Two Reasons I Liked Rogue One

Reminder: Don’t forget about free books!

I feel like this post doesn’t need much of a prelude. Chances are that anyone reading has already seen the newest Star Wars story and doesn’t care about reviews or spoilers, so this is basically a structured rant about a fun adventure/war film. Because I like that sort of thing.

Cinematography…

So yes, I’ve seen Rogue One! I actually watched it about a week before I went to see Doctor Strange (which of course resulted in me wondering why Kaecilius looked so familiar), because although I’m not a Star Wars fan per se, the trailers caught my interest. It didn’t seem like the traditional huge space epic, but more like a smaller and more intricate war movie, which quite honestly appealed to me.

Now you’ve probably heard all the complaining: the pacing was off, the battles were tactless, the characterization was stuffy… and I can definitely agree with most of it. But in spite of all that, I still enjoyed the film. I can’t explain my thoughts precisely in a single sentence, but the closest I can get is this: Despite its mechanical flaws, Rogue One is a genius story idea that taught me two big lessons about writing. And- you guessed it- we’re talking about those two lessons today.

Cue the “blog post proper” theme song…

Reason #1: Most epic use of a plot hole.

Or a ventilation hole, come to think of it.

Anytime I think of plot holes, I think of How it Should Have Ended. Have you heard of it? HISHE is a comedy channel on YouTube that parodies popular movies by asking the question, “Why didn’t they just do X instead of Y?” Thus, they rewrite plots and plot holes and totally change the ending of a movie, to everyone’s amusement. (Note: I didn’t provide a link because HISHE isn’t always clean, and I don’t want to be yelled at for letting little kids watch it. Sorry, kids.)

Now as a moviegoer and fan, I appreciate such parodies and laugh when they humorously point out gaping plot holes. But, as a storyteller, I have a certain fear gnawing at the back of my mind- how does any writer end up with such glaring flaws? Authors’ worst nightmares consist of two things: plot holes, and no book sales. And if we overlook our plot holes, we also get no book sales. Lose-lose.

Well, now let’s talk about the genius of Rogue One.

I imagine that the brainstorming session looked something like this. A bunch of Star Wars fans who also had a thing for storytelling looked at one of the most famous plot holes of all time: why the heck was there a hole in the Death Star that led to the core of the machine? The question had been plaguing fans for years, and these storytellers dared to answer it: The hole was there because the rebels put it there.

For those of you who don’t know, the whole concept of Rogue One is that the guy who designed the Death Star realized too late the destruction it could bring, and he built in a secret weakness with the intent that the rebels could find it and destroy the weapon. Now, the daughter of that engineer and her team of rebels are out to find the plans and bring them to the Resistance.

Thus, what used to be a gaping plot hole becomes an epic heist film.

mind blown

Yeah, that’s how to tell a story.

Lesson learned: seek out and work with the plot holes. They can help you tell a better story.

Reason #2: The bravely creative ending.

Hope.

*spoilers warning spoilers warning spoilers warning*

Let us not mince words.

Everyone dies. 

Seriously, how insane is that? Let’s just leave aside the terrifying awesomeness of Darth Vader- although that, too, was a fantastic scene that no one will ever forget. Think about it; the last twenty or so minutes of the movie is literally a series of death scenes and sequels, which, I think, is quite a fitting end to a war movie about a Resistance team. It’s probably my favorite aspect of the movie: I got to watch a group of regular, courageous people give their lives for what they believed in. It drove the theme home so hard. I get goosebumps thinking about it.

You probably won’t believe this, but at the beginning of the movie, I took a bite of popcorn and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if they all died on this mission so that the rebels could save the galaxy? -But no, that’s crazy. No way would that work.”

And then it happened! Intentionally or not, the story set up a wild idea in my mind and then fulfilled it beyond all expectations.

sherlock benedict cumberbatch sherlock approves

But I have to stop and ask myself, how did that production meeting go? We writers know how it is when we kill just one character; what about a whole cast? There’s always that one lady who despises watching characters die- death is heartwrenching! There’s the money guy who’s still holding out for a sequel- no sequels unless you have characters! And then the focus groups analyst who says that killing characters makes people angry- look what happened to The Walking Dead!

Yet, despite all the craziness surrounding it, the production team went for it. And am I ever glad they did.

It’s the bravest endings that stick with us. Resolutions needn’t always be bleak, nor even tragic, but they should always be a fitting close to the tale we’re telling. And sometimes that means asking questions that sound insane:

What if the Greeks built a giant wooden horse?

What if Romeo and Juliet actually kill themselves?

What if the whole team dies on the planet?

Lesson learned: Ask the crazy questions; go for the extreme endings. They may turn out to be the most memorable stories. 

Well, here we are. No matter if you liked Rogue One or not, I think we can all take a lesson or two from the imaginations behind it, as well as learn from its failures. That’s the thing about movies- there has never been a film that can’t teach us something about writing. And now, thanks to one particular Star Wars Story, I’m inspired to be a braver writer than before.

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15 thoughts on “Two Reasons I Liked Rogue One

  1. goes first to get the free book Hahah HTSHE! I love those things (yeah they are not always clean kids ask ma and pa first). I actually saw Rouge One before I saw Doctor Strange too (now it was a bigger gap than you but whatever I finally watched it) I’m not a big star wars fan either but I did like the movie. I really liked the ending though. As I was watching it I was like I really hope they all die, it would work better for the other movies”

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  2. Yeah like 2 days ago! okay I actually did a post about why I don’t like Doctor Strange (can be found here http://marrokmacintyre.blogspot.com/ but don’t feel like you have to read it I’ll try to sum it up) but movie wise it was okay-ish. It was light and funny but there was a heavy presence of Western Mysticism and New Ageism. I didn’t see any Christian elements like others have said it has. I did see a lot of the comic Strange in the movie Strange (duh he is based off the comic Strange) and there is just so much about comic Strange that I don’t like. A few of them being.. He uses demons, he breaks his own “rules”, and his butthead-ness. In the movie they did take a lighter tone to all the sorcery by saying it was really just interdimensional energy. But still this energy is only available through incantations/spell casting. There is also the fact that to use this interdimensional energy Doctor Strange used summoning circles. I really can’t get behind a character who uses things like that. So yeah even though the movie is a very light Doctor Strange I still don’t like him or anything he has to do with. Now that is just me. Not trying to force my opinions/views on you or anyone else. Just giving my thoughts on it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually went and read your post because your comment intrigued me. I’ve never read a comic book in my life, so your summary of the demonic elements in the books was quite helpful for me. I agree that Dr Strange is definitely not a “Christian” film. I think most people who say that mean that it’s got a big redemption and sacrifice message that is distinctly Christian, despite the occult elements. That said, this film is not for everyone, and not something to just watch lightly. Good explanation, and thanks for sharing the details about the comics!

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      • Oh well thanks for that! I do think we should be aware of things like that especially when we want to label something as having a more or less Christian message because the unsaved/weaker Christians can be mislead into thinking that is what Christian is like. Thanks for wanting to hear/reading my opinion on Doctor Strange. I know what I talked about usually don’t take well with his fans

        Liked by 1 person

        • And thank you for being courteous yet willing to share a your thoughts! That’s why it’s so important to listen to other opinions- people who love the good things in a movie may overlook the bad, and vice versa.

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  3. I was very impressed with Rogue One for both of those reasons, and also because Jyn and Cassian were NOT IN LOVE. They were best friends. Saving the world together. Best friend love. Not romantic love.
    And yes. Rogue One will also make me a braver writer. Time to start killing off all those characters… :F

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, I totally loved the ending of Rogue One as well! And I don’t even like Star Wars either. When I first started watching the movie, I thought to myself “they better all die, because that is the only thing that is gonna work with the timeline, and have meaning to it.” So… when it happened… I was like “wooohooo!” I know that sounds so wrong, but… I really liked the ending!
    And on another note… I GOT YOUR BOOK!!!! =D Looking forward to reading it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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