two, we could really use more of a grip on Bodhi’s defection (though I think it’s probably the most straightforward and easy to buy of the backstories) and his development from Saw’s prisons to the end. More on Chirrut and Baze’s roles as guardians of the temple and what Jedha even is, in terms of the mythos. Baze used to be devout—interesting, tell me more! because this is almost the only independent thing we know about him!!

That is a lot of material, yeah, and even sharply reducing the Imperial subplots might not account for it. But I think we could afford a bit less action—it’s really well-done action, but there’s just so much of it, and a few more quiet character moments where we can stop and breathe would be good. On multiple fronts.

I also thought that Vader’s and Leia’s costumes looked … odd. To me, Leia actually seemed more ‘off’ from behind than from the front. I think the criticisms of her face, and Tarkin’s, were enormously overblown. Tarkin in particular was very well-done, IMO; he didn’t seem exactly Peter Cushing, but he did seem human. (My unspoiled mother gasped, clutched my arm, and hissed HE’S DEAD!!!!! WHERE DID THEY GET HIM!!! HOW !!!!!!!)

I also think it was less jarring than simply re-casting would have been.


Like pretty much everyone has said, the last third is amazing—on par with the Hoth battle of ESB, I’d say. It’s essentially an extended battle scene/heist, which would be very easy to drag. But it keeps moving and keeps the stakes up even though we know what happens! And I actually think it does a great if SADISTICALLY CRUEL job with the possibility of survival, which makes the pain even more intense (they plan for needing a way out! hahahafuckyou). Kaytoo’s death could be a deliberate tearjerker, but hey, a droid. Maybe he’s backed up somewhere. Bodhi’s hurts, but he’s probably the one we know least. Chirrut and Baze’s are heartbreaking, and at that point, there’s a very real possibility that they’ll all die. Though also that they won’t, since that much lends enormous pathos without sacrificing our leads.

And when Cassian is shot, I think it’s a very, hm, doubtful thing in cinematic language. Jyn leaving him for the mission, because she has to (lbr he’d be enraged if she didn’t), is a great character moment, but there’s none of the dramatic emphasis that the actual deaths have gotten. That’s especially suspect with a character as important as Cassian. It’s wonderful when he shows up again, but not terribly surprising. And then you’ve got the need to leave Krennic to w/e and get out, and you’ve got Jyn all but carrying him through the warzone and they do escape it. Success! It’s a sort of extended hope spot.

…Then, without being shot or exploded to death, they’re still doomed. And after everything, they die in each other’s arms, and it’s so perfect that Cassian, the unflinching Rebel, clings to her in the end, while Jyn, who spent years closing her eyes to the fight, accepts her ultimate sacrifice with her eyes wide open.

I love that it prods around the edges of what remains an essentially good vs evil fight. The thing is, this is a war that has to be fought. The Empire is, genuinely, that horrific. The Rebellion is, genuinely, in the right. In the global (er, galactic) sense, the Rebellion is as righteous as it’s ever been. What’s questioned is not the overall “is this war worth fighting?” but which specific sacrifices are—maybe “worth it” isn’t useful, but whether they’re morally justified. As I said in another post, I think it’s incredibly important that Jyn herself has been a sacrifice on the altar of revolution. It’s framed as unjustified, IMO. But not necessarily … had Saw explained the situation to 16-y-o Jyn and sent her elsewhere, that would be a very different thing. It’s not just about whether specific sacrifices are justified, but how they’re made—I think, above everything else, RO is concerned with the how. How is … how far can you co-opt the agency of autonomous beings and remain in the right?

One of the most powerful moments for me, I said, was Jyn’s march across the catwalk towards Krennic, and how incredibly threatening and grim she is despite limping, despite him having the blaster. But it’s tied with another one, and that’s when Cassian just drops his forehead on his sniper rifle. I sort of expected that Jyn would catch up with him and they’d fight or something (which would honestly fit her reaction better), but it’s much more powerful that it is entirely his own decision.

I do not think for a moment that he has decided against assassinating people per se. Or even that he’s absolutely decided against killing Galen—there might be a different circumstance where it’d be necessary. He decides against it in this circumstance; in this circumstance, it’s wrong. To put it another way, the reasons for his orders are no longer valid, even though the order still stands. He hates what he does regardless, but there has to be a justification, a distinction between the terrible things that must be done for the cause, and just following orders à la stormtroopers.

(Jyn’s comparison is an important one in a general sense, though wrong and a bit ??? in this case. I think she’s framed as being fundamentally in the right, while also lashing out at Cassian in her grief and as a stand-in for the Rebellion as a whole.)

Hm, and one of my criticisms is that the characterization can be a bit weak as written—it’s carried more by the acting than the actual dialogue at points, particularly for the supporting characters. (Obviously, I am in love with Jyn and Cassian.) BUT. It is carried by the acting. We do get invested in these people. The acting is really, really good IMO—maybe the best of any of the SW films.

Oh, and I think Vader (slight costume weirdness aside) was used SPLENDIDLY. That glimpse of the horror of suitless Anakin was amazing—there’s always been a sympathetic horror to Vader, and I think it’s extremely well-done here. He makes murder puns in his lava castle. This is all I wanted and didn’t know I wanted?? I was worried it’d be all fanboy badass mcevil Vader, and it was much more the Vader I know from the OT. He’s unimpressed by the Death Star (there is still no point at which he doesn’t actively oppose using it! pragmatically, but you can read more into it, if you want). He’s … like, mildly annoyed? at Imperial power struggles. And those few seconds of him not holding back are everything we always knew! We’re torn between “oh shit oh shit oh shit” and “FUCK YEAHHHHH,” haha, which is the right and proper zone for Vader feelings. And he’s there just enough to bind the movie into the overarching story, to feel like we are really in the ANH title crawl and he’ll be attacking Leia’s ship in another minute. But he doesn’t overwhelm it, which would be very, very easy.


(despite my nitpicks)

(which actually make me 100x more fannish than if I thought it were perfect! bring on the fix-fics and AUs and narrative welders! LIFE IS GOOD)
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anghraine: from the 2005 p&p: darcy standing at a piano while georgiana plays it (Default)

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