By Travis Trombley
Such a villain would see the Death Star not as a career achievement, but as a tool to crush the hope of the rebellion, cause them to turn on one another in desperation. It would be his (or her) goal to defeat not just physically, but mentally and spiritually those antagonistic to the Empire. In contrast, the rebels would have to discover and affirm their internal motivations to keep fighting against such odds, and to do so in collaboration with one another. Instead, Krennic and his ambitions provide a framework for plot progression, but do little in the way of thematic development.
And this pretty well defines Rogue One’s tendency to privilege plot over everything else. The first fifteen minutes hint at an exploration of the gritty, imperial climate in which the famous rebellion of the original series burgeoned. We see an imperial officer hunt down and coerce an old colleague into service, we see a rebel agent shoot an informant in order to escape arrest, we see our protagonist assert a cynical apathy over altruism, old school Han Solo style, and we watch an Imperial tank suffocate a city street, imposing the Empire’s strength on the citizens of Jeddah and the image of occupation into viewers’ minds.
But that’s about all it. A few hours of blaster fire, Michael Giacchino scores, and classic character cameos later, it becomes clear that Rogue One, scripted by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, is a film too concerned with doing something novel within the Star Wars universe that it forgot to do something compelling.