Friends and even work colleagues kept bugging me about Rogue One for over a year now. “It’s the best of them,” they all said. “If you had to see one of the new movies, it’s definitely Rogue One! You’ll love it!”
So I watched it.
First thing I noticed: the laws of physics are different with Disney. Two star destroyers of equal mass collide in orbit, and the first ship cuts through the second one like a red-hot spatula across a slice of thin-crust veggie pizza. That’s just plain impossible. If two objects of equal mass collide, both are supposed to sustain equal damage. Where the hell is this big heap of nonsense coming from?
Then we have the destruction of Jedha. It’s a small town on top of a canyon, the size of seven or eight modern city blocks – the fallout of that destruction isn’t supposed to be that immense, and it cannot continue for, like, six entire minutes. It reminded me of that J.J. Abrams film with the enormous (literal) train wreck, and railcars that keep falling out of the sky for an entire two-minute scene. No kidding. There’s even some dialogue between the characters in the meanwhile – and then another train wagon comes crashing down behind them, boom. Physics 101, guys. Breathe.
Second thing I noticed: the tower of Orthanc. What the heck is Darth Vader doing in friggin’ Isengard? The Disney people decided that Vader should have his own awesome villain’s lair and that it was long overdue, so they gave him a whole volcano planet with a sinister pointy black tower in the middle of nowhere. That’s ridiculous. Darth Vader ought to live on Coruscant near the Emperor’s palace, or even in that palace. Bormann was in Berlin, with Hitler. Pence lives in Washington, near Trump. Think about it. His own isolated planet with a vaguely Muslim name – if that’s not the most counterproductive thing ever, I don’t know what is.
So, Darth Vader is Saruman, the good Maia (Jedi) who turned evil and allied himself with Sauron (Darth Sidious). Did they figure that out two years ago, or did they give the tower of Orthanc to Vader unconsciously? Either way, this is incredibly lame.
Third thing: consistency. They think they have it right, but they sure don’t. In ‘77, it was an “intercepted transmission” Vader was looking for. Now it’s a hard drive that is passed from hand to hand down the length of a corridor, all the way to the hatch of Leia’s consular ship. That right there is one BIG inconsistency.
Leia’s ship jumps into hyperspace; Vader’s star destroyer jumps into hyperspace; Leia’s ship exits hyperspace near Tatooine; Vader’s star destroyer also exits hyperspace near Tatooine – and captures Leia.
Okay. Fleeing isn’t an option anymore.
Strangely enough, that is the part that irked me the most. In the Star Wars universe, once your ship jumps into hyperspace – you’re safe. You are gone. No enemy will be able to track you, unless they know your ship’s exact course beforehand, which, in the case of Leia’s ship at the end of Rogue One, is absolutely impossible.
But Darth Vader’s ship is still in pursuit during the opening sequence of A New Hope, right? How can that be? Why then didn’t Vader pursue the Millennium Falcon at the end of The Empire Strikes Back? This would have gotten him straight to the Alliance fleet!
If we posit that Scarif is located along the Manda Merchant Road, then Leia’s ship disappears somewhere towards the Western Reaches. That general direction offers a lot of possibilities: Tatooine, Geonosis, Naboo, Dagobah, Bespin, Hoth, Endor, and scores of other systems. Where’s the Rebel base in all of that? It’s like trying to find a needle in a galactic haystack. Vader has to guess. Maybe that ship isn’t going back to the Rebel base right away. But why wouldn’t it? Maybe Alderaan? What’s more important and pressing than securing the stolen plans that just cost them so many lives? What’s the exact bearing of the Tantive IV (Leia’s consular ship), and how long do they intend to remain in hyperspace – because, of course, a difference of a few minutes may take you to the next system, and a difference of one degree may take you through a red giant star!
How did Vader get it right? And don’t say, “The Force,” either. He couldn’t sense the Rebels on Hoth without wasting millions of Palpatine’s precious dollars on probes.
Look at what Disney did here. They wanted to seamlessly link the end of Rogue One with the beginning of A New Hope, and they wanted this so bad, they broke something fundamentally canon in order to achieve it. Bravo, guys!
Other noteworthy failures
Why is Galen Erso stepping up to prevent evil Imperial engineers from being executed? It makes no sense at all. This guy built a flaw in the Death Star’s reactor that will eventually kill eighty thousand stormtroopers and other Imperial personnel, but he draws the line at... six Imperial engineers?
Make up your mind, Galen. Do you want the Imperials to perish, or not? You know you can’t win if you’re not sure, don’t you? You need to be sure. You need to be adamant. You need to be consistent.
There’s also a huge problem with Grand Moff Tarkin. The man is just too much for me to digest, really. Who the fuck does he think he is? He orders the bombing of the Imperial laboratory on Eadu, and then uses the Death Star to completely destroy the main Imperial data center on Scarif. By my rough calculations, it amounts to 5 billion dollars’ worth of infrastructure. Man, I’d love to be a fly on the wall during his next audience with the Emperor...
PALPATINE: “Approach, Governor Tarkin. It has been quite a while, isn’t it?”
TARKIN: “It has, Your Highness.”
PALPATINE: “You appointed yourself as commander of my new battle station?”
TARKIN: “A temporary decision, Your Highness. Purely informal. Krennic was untrustworthy. Of course, you can now appoint anyone else you want to that post.”
PALPATINE: “I probably will, Governor. Maybe you are of a mind to govern the whole Empire, are you?”
TARKIN: “Of course not, Highness. I’d never think that––”
PALPATINE: “You also blew up our base on Scarif.”
TARKIN: “A necessary sacrifice, Your Highness. Rebel intruders got inside the Tower...”
PALPATINE: “How many Rebels? Five hundred?”
TARKIN: “Uh, more like five, Your Highness.”
PALPATINE: “You vaporized sixteen thousand officers, highly trained technicians, troopers and Imperial droids, just to get rid of five Rebels?”
PALPATINE: “This facility was worth billions, Governor. Did you ever think about that?”
TARKIN: “You don’t understand, Highness––”
PALPATINE: “Thread lightly, Governor. What is it you think I don’t understand?”
PALPATINE: “Go back to the Death Star, there to await my orders. Do not blow anything up on a whim. It is a battle station, not your personal toy. And the cost of rebuilding Scarif and the crystal refineries on Eadu will, of course, be deducted from your pay.”
I did it. I saw “the best of them all”. I honestly don’t feel the urgent need to watch the others. One movie a year, that’s a bit too much. As for The Last Jedi, from what I read on Twitter, critics loved it, but the fans, not so much. Why am I not surprised? Critics won’t bite the hand that feeds them.
Let’s not forget one thing here. The new films are written by fanboys and fangirls: people like me, who saw Star Wars back in the late seventies when they were kids. Now, unlike me, they work at Disney and they’re on a high – blinded by their sheer love of the franchise. But a fan movie remains a fan movie, whatever the Intellectual Property documents might say. Same way a cover band remains a cover band, even if you happen to legally acquire the rights to the songs you play. “Dave’s Iron Maiden” will never be Iron Maiden, despite Dave’s very best efforts.