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Author Topic: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One  (Read 345 times)

Diego Tutweiller

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Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« on: September 19, 2017, 02:10:49 am »
If you guys recall, this series was originally going to be about The-Film-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. However... I feel another film deserves my more immediate attention, and given the impending release of The Last Jed, I have decided to devote my precious time to tearing apart one of the worst films I've ever seen (perhaps the worst, period)-- Rogue One.




Part One: What is Wisdom?

After finishing part 11 of my Marvel is Destroying America series, I had to ask myself-- where can I go from here? At best, I can squeeze another two installments out of that subject, but I do love to dissect terrible things ad nauseam, in a way that my usual reviews cannot sate. What should be the next target of my unyielding vitriol? What, if anything, deserves the level of hatred I subjected the MCU to?

Enter Rogue One, a film that I didn’t give nearly enough attention upon its release, and which deserves far more picking apart than I’ve subjected it to in the past. Over the course of this series, I’ll get into a lot of nitpicks I had with the film, as well as some much broader complaints. As always, my goal is to construct an argument that even the most ardent Rogue One fan could not defend the film against. Every facet of this film is so objectionable, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start off with something easy. Something about the film that is objectively, inarguably horrible.

I’m speaking, of course, about Donnie Yen’s character in the film-- “Chirrut,” or “Chipotle,” or whatever he was called-- and the challenge of writing a “wise” character.

Star Wars deals in archetypes, and the franchise would be nothing without the archetype of the wise old sage. This type of character is as old as dirt. He will dispense bits of wisdom and bite-size profundities that motivate the hero, at the same time making the audience think and ponder for a minute. I’ve made a lot of noise about how poorly-written blockbusters have been recently, complaining that writers have gotten extremely lazy with their dialogue and characterization. But if there’s one kind of character you can’t fudge, it’s this one. If you’re not an intelligent writer, you won’t be able to write this kind of dialogue. No Alex Kurtzman or Roberto Orci could pull a character like this off.

Take a minute to think of the characters like this who you love. The ones that captured your imagination as a kid, and whose wisdom you only really came to understand as an adult. For older generations, it might be Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings books, or (more appropriately) Yoda. For my generation, the best example is probably Albus Dumbledore. Tywin Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire series flirts with this category as well-- he’s not someone to be admired, but he does dispense some very compelling pieces of wisdom throughout the course of the books. What it comes down to is that these are not only intelligent characters, they are also written intelligently. These are two very different things. In short, it’s the difference between this:



And this:



I suppose, on the most basic level, this sounds like some kind of zen proverb. But what does it mean? The answer is, simply put, nothing. This is bumper-sticker philosophy-- it only sounds good if you don’t think about it. “I am one with the Force” conjures up thoughts of Buddhism (oddly enough, Disney cast an Asian actor here, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence), but while Obi-Wan and Yoda would discuss the Force in other Star Wars films, they would also dispense real-life wisdom that had applications in our day-to-day lives. On its own, this is useless to us, and we have no idea what Yen means by it. “The Force is with me” is just a slight deviation from “May the Force be with you”-- again, a catchy slogan, but meaningless when not supported by any real philosophy, wisdom, or creative thinking.

To answer the question posed by this essay’s title, I don’t know what wisdom is. But I know what wisdom isn’t. And this line-- which Donnie Yen repeats about three hundred fucking times throughout the course of Rogue One-- is not wisdom. It is a screenwriter trying to compensate for his inability to come up with something genuinely profound. It would be excusable if this were only said once or twice, and accompanied by other lines that actually carried some weight, but that is not the case. It is, essentially, the only thing that Yen’s character says in the movie, aside from a few minor variations on this theme.

Am I surprised that a writer best known for The Golden Compass and a Twilight movie lacked the insight to create even one interesting piece of wisdom for his two-hour screenplay? Not really. However, I’m pretty shocked that this obscenely lazy, uninspired hack job was the best he could do. Normally when writers don’t know how to write for intelligent characters, they try their best to cover it up. Superman’s father in The-Film-That-Must-Not-Be-Named, the kid from Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Salma Hayek’s character in Beatriz at Dinner-- I could go on. There are a multitude of examples of bad screenwriters masking their stupidity in witless, dry monologuing, or supposedly “deep” one-liners that, upon close examination, don’t make a lick of sense. It’s usually fairly obvious, but in Rogue One, the writers didn’t even have the decency to fake it. What did they come up with in place of real wisdom? “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”

And it seems to have had the desired effect. Whenever I discuss this film with people (even people whose opinions I respect), the conversation invariably comes back to “Donnie Yen’s character was badass.” Upon being asked to elaborate, they usually say something to the effect of “He was such a wise character.” But what proof is there of this? Why is this character wise? What does he do in the film that demonstrates wisdom, or even intelligence? What does he say that earns the audience’s respect?

In 1980, moviegoers fell in love with the character of Yoda for a reason. Not a scene went by with that character in which he did not demonstrate deep, compelling wisdom. His nuggets of genius have become so ingrained in the cultural mainstream that people have forgotten why they were so special. His introduction, in which he feigns stupidity to determine what kind of a man Luke is, is brilliant screenwriting, and even while pretending to be senile, he hits the audience with the line “Wars not make one great.” It forces us to pause, rethink our preconceptions, and wonder if this odd little green gnome is more than he appears to be.

In Rogue One, Donnie Yen smacks the shit out of some bad guys with a stick while repeating one line of dialogue.

This is why Rogue One, to me, is what would happen if a computer program tried to make a Star Wars movie. The computer understands the concept of a “wise” character, and it understands that such a character needs to be in the film, or else Star Wars loses some of its mysticism. However, the computer does not have any conception of what wisdom actually is, and if it does, it is incapable of putting it into words. Instead of attempting to do so, it copy+pastes repetitive, monotonous dialogue, in the hopes that stupid people will be tricked into thinking that something of deeper meaning is going on here.

As far as I’m concerned, this line is a microcosm of everything wrong with Disney Wars. It’s the absolute minimum amount of effort necessary in order to create something that bears even a passing resemblance to creativity. Believe me, I could write essays of this length (or longer) on dozens of lines in these films. With part two of this series, I’ll try to be more expansive. But this line frustrates me to no end. It is an empty, lifeless corporate product, devoid of meaning, artistically bankrupt, and without a drop of original thought in it. Harsh? Perhaps. But I don’t think it’s unfair to ask more from our entertainment. Especially when, like in the case of Rogue One, it scrapes the bottom of the barrel.

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Tho Master Fie

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2017, 04:49:20 am »
"He's one with the force, and the force is with him.  I distinctly remember him saying it".

Frankie

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 10:19:36 am »
This film might just be worse than the prequels.

That's how terrible and worthless it is.

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 11:12:21 am »
Crazy how someone could go from Godzilla (2014) to this.  I know he's not to blame 100% considering Disney seems to shut out a director's creative vision in favor of a formula they churn out, but still, that's sad.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2017, 11:29:22 am »
"He's one with the force, and the force is with him.  I distinctly remember him saying it".

That was the moment when I knew I had to retire the JohnBot character. I was never going to top that.

Caleb Paasche

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2017, 03:06:57 pm »
I still distinctly remember walking out of the theater after seeing this and just not being able to understand why the reactions of others were positive.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2017, 04:13:38 pm »
I still distinctly remember walking out of the theater after seeing this and just not being able to understand why the reactions of others were positive.

It's the worst Star Wars film. And it's not very close, either.

Jeffblum

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2017, 05:44:57 pm »
I only know one truth.

It's time for Star Wars... to end.
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J. Kashmir

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2017, 06:18:13 pm »
I guess the reason Chirrut stands out among the cast (faint praise, I know) is more due to Donnie Yen's likability as an actor. Yeah, the script didn't do him any favors but for me he left a decent enough impression to where I could at least remember his name.

This film was probably my Phantom Menace experience.

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2017, 06:24:54 pm »
I never saw Chirrut as an interpretation of a "wise guy" type character, but maybe that's just me.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2017, 06:33:40 pm »
I never saw Chirrut as an interpretation of a "wise guy" type character, but maybe that's just me.

Joe Pesci is a "wise guy." I'd agree that the two don't have a lot in common.

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2017, 06:38:02 pm »
I never saw Chirrut as an interpretation of a "wise guy" type character, but maybe that's just me.

Joe Pesci is a "wise guy." I'd agree that the two don't have a lot in common.

Lmao I worded that very poorly.
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Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2017, 06:48:38 pm »
I never saw Chirrut as an interpretation of a "wise guy" type character, but maybe that's just me.

Joe Pesci is a "wise guy." I'd agree that the two don't have a lot in common.

Lmao I worded that very poorly.

What are you, Moody? Some type'a wise guy or sumtin'?

Caleb Paasche

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2017, 08:42:21 pm »
I still distinctly remember walking out of the theater after seeing this and just not being able to understand why the reactions of others were positive.

It's the worst Star Wars film. And it's not very close, either.
I think Attack of the Clones is slightly worse and Phantom Menace is close, but it's been a while since I saw those (especially Phantom Menace).

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2017, 08:49:47 pm »
I still distinctly remember walking out of the theater after seeing this and just not being able to understand why the reactions of others were positive.

It's the worst Star Wars film. And it's not very close, either.
I think Attack of the Clones is slightly worse and Phantom Menace is close, but it's been a while since I saw those (especially Phantom Menace).

I don't really care all that much about Star Wars as a franchise-- I'm satisfied just with the Original Trilogy-- so I get a lot of enjoyment out of the prequels on a so-bad-it's-good level. When they're good (which is rare) they're a lot of fun; when they're bad, they're hilarious.

I get no enjoyment out of these Disney Wars films. I bought the prequels, but I would never buy these.

The One Who Lurks

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2017, 03:58:35 pm »
My little brother and I rewatched Kung Fu Panda just a few days ago.

It's actually kinda astounding how that movie managed to have such a more smartly written "wise old sage" character than this 200-million-dollar blockbuster.

Diego Tutweiller

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2017, 09:01:27 pm »
My little brother and I rewatched Kung Fu Panda just a few days ago.

It's actually kinda astounding how that movie managed to have such a more smartly written "wise old sage" character than this 200-million-dollar blockbuster.

Haven't seen any of those films, but the smallest modicum of effort would immediately put it leagues ahead of Rogue One.

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2017, 09:19:22 pm »
My little brother and I rewatched Kung Fu Panda just a few days ago.

It's actually kinda astounding how that movie managed to have such a more smartly written "wise old sage" character than this 200-million-dollar blockbuster.

Haven't seen any of those films, but the smallest modicum of effort would immediately put it leagues ahead of Rogue One.

I feel like I remember you saying at one point that you gave the first Kung fu Panda a 2/10.
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Cutler de Chateau

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2017, 09:21:11 pm »
My little brother and I rewatched Kung Fu Panda just a few days ago.

It's actually kinda astounding how that movie managed to have such a more smartly written "wise old sage" character than this 200-million-dollar blockbuster.

Haven't seen any of those films, but the smallest modicum of effort would immediately put it leagues ahead of Rogue One.

I feel like I remember you saying at one point that you gave the first Kung fu Panda a 2/10.

I remember that too. 

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Re: Anatomy of a Disaster: Diego Dissects Rogue One
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2017, 09:22:08 pm »
My little brother and I rewatched Kung Fu Panda just a few days ago.

It's actually kinda astounding how that movie managed to have such a more smartly written "wise old sage" character than this 200-million-dollar blockbuster.

Haven't seen any of those films, but the smallest modicum of effort would immediately put it leagues ahead of Rogue One.
9/10 film right there.
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