Why we all need to stop worrying about ‘Rogue One’…
Well. That’s it then. The internet’s gone and decided. The first Star-Wars prequel, ‘Rogue One’, is officially doomed. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, and Disney ain’t happy about it….
Which is a little on the unexpected side, and certainly very different to any feedback that the project has been receiving up until this point. So what’s going on?
Well, according to a number of online news sites, audience reactions to test screenings of the movie have been poor, which has lead to Disney ordering four weeks of reshoots. They feel the movie is too much of a ‘war movie’, and this has in turn lead to a rift between the studio and director Gareth Edwards. Which all sounds ominous. So how seriously should we be taking this news?
Well. Not at all, if you ask us, and here’s why:
The fact people feel the need to have to defend a film that’s still actually in production is a indictment on where we are these days. You’ve almost got to feel a little bit sorry for filmmakers. As if it isn’t difficult enough trying to keep a project under wraps, every man and his dog owns a camera equipped smartphone these days, there’s no such thing as a ‘secure email’ any more, and studios seem quite happy for toy producers and merchandising companies to carelessly showcase the plot points months in advance.
And then there’s the rise of ‘Internet journalism’. When these rumours surface, a little bit of digging usually reveals that only one site has actually produced the story, and 30 more have quickly reproduced it, slightly altering the punctuation and spelling, so as not to be seen to be missing ‘the scoop’.
This ‘test-screening’ angle is the latest in a series of quick-fix, lazy click-baiting article trends. Slap on an unrelated picture, add a crazy headline, and hide the fact it’s an unsupported anonymous quote in a larger body of text.
Six months before BVS came out, these sites allegedly had an ‘exclusive scoop’ from the text screenings, which spoke of Green Lantern hiding amidst the cast, and the whole Justice League coming together for a closing battle scene with kryptonite-armed satellites controlled by Lex Luthor. Needless to say, that turned out to be utter bollocks, as do most of these rumours. Let’s remember, the priority of these sites is for you to visit them, not report the facts.
And unsurprisingly the backtracking has already started. Not two days after the article broke, we’re now informed that they weren’t test-screenings after all, but a private showing for studio execs. So there’s not actually been any audience feedback to work from at all. You see where I’m going with this? Not that the sites care. They’ve had your click to boost their advertising revenue, and a nice little story has now gone viral for them to build on….
4. Shoot first, ask questions later…
So let’s break down the other reported ‘facts’ around this article. First up, what about these ‘four weeks of expensive reshoots’ that have been allegedly ordered? Sounds scary, right? Not really….
Reshoot rumours are another favourite of the Internet scare-mongers, and go hand in hand with the ‘test-screening’ reports. The simple fact is that every filming shoot factors the possibility of reshooting into its schedule. And franchise films in particular will always tinker with their footage and adapt to feedback from previous movies in the series, as well as their own test screenings.
Every comic book adap this year has incorporated reshoots into their projects, including (bombshell) ‘The Force Awakens’ itself. And just to muddy the waters, the same news sites similarly reported that ‘Suicide Squad’ was undergoing the same expensive reshooting in the wake of criticism of BVS, are now reporting that test screenings to the finished article are very positive. Go figure….
Next up, what about these execs being allegedly unhappy because Rogue One is too much of a ‘war movie’. Hang on a minute. Isn’t the Star-Wars franchise built on the back of the biggest intergalactic war that science-fiction has ever seen?
Every Star Wars movie tends to end with a triple-threader of action set-pieces set across multiple battlefields at the same stage of the conflict. Nearly all of the characters involved are soldiers of some kind, and the best scenes from the franchise come from fighting and battles.
Where this film differs from previous offerings is that it’s the first that isn’t designed to be part of a trilogy. It’s a standalone, so of course the tone is going to be different, because although it will fit in with the overall narrative, it’s got to fit into a two hour time period. There’s no planned sequel at this stage to expand these new characters or their stories. If it wasn’t going to be a war movie, then just what the hell was the studio expecting?
2. Who’s in the driving seat?
Obviously the main parallel that nearly all of these sites are drawing at this point is with Josh Trank’s ‘Fantastic Four’ debacle. I can understand in a way, why that’s the case. Critics love a failure. After all, it keeps them in business, and FF was the biggest and most painful flop in recent memory. But it was in a very different place to this movie.
Pretty much anything with the name ‘Star-Wars’ slapped in front of it will be a commercial success, that’s a given. Sure, they’ve produced weak material along the way, but even these weaker offerings eventually find their own beloved place in the history of the Star Wars franchise. Fantastic Four was a much harder sell. Prior to Trank’s effort, all the other attempts to make the FF a success has failed. Mainly because they’re not very interesting. They’re just too comical, not fitting into either the MCU or the X-Verse.
Which is why Trank felt the need to try something drastically different. There’s no sign that Edwards is going for anything like that here. He can’t, not with the weight of 40 years of franchise history weighing down on him, and a need to make the story fit the facts of the original trilogy. There’s also this suggestion that Edwards is a gamble, and has a history of being difficult to work with. Really?
Trank had created one indie movie, which had met with success, and then was handed the keys to a Marvel movie. He couldn’t hack it, and the results are obvious. Edwards also produced a successful indie movie, but then went on to prove himself with Godzilla, which was a crucial and commercial hit. He’s worked with big studios before, and won success. As much as certain people might be willing this to be another case of a Prima Donna director throwing his toys out of the pram, it really isn’t going to be.
1. The evidence so far
Sticking with the FF comparison, it was obvious from even an early stage that that film was an oddity. The trailer was thick and dark and filled with shocking body-altering images of characters that were meant to be cuddly family favourites. By comparison, the ‘Rogue One’ trailer broke the Internet. This is the movie that anybody who’s ever played ‘Battlefront’ has been waiting for, as rebel commandos desperately hurl themselves at approaching AT-ATs and above them; the Death Star slowly comes together.
This is a very different beast, just look at the players involved. Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelssohn. This isn’t a young inexperienced cast that can be bullied by a poor director at all. This is a wish-list of Hollywood’s finest.
And whilst I appreciate that doesn’t guarantee success, just look at all the other media we’ve seen.
For starters, the story of the Death Star plans being stolen is hotly anticipated. Stemming from one throwaway comment about Bothans, this is something that fans have been baying for for decades.
Admittedly, the trailer has shown us something we havn’t seen before, with Stormtroopers being bested by stick-wielding martial arts masters, and it’s clear that the lack of a serviceable Jedi might harm the project, but the trailer alone has proven massively gratifying for fans, providing boundless theories that link in with the parentage of the new characters showcased in ‘The Force Awakens’.
In addition to the trailer we’ve had set photos, plans from toy fairs which tease a possible role for Boba Fett, and the leaking online of the movie’s Visual Companion, which demonstrates the involvement of Darth Vader, and the birth of such franchise classics as the TIE Fighter. At no stage, prior to this week’s article, has there been any sense that anything at all is wrong with this project
So what then, do we have? Half a story, leaked by an anonymous source, and seized upon by a number of click-hungry sites. Let’s get real about this. After ‘The Phantom Menace’, Disney won’t allow any Star Wars project to be a failure. It’s highly likely that the reshoots are designed to incorporate a cameo from Alden Ehrenreich, who’s only recently been cast as the young Han Solo, and which would set up his standalone film.
The distance between audience and critical reaction has never been wider, with both BVS and X-Men Apocalypse being received well, despite critical maulings, so file these stories under ‘U’ for ‘Uninteresting’ and wait for the finished article. Oh, and a little bird just told me that Chewie is Rey’s father. Remember, you heard it here first…