Rogue One Review: “Don’t…choke…on your aspirations.”

Hey, Everybody! Welcome to another review from and Happy May the Fourth! I know it’s been awhile since my last review but once again life has been particularly maddening lately and so I haven’t been able to get too many written out lately. However, this week I’m working on three new pieces in honor May the Fourth and of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story being released on blu-ray and dvd. This’ll be the first one, followed soon by Logan and then an editorial on Star Wars. But for now, here’s the review:


So the likelihood is that you’ve seen this movie already. And unlike a lot of my other reviews which have been right after seeing the movie in theaters, I’ve had a bit more time to form my thoughts. With that in mind, and those who haven’t seen this movie, here’s the story:

Former scientist, Galen Erso, lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. Their peaceful existence comes crashing down when Imperial Director Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and a hearty band of resistance fighters to steal the plans for this horrifying space station and bring hope to the galaxy.


As always let’s start with the pros. The world shown in Rogue One is amazingly detailed and feels like a living breathing place that people actually live in and it helps bring a depth to the Galaxy Far Far Away that we haven’t seen beyond the usual cantina scene which I’ve always thought was a great weakness in the Original Trilogy, as sacrilegious as that might sound to die-hard Star Wars fans. The prequels, as maligned as they are, provided a showcase for what strange and exotic worlds the galaxy had to offer beyond the mundane desert planet, ice planet, jungle planet, etc. Rogue One does this expertly, especially in the case of a castle belonging to a certain Dark Lord of the Sith. Honestly, I’d love to see that location show up in future installments just to see more of it.

Rogue One builds on those ideas and uses them to logically and “realistically” flesh out the Star Wars galaxy in a way that we’ve never seen before and that is completely to its credit. The sets are grimy and lived in which we’ve come to expect from recent Star Wars movies but the people and aliens that are presented in those environments feel like they’re a legitimate part of the world being created rather than just a small sideshow attraction like they have in previous installments.

This helps make the Galactic Civil War and the Empire’s tyranny feel more present in the conflict because we see the effect that tyranny is having on ordinary people and how it’s making them harsher and more cynical even as they try to overthrow that tyranny. It also emphasizes how desperate the situation is for the rebellion before A New Hope occurs.

The movie also presents some interesting character returns in the form of Mon Mothma, overall leader of the rebellion, and Bail Organa, Princess Leia’s adopted father, played by Jimmy Smits who also played Bail in the prequels.

And lastly, I have to give props to this movie for its action. We haven’t seen action this good looking in a Star Wars movie in a long time and the sheer spectacle of the battles, both on the ground and in space is jaw dropping. One moment in particular that stands out is when the rebels literally push one Star Destroyer into another. The battles also showcase the might of the Empire by showing not just the Star Destroyers but the veritable clouds of TIE fighters that the Rebels have to hold out against making it clear how dangerous their foe is (even if they can’t shoot straight 90 percent of the time). And yes, there is one moment that some of you may be wanting me to talk about but I’ll get to that in a minute.

So those are all the things I loved about this movie. If that’s what you wanted to hear then there you go. Let me know what you liked about the film below and have a great day. Because, brother, you’re not ‘gonna like this next bit at all.

Rogue One is an expertly made film and Director Gareth Edwards has demonstrated his ability once again to give amazing action sequences in elaborate sets and environments. Visually his films are fantastic. However…

I have noticed that Edwards tends to favor grand action and gritty environments over storytelling and character. And I’m sorry but there has to be more to a movie than just the action. If there’s not an interesting story with compelling characters then the action is pointless.

This happened with Edwards’ most recent production, 2014’s Godzilla, wherein the action with the titular monster is amazing, but it isn’t very long and much of the film deals with a human character who we never really get to know other than he’s trying to get back to his wife and son. Seeing the monsters is cool but we’re seeing it through the eyes of someone who we don’t care if he lives or dies because we don’t know him from Adam.

The same thing is true of the Transformers movies and the recent Batman vs. Superman. Rogue One is certainly better in most respects than those movies-it actually has a story and one or two memorable characters-but it still falls prey to the same pitfalls. The main characters who we’re supposed to be rooting for are either bland or unlikable and it sabotages the film’s efforts to make us care about their struggles.

Ask yourself this, who is Jyn Erso? Who is Cassian? Who are Baze and Chirrut? If you’re wondering who I’m talking about let me rephrase, ahem: Who is the leader girl? The tall leader guy? The guy with the staff and the guy with the big guns? Who were they?

Do you see what I’m talking about? We remember good characters because of who they are as people, NOT because of what weapon they carry or what role they fill. Luke Skywalker is an optimistic young farm-boy who dreams of greater things. Han Solo is the mercenary smuggler with a heart of gold. Princess Leia is an idealistic warrior-princess who desires freedom for her people. Granted these are characters that we as the audience know so well because of their longevity but they had longevity for a reason.

The characters of Rogue One don’t have the personality that they need in order to make us care about them, and (in case you’re wondering) I’m not talking about backstory. Backstory doesn’t give a character personality; it gives a backdrop for them to display their personality because of how they react to it. The closest this movie comes is K-2SO and that’s largely because he’s played by Alan Tudyk, a national treasure. Also, he’s what C-3PO would be like if he actually, you know, had a spine.

This brings me to another problem with this movie…its way too fan-servicey. This movie is billed as being “A Star Wars Story”, meaning that it’s supposed to be its own thing separate from the Skywalker Saga films. The problem is that this movie couldn’t exist without the Saga films and does everything it can to remind you that it takes place right before the events of the original Star Wars.

Do you remember the Death Star? Well we’re gonna take every chance to show it to you even if it makes no sense in the context of the original.

Do you remember Red Leader and those guys from the Cantina who beat up Luke? Well, it turns out they bumped into the Rogue crew the day before.

Hey, what about Tarkin and Princess Leia? They were in Star Wars weren’t they?

Here they are in all their CGI uncanny valley glory!

To be clear, I’m not against fan-service. It’s a great way to engage the audience, especially those who have followed a franchise for a long time. But it HAS TO BE…SUBTLE! If the audience is beaten over the head with fan-service then the hardcore fans start to wonder why they’re being so obvious and pandering, and people who aren’t hardcore fans won’t care!

The most egregious instance of this is the moment toward the end of the movie, when Darth Vader invades a Rebel cruiser, igniting his crimson saber, slicing down Rebels left and right as seen here:

Yes, I’m sure you remember it. Many hold it up as the epitome of Star Wars awesomeness and…they’re right. It is amazingly awesome to see Darth Vader in his prime, the force of destruction (no pun intended) that we as kids always imagined him to be, but were never able to see just because the technology of the time didn’t allow for it. It’s a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. Here’s my problem though, what did Vader accomplish?

He enters the Rebel cruiser, kills all kinds of rebel foot-soldiers (and looks awesome doing it) but they still get away with the plans even though he could probably use the Force to easily grab the disk away. They get the disk to Princess Leia who escapes with it, leaving Vader to watch and shake his metaphorical fist as her ship escapes.

Fanboy Side-note: Since Princess Leia’s ship was at the scene where the plans were stolen and Vader watched her leave, why did she even bother claiming she was on a diplomatic mission? That’s like watching your friends rob a bank, them putting the cash in your trunk, you making a getaway, and then claiming you were late for a dentist appointment. Who in their right mind would believe that?

But do you see what I’m getting at? As awesome as Vader is in his fight sequence, he doesn’t change anything in the story and so his fight sequence is completely pointless, especially since all the Rebels he kills are a bunch of no-name red shirts. Wouldn’t it have been so much better to have Vader be on the beach during the finale with our heroes, or them on the Rebel cruiser desperately trying hold him off long enough to give the plans to Leia, knowing that he’s going to kill them all? How much more powerful would that have been?

Yet they held back and reserved Vader for a moment that was just to show how awesome he is. It almost feels like the filmmakers were so afraid to overuse him that they overcompensated, and deprived us of something much better than what we actually got.




Whew, glad I got that rant off of my chest. Rogue One is not a bad movie. Far from it, it’s probably one of the better made movies of 2016. From a technical filmmaking perspective it’s magnificent to look at and really captures both the grittiness and majesty of a world where space wizards wield laser swords and spaceships can fly faster than light. Rogue One introduces us to a Galaxy Far Far Away that is much more gritty and realistic and the conflicts it tries to portray reflect conflicts that we can all understand and relate to. That can be a very interesting story to tell. The sad thing is that in its efforts to capture that realism, Rogue One seems to remove some of the joy and freedom that made Star Wars so beloved in the first place. In addition it does so with bland and uninteresting characters and unneeded amounts of fan service. If you like Star Wars there’s plenty to love about this movie and even if you’re not a hardcore fan you’ll probably still find things to like.

But my question is, if we love this world so much (and even if we don’t) and want to keep coming back, shouldn’t we expect more from the people who maintain it?



2/5 Movie Nights


So what did you guys think of this review? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? What parts stuck out to you? Let me know all about it on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments below. Thanks and as always, May the Flick (and the Force) be with You! Always!

Star Wars-Rogue One: Jyn Erso is NOT Rey’s Mother?

Hey Everyone!

Welcome to a special edition of I LOVE STAR WARS! One of the greatest and most enduring cinematic sagas to ever grace the silver screen, George Lucas’ space fantasy has informed the last three generations of America and its influence is present everywhere. This is especially true with the arrival of a new cast of heroes in the recent film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The main character, a scavenger girl named Rey, has been a subject of much interest in both geek and non-geek circles due in large part to her mysterious parentage. While a number of candidates have been put forward, Luke Skywalker chief among them, a new contender has come forward in the form of Jyn Erso, a young woman played by actress Felicity Jones (as seen below on the left), who is the main character of the new Star Wars film, Rogue One coming out this December. A lot has been made of the possibility of Jyn Erso being Rey’s mother and having a larger significance to the Star Wars galaxy as a whole. However, some people don’t seem to like this idea and one blogger at provided a list of reasons that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother.

flickmuncher Jyn Rey's mother cover photo

If you’d like to read the full reasons in the list; click the link here.

I personally am a major advocate of this theory so I would like to offer my two cents as to why these 11 reasons aren’t necessarily valid and why the theory makes sense. This is my personal take on why Jyn Erso is Rey’s mother:

  1. Their Ages. While Felicity Jones is indeed 32 years old, she has played multiple roles where her character is much younger, ranging from teens to early and late twenties. Given that fact and also that Disney seems to like keeping their heroes in the tweens demographic it’s not impossible that Jyn could have had Rey while in her thirties, a common thing nowadays. The entire argument is predicated on the assumption that an actress always plays her age and, as we all know, assumptions just make an ass out of you and me.
  2. The Timeline. Just because Jyn is not present in the original trilogy doesn’t mean she wasn’t involved in the rebellion through that time. Furthermore, it was made clear in Canon material (e.g. the novelization of The Force Awakens) that Supreme Leader Snoke of the First Order is borderline obsessed with Darth Vader’s lineage, the most powerful force-sensitives in the galaxy, which is why he corrupted Ben Solo. If Rey was in fact Luke’s child, and a good deal of evidence (circumstantial as it is) points in that direction, it’s possible that Snoke was after Rey even before he corrupted Ben into Kylo Ren, and that Jyn had to take extreme measures to protect her.
  3. We don’t know if Jyn survives Rogue One. This is the only point that I don’t have a direct answer for because…we don’t know if she survives and we won’t until Rogue One comes out in December. That being said this is still Lucasfilm under the Disney banner. I’ve never known Disney to go for downer endings in any of their movies, or to kill off their main characters regularly. This isn’t Game of Thrones here, so I honestly don’t expect Jyn to die by the time the credits roll. While I do think most of her team will be wiped out (probably by Darth Vader himself)I believe she’ll survive to the end credits.
  4. Jyn is not force-sensitive like Rey. This is conjecture and based on the logic that being a Jedi and being force-sensitive are the same thing when…they’re really not. It’s like this: all Jedi are force-sensitive (that’s kind of a necessary trait for that line of work, like how people who can see make better snipers), but not all force-sensitives are Jedi. Jedi are a philosophical, quasi-religious order, sort of like Shaolin Monks. They aren’t born as Jedi. They have to be trained to become that. Furthermore, Rey’s amazing force-sensitivity could just as easily be answered by her being both Jyn and Luke’s daughter where her ability comes from her Skywalker lineage.
  5. No Skywalker Connection. This one’s pretty silly by most standards. As far as Luke and Jyn meeting, it’s possible that they did meet during the Rebellion years and we were just never shown it. I’ve heard of couples who got together, got married and had kids, years, even decades, after they first met. Plus, war is a crazy time and who knows where Luke and Jyn’s lives were at after Endor and the fall of the Empire. Luke had the responsibility of rebuilding the Jedi and Jyn may have been off doing all sorts of special ops work for the New Republic. Also this point seems to be operating under the assumption that I already addressed in point 1 and is invalid for the same reasons. Even if Jyn is older than Luke that doesn’t count for much. Padme was five years older than Anakin when they were married. Just sayin’.
  6. Rogue One is a Standalone movie. Technically, yes, Rogue One is a standalone movie but to use the Marvel universe as an example: Ant-Man is a Standalone movie, Captain America was a Standalone movie, Iron Man was a Standalone movie. Yet they all are part of the same universe and you see that connecting tissue in how they reference each other. They all showed their own stories with their own characters without being directly adherent to a larger story. By that logic Rogue One isn’t a standalone at all. It’s completely dependent on the narrative that’s already been established in Episode IV to give it the weight it needs. If Episode IV didn’t exist, this movie wouldn’t be about a group of rebels stealing the plans to this world-destroying weapon. It would be about them actually, you know, DESTROYING the damn thing (pardon my French).

The other thing is that all the other Star Wars ‘Standalone’s’ that have been announced are tied directly to the Episodes. Han Solo, Boba Fett, an Obi-Wan Kenobi trilogy(where they go with that I have no idea); they all deal with subject matter and characters that are connected to the Saga. No movie is an island, especially not in a galaxy far, far away.

  1. It’s too expected. This is grasping at straws and personally I’m sick of this particular argument. Just because a story beat is expected doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting or fun to see play out. As for Rey and Jyn looking alike, yes. Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones do look a lot alike. Eerily so in fact. Star Wars casting directors seem to have a habit of casting brown-haired, brown/hazel-eyed actresses in the female leads. They’ve even done it with some of the side characters.

To use the words of the immortal Leroy Jethro Gibbs, “I don’t believe in coincidences”. That goes double for these massive film franchises where every detail is so scrutinized by the fans. The studios know this. They aren’t oblivious of the fans and Lucasfilm especially has proven that multiple times. So either someone really needs to diversify on their casting choices or something fishy is going on here.

As for it being a red herring, that’s always possible but is it good to play with the fans like this? Do it too much and you start to lose out on potential story opportunities that work with the narrative just for the sake of a shocking surprise.

  1. There are no clues in The Force Awakens. Why would there be? The Force Awakens is Rey’s story not Jyn’s and if you ask me “what about all that evidence pointing to Luke?” I will tell you this: The Force Awakens is Episode VII and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy has made very clear that the Episodes are a Skywalker story (this lends to the theory that Rey is in fact, Luke’s daughter, but I digress). Episode VII didn’t introduce Rey’s parents because we needed to get to know her, Finn, BB-8 and the other characters first. Jyn hasn’t been established as a character yet. If there had been clues, if there had been references to Jyn in the movie, it probably would have gone over all our heads or would have taken the focus off of Rey. So why put clues to Jyn in a movie that she really has no part of?
  2. Not Everyone has to be connected. This is another argument I keep seeing and you wouldn’t believe how much it irks me. It also connects into the whole “they’re making the universe smaller if they make Rey’s parents someone we know” debate and I’m calling bologna on both.

First off, not everyone is connected in these movies. In fact, almost no one is. For all the evidence and fan theories that are out there, Rey, Finn, Poe are, as of right now, unrelated to ANYONE from the original trilogy. It’s implied that Rey is somehow connected to the Skywalker lineage but the only person with confirmed blood ties to the previous movies is the villain, Kylo Ren. And making Jyn Rey’s mom is one connection. One. No one is arguing to make Chewbacca, Wicket the Ewok’s uncle, or Finn to be Lando’s son. Now, if there do turn out to be all these connections then I think this concern will be warranted. But in this case I think making that connection makes sense in the context of the overall story.

Second, making Jyn turn out to be Rey’s mother is not something that I think shrinks the universe. Much as the fans moan and groan about this, I’d rather have good stories with characters that I care about in a smaller setting than a massive galaxy with lots of characters I don’t know at all. More characters doesn’t necessarily mean better characters. In addition, if it were revealed that Jyn was Rey’s mom in perhaps, Episode VIII or XI then that reveal would be much more impactful to us as fans because we could see who Rey’s mom was beyond being just “Rey’s Mom”. It’s the same with Rey in Episode VII and why I’m glad they didn’t tell us who she was then. If they had told us that she was Luke’s daughter or Han’s daughter right from the get go, I don’t think she would have been as much of a hit with us fans because we’d all just see Rey as ‘the daughter of ___’ instead of a character in her own right.

  1. Other’s would know. Who said they didn’t? For all we know, Han and Leia might have known the truth about Rey’s parentage the whole time. It was definitely implied in The Force Awakens that Han had at least some idea of Rey’s identity. On the other hand, who said they did know? Running under the theory that Luke is Rey’s father, it could have been he never told anyone about his relationship with Jyn. He was rather reclusive after all (according to Star Wars: Bloodline at any rate) and it’s possible that if Jyn had Rey she might never even have told Luke about her. The fact is, we still don’t know. The circumstances of how and why Rey was left on Jakku in the first place remain unclear so this isn’t really a reason for Jyn being or not being her mom at all. We’re not shown or told everything in The Force Awakens so we don’t really know what Han and Leia knew or didn’t know. Until the aforementioned circumstances are revealed, this one’s off the table as an argument for either side so far as I’m concerned.
  2. Daisy Ridley said she’s not. This comes from a quote by Daisy Ridley at the MTV movie awards where she was asked about the Jyn = Rey’s Mother theory and her answer was, “just because she’s white and got brown hair…it doesn’t mean she’s my mom.” While many, including the original writer of this list, saw this as confirmation that Jyn is NOT Rey’s mother, I myself am a little more hesitant to accept this as a fact.

Daisy’s quote, while not encouraging the fan-theory, is not an outright denial either. This is something that you would expect her to say, especially given the attention to secrecy by the Lucasfilm PR department. Fan-theories keep people talking about the movie and its characters, whether they’re true or not. If Jyn is Rey’s mother they obviously wouldn’t want Daisy Ridley to spoil that reveal but if Jyn is not Rey’s mom then it cools down that fan-theory and likewise some of the excitement for Rogue One. Rogue One is definitely connected to Episode IV but the fact is that Episode IV, as much as we fanboys love it, is not the freshest thing on casual audiences minds. That would be Episode VII.

In addition the biggest demographic for Star Wars is kids and young adults who are probably more familiar now with Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren than they are with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader who they know primarily from their parents. If Rogue One is connected somehow to Episode VII then it will have a larger base to draw on and the studios know this which is why they wouldn’t deny this theory outright even if it wasn’t true. In that light, taking Ridley’s quote as gospel is not something I can do because it’s just neither here nor there.


So that is my personal, rather long-winded response to the question of  “is Jyn Erso, Rey’s Mother”? I think I’ve made my feelings rather clear. But you know what? I could be dead wrong. It could be that all of this will be blown out the window when we finally see the movie in its full glory. This just makes it more exciting to see what happens next in that Galaxy Far, Far Away that we all love so much. What are your thoughts on this theory? Do you disagree? Why? Let me know in the comments below or on facebook and twitter.


Have a great weekend and as always, May the Flick be with You!

%d bloggers like this: