For film fans, the Olympics finally justified their existence last night by being host to the premiere of the new Rogue One: A Star Wars trailer, the first to officially acknowledge Darth Vader will be in this movie. Within minutes of its debut, my Twitter feed was overflowing with rough approximations of this:
Within an hour, YouTube personalities like Emergency Awesome had already posted their overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction videos breaking down all the easter eggs and plot reveals.
It’s 13 hours later now meaning I’m approximately 12 hours too late to be writing a reaction article about this trailer. Countless sites and YouTubers have already broken down the trailer frame by frame to suss out any plot details because who really wants mystery anymore. Comments sections have predictably erupted into flame wars, with many of the Ghostbusters haters now moving on to hating Rogue One because it is the second consecutive Star Wars to dare to have a female lead.
And I mostly just feel like a cranky old man. I watched the trailer last night. It’s fine. This is supposed to be the one which communicates plot whereas the earlier trailer communicated tone. However, I think the plot still comes off as slightly jumbled in this trailer. This is a movie about a bunch of mercenary-types who band together to pull off a heist against a big bad. That kind of plot is easily distilled in trailer form (e.g., Magnificent Seven and Oceans 11), yet by the time we reach the group shot at the end of Rogue One we still have no idea who most of these people are, a bunch of Redshirts who’ll probably die.
Still, that shot of Felicity Jones staring down a Tie fighter is masterfully put together. Plus, both Donnie Yen as the blind Force-sensitive dude with the sword and Alan Tudyk as the voice of a surly robot could be scene-stealers.
No, don’t do it, Kelly. Keep steering this back toward positive comments. Think happy thoughts. Don’t be a Debbie Downer.
What did I say? Look at all those views other sites and YouTubers get by spreading the hype and feeding the beast. Fuck, Chris Hardwick has built his whole entire media empire off of him loving everything geek-related, and now Kevin Smith is doing the same thing. Come on. Think about what you’re doing here. Be a cheerleader, not another mad dude yelling on the internet. No one wants to hang out with that guy:
What is the point of this movie? Why do we need to see the story of how the rebels got the plans to the first Death Star? If this doesn’t in some way directly inform The Force Awakens or Episode 8 then what are we even doing here? As fellow WeMinoredInFilm writer Julianne joked with me earlier today today, you might as well call this Star Wars: Filler or Star Wars: Brand Extension. Sure, I’ll watch it because Disney will pump my nephew so full of advertising that there’s no way this won’t turn into a family trip to the movies come Christmas, which is a new annual tradition I appreciate, but I’d much rather see Episode 8. Should Rogue One turn out to directly inform the new trilogy films then I’ll gladly eat my words, but, seriously, this better not just be a standalone adventure.
Furthermore, holy crap do I not care about Darth Vader anymore. We’ve had 6 movies with this guy, 6 seasons of The Clone Wars, 2 seasons of Star Wars Rebels, a bunch of LEGO animated specials and now a running, surprisingly cool Marvel comic book line. His ghost practically haunted The Force Awakens. He is a pop culture icon, but he’s also a pop culture icon whose story is long since over. The more we’ve learned about him the weaker he has become as a character and symbol. Rogue One will likely aim to restore some of that mystery and menace he possessed in A New Hope, but I like that the new generation has their own Darth Vader now in the form of Kylo Ren. Selling a movie on the appeal of Darth feels like a step back, especially after Force Awakens already echoed Vader in its trailers. This is the type of box office risk-weary decision which resulted in the Joker being inserted into Suicide Squad.
Lastly, we’ve all been fooled by trailers, good or bad, before, and I’m sure all of those post-Suicide Squad “The Joker’s not in it as much as I thought he would be” complaints will be repeated with Darth Vader and Rogue One. Similarly, Rogue One is, by all accounts, a troubled production which the studio is trying to fix in post because they don’t like how dark the movie turned out. Sound familiar, Suicide Squad fans? At last check the director, Gareth Edwards, has been forced to take on a collaborator to help him fix things. I previously gave Disney the benefit of the doubt, but after Suicide Squad I’m kind of over offering Hollywood that courtesy.
I’ll probably come back to this article in December and feel foolish and regret how much I gave in to cynicism. If so, great, because that’ll mean Rogue One turned out to be a movie which justifies its own existence. But for now all I can muster is a big bah-humbug.