It’s no secret that each new Star Wars film has big shoes to fill. The newest installment Rogue One, has even more to prove since it is not part of the original storyline. But is the new film more of an exercise in branding than a truly great standalone film?
The Denver Post’s John Wenzel seems to think the former. In a review published this week, he did a great job of dissecting the new film (WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW), but did he convince the fan-base that the movie isn't much more than a vehicle to sell more Star Wars merchandise?
Wenzel begins his review with a jab at the original 1977 “Star Wars: Episode IV” for (admittedly) having a glaring plot hole--namely that the Death Star is simply way too easy to blow up. But hey, I’m not sure we die-hard Star Wars fans really care about that faux-pas anyway. It’s part of the charm.
As it happens, the new film reveals that seemingly lax engineering of the Death Star was actually intentional. Dun, dun, dun. Wenzel explains, “In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we learn that it [the blatant vulnerability] was secretly built into the Death Star by scientist Galen Erso, whose goal was to give the Rebel Alliance some hope of defeating it — and the Galactic Empire at large — to atone for his role in designing the planet-killing weapon.”
And you guessed it, in true Star Wars all-in-the-family fashion, the lead character Jyn, is Erso’s daughter. Played by Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Jyn goes from reluctant captive to rebel leader. And more good news; Wenzel notes that her transformation feels earned. There's also a long-overdue more diverse cast!
So, what about the landscapes and cool new characters? This new installment does not disappoint. “Instead of dropping tantalizing glimpses of their exotic charms, he brings solid, unblinking looks at hosts of new creatures and worlds.”
So, after all these high points, how can we imagine it to be only a branding exercise?
According to Wenzel, there are three primary reasons:
“given the prominent callbacks to stock characters, phrases and situations from the saga (hello, Stormtrooper disguises!), Star Wars fans will practically feel Disney’s fingers in their wallets.”
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