Writing Movie “WRONGS”
By Jim West
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta
I am usually one to say film should NOT be split into two films just for sake of profits, and this is just the case for films based upon bestselling books like Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Yet for this film it actually, and honestly needed a second film to expand upon character development. With two screenplay and two story writers combined, and the news of reshoots and re-edits of this film it is easy to tell that this film had a personality disorder.
First of all, our heroine Jyn Erso, played passively by Felicity Jones, isn’t given much to do other than be a plot point because of her father. The trailers for this film would mislead you to believe she has a bigger part in the mission to retrieve the plans for the Death Star. Mislead they do as it really falls to the men surrounding her to ‘save her’. Now one scene they show her taking a club and beating up some Stormtroopers, but by the film’s end they have another guy save her from a confrontation with the film’s main bad guy. Geez I see the galaxy has come a far ways to expanding on gender equality and female empowerment. Blah.
This film forgoes the title crawls we are accustomed to from other Star Wars films, and it definitely needed to with so much going on this film felt as if it was on hyper drive the whole time. As if they tried to cram as much as they could in their running time. Big mistake. Spoilers ahead!
The biggest failure of this film is that you have little or no time with all of the characters that the writer’s want you to care about so that when they kill them off in battle you just don’t feel the emotional impact. In fact, I already knew the whole team would bite the bullet. Even Forrest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera character gets less than what feels like 5 minutes screen time. To get people to connect with characters you either have to show a tragedy much akin to Bruce Wayne watching his parents get murdered, or you just flat out need time to bond. The most logical end point for a first film out of this one is when Jyn finds her father and he dies in her arms. Then end the film with the banding up for their ‘rogue’ mission. Film two could then really expand upon flashbacks and further character development to let the viewers connect more and when their deaths come really feel a loss.
Also in a first film, you can take some time to show perhaps a montage of Jyn growing up under Saw Gerrera’s (Forrest Whitaker) care and becoming his best soldier as he says to her. We as fans are simply left to assume she is a great fighter. Again I am a fan of montages. Perhaps it’s from being a child of the 80’s, but how else can we see her progression to capable fighter? Then there are the two characters played by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen who appear just in the right place at the right time…just too deus ex machina for me even for a Star Wars movie. I would have inserted a sequence showing them ousted from their jobs as protectors of the temple and then crossing paths with Jyn. Just poor setup of a scene. Now the jokes and dialogue is good. Don’t get me wrong there. K-2SO the droid has some of the best lines in the film. I give the writers credit on bringing levity to the film. Yet without the emotional connection to these characters you cannot feel the rise in stakes and their deaths are like ‘meh’.
I am not sure the original direction the film first meant to head in, and it does serve ample fan service with digital representations of Grand Moff Tarkin, R2D2, C3PO, and Princess Leia. Yet if you want this film to go from good to great…you need better writing and a studio with the confidence in the writing to allow for two films to be cut. This is a film that so deserved to be either 45 minutes longer or split into two films.
Thanks for reading Writing Movie ‘WRONGS’.