David Perlis reviews ‘Rogue One’

EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s begging a thousand pardons time as TVWriter™ acknowledges that we fucked up bigtime. We’ve had David Perlis’ review of Rogue One for months now but totally lost track of its place in our Secret Subterranean Vault, and it only re-surfaced yesterday.

Our apologies to David and Star Wars fandom as a whole for depriving them of David’s opinions back when they were timely. Forgive us – puhleeze!

Okay, David, we’ve abased ourselves enough, yeah? Over to you, dood:

Rogue One Review…Finally!
by David Perlis

THE ACCURATE AND NUANCED PLOT SUMMARY

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…

Young Ian McKellen blackmails bad-guy turned good-guy Galen Erso into building the Death Star. Fifteen years later, Captain-Rebel finds Galen’s daughter Jin (Jyn? Gin? Jen?), to help find Forest Whitaker (a sort of Che Guevara—whose name, I think, actually was Che Guevara), to find the pilot guy, to find Galen, to find the Death Star plans. Along the way, they pick up Donnie Yen and Donnie Yen’s friend. No one knows their names. Not even the writers. CGI Tarkin is taking credit for all of Sir Ian’s work, so Sir Ian complains to Vader, who has a mother fucking castle on Mustafar with a mother fucking BACTA TANK! That was cool. Vader calls Sir Ian whiney (I could have done without Vader’s puns), so Sir Ian flies to Deep Space 9. Galen dies. Jin flies to the planet that DS9 hovers over to steal the Death Star plans. Master switch and satellites abound. More rebels show up and botch everything. Master switch and satellite and a big battle—then Jin steals the plans. The Death Star arrives, and Sir Ian has this rather beautifully moment of realization that his life’s passion is about to pee all over him in the form of a big green Super Laser.

The entire cast is blown up.

And you think it’s over, right? NOPE! ‘Cause just as the rebels escape, Vader shows up, and I swear, it’s the best five minutes in cinematic history. Vader goes fucking ape shit, and even though you know they escape with the plans, you just keep thinking “Jesus Christ! They’re gonna lose! Vader is right there, and they’re gonna fucking lose!” And your concrete memories of exactly what happens in A New Hope are put into serious doubt, but then of course they escape, and the movie ends with a shot of CGI C-Fish saying “Hope.”

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

Got it. But how did yesterday’s far superior and inspired post give a respectable B- to a film that you, yourself, suggested can largely be ignored for a good romp in the sack?

Rogue One is good. Sex is better.

WHY SEX IS BETTER THAN ROGUE ONE

Good sex is better. The kind you have in the back of a packed theatre. With Red Hots. And THX.

The final five or so minutes alone make this movie a blessing in mine eyes. Vader slaughtering the rebels? My oh my!  And there were other moments throughout that really lit me up…can’t think of ’em right now. Anyhoo!—overall, the movie just didn’t suck me in the way a good ole’ garbage chute getaway does. I doubt I’ll be watching Rogue One yearly, as I do with the Original Trilogy—and I chalk that up to a few different things:

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Forest Whitaker’s Che Guevera was cool. Cool like Luke—from Cool Hand Luke. A rebel extremist at odds with our familiar band of heroes. A paranoid, maybe even schizo, cyborg. Hell yeah. I tell ya, I was prepared to watch an anti-hero test our protagonist’s morals and start fucking up best-laid plans in Acts II and III before succumbing to his fatal flaws. Greek drama at its finest. Instead, he’s killed off on the fringe of Acts I and II, never serving more than a hiccup of an obstacle, and adding twenty-odd minutes of “so what?”

I’m not sure what writers saw as Che’s dramatic purpose, but every hope I had for him basically fizzled out with an anti-climactic death. Boo.

By the way, that “fatal flaw” is known as “hammartia” in pretentious drama-speak. Yeeeeep.

MEGO

It’s a criticism one of my 4000-level writing profs turned me onto back in college. MEGO: My Eyes Glazed Over. Like when your mind just won’t process the logorrhea served up to you, but fuck it, you’ll fake it later.

I’m afraid I had my share of Rogue One MEGOs. It usually happens when there’s a lot of lateral plot points, without going deeper into the complexity of existing plot points.

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

Lateral plot points? Wut? MEGO, man! MEGO!

Just sayin, having to find this dude, to get to that dude, cause of this dude…it’s a set series of road bumps that I just want to get to the end of ’cause it could basically be condensed with no real change. I sorta ignored all of Rogue One‘s technical details for the same reason. Hyperdrive doesn’t work? Got it. Need to shut down a tractor beam? Right there with ya. But master switch, ’cause satellite, but the shield and oops tangled power cordwhatever, there’s laser beams, so I’ll just…Yeah. Hand me a Red Hot?

Miss a line of dialogue, and your understanding for the next ten minutes is reduced to “rebels vs Empire.” But it’s at least explosive.

QUESTION FROM THE AUDIENCE

You’re bummin’ me out, man! Can’t you give me something positive?! I already bought my ticket!

No problema! (I’d also like to direct you to my lighter, more respectable post from yesterday).

GALEN ERSO: THE GALAXY’S FIRST SCIENTIST

I bet you never even noticed that Star Wars was scientist-free before now. Didja? Didja?!

Had he spent too much time onscreen, I might have lost interest in Mr. Erso. But oh how those crafty writers kept him elusive and mysterious, perfectly balancing his evil deeds with his misgivings. I love his stoicism. I love his empathy. I love that I remember his name.

Yes, Mr. Erso adds a lovely shade of gray to our “light” and “dark” Star Wars arenas. Gray—just like his beautiful, thick locks. His engineering genius is a welcome addition to our normal cast of philosophers, pilots, smugglers, knights, politicians, bounty hunters, farmers, salesman, and 1960s fry cooks. I wish he would have worn a space visor, but, I can forgive that one.

Galen Erso. Solid A+ for me.

Shit. I just remembered those Kamino cloner dudes. That was pretty sciencey. They’ve ruined my point, and now I hate that movie even more.

Moving on? Moving on.

PILOT GUY

That’s all he will ever be to me: Pilot Guy. Just like “Oversized Munchkin,” Or “Stupid Podracer Kid.” He got us from A to Z by filling gaps other characters couldn’t. But that’s about it. Pilot Guy: Licensed Gap Filler. (I swear, if anyone makes a lewd comment…) And it’s not just Pilot Guy. He’s just the poster child for the others, like Donnie Yen, and Donnie Yen’s friend. Just kinda there. No real dramatic intention. Sometimes you toss him a problem only he can solve—maybe something with the master switch!—but that’s about it.

No, I didn’t much care for Pilot Guy—But this comes with one very important caveat. (“Caveat” may not be the right word, but I can’t think of the one I want. So we’ll stick with “caveat.”)

THE IMPORTANT CAVEAT TO DISLIKING PILOT GUY (AND EVERYONE ELSE)

The capacity to forget Pilot Guys does work beautifully in one way: He may be nothing more than Pilot Guy to me, but you can’t help but feel that, in the long run, that’s all he was to the alliance, too. One of the many forgettable pilot guys. Ya don’t see portraits of him, or Captain-Rebel or Jin Erso lined up at the altar when Luke, Han, and Chewie get their shiny medals, do ya? In our decades long war, lots of people die, and lots of people are forgotten. Rogue One is the story of unsung heroes, and I appreciate that about it.

Rest in peace, Pilot Guy.

The Greatest Success of Rogue One

I think the prime directive (someone’s going to murder me for that one) for Rogue One was to bridge the prequels with the Original Trilogy. A piece of a greater puzzle. From all the small continuity nods (killing off Red Five, anyone?) to the fan boy moments (seriously—Vader in a bacta tank), it satisfies all those little questions we ever had with little complaint. If that’s it’s only job, it does it brilliantly, and I give it an A.

But I feel compelled to look at a movie’s ability to stand on its own two legs, no matter its primary purpose. And for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned, I’ve gotta take it from the A down to the B-. Maybe a B if I’m high.

And there it is, my friends. A much too long, and unnecessary review of Rogue One. Be sure to comment below.


David Perlis is a screenwriter and former People’s Pilot Finalist doing his best to break into the even Bigger Time.