OPEN POST: Movie Therapy for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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brian-mcgee - January 14, 2018

One of the things I pride myself on is my ability to talk through movies with friends and colleagues in order to better understand what people from various viewpoints thought of different moments, plot devices, and characters. It's a therapeutic process wherein we can all grow and learn and better come to terms with things.

It also helps when you're all really on the same page and you can feed that rage monster inside you and just let it all out until you're blue in the face and feeling much, much better about things. That's helpful too. As Inside Out taught us all, our emotions are at their best when working in harmony with one another. Anger helps to beget Joy, Sadness can lead to Joy, basically all roads lead back to Joy. I think that was the point, anyway. 

Movie Therapy is gonna be just like regular therapy, but with movies. I'm going to bring up a movie that could be best described as controversial because of the multiple strong reactions it elicited. Thanks to the rousing success of last week's therapy session on The Last Jedi, I figured we should stay in the Star Wars universe for another week to talk about the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

While I will admit that the film is severely flawed, I find it to be the most wholly satisfactory of the Disney produced Star Wars films to date. Yes, the fan service is totally misplaced and tone deaf. Yes, the characters could have used more development. Yes, Grand Moff Tarkin and Leia did indeed ride the Polar Express to the Uncanny Valley. The thing is, I don't mind any of that stuff all that much. They're small parts of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable film set in a universe we've all grown up with.

I feel that more pre-production time might have helped to smooth out a good number of issues that caused the film to be extensively reshot. It does have a lot of hallmarks of a film that was seriously reworked in post-production, namely the cut and paste nature of a lot scenes—in other words, they could be arranged in any order and still make relative narrative sense—but it's not a fiasco. 

It's coherent, has a through-line, and mostly succeeds at feeling as if it exists in the world we already know and love. Like many of the best Star Wars films, it's got an incredibly talented cast from top to bottom. Ben Mendelsohn makes for an imposing but pitiable Imperial officer, Riz Ahmed does the most he can with the severely underdeveloped role of Bodhi Rook, and Donnie Yen steals the whole film as blind monk Chirrut Imwe. 

The main reason I know that the film is a success is that I was left wanting more of everything. All of my major grievances revolve around the notion that I could have used more of the stuff that really worked. More character development, more family drama, more of the fledgling Rebellion, more Mads Mikkelsen. When all of your gripes are centered around the notion that a two hour film doesn't have "enough" in it, I think that's the sign of a pretty successful film.

I'm also pragmatic enough to realize that not everyone shares my opinion of the film. What do you guys think? Now that we've gotten three films from Disney and Lucasfilm, where does Rogue One rank for you? Sound off in the comments section below and let's take the conversation there!

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