Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson recently took to Google+ to point out five ways that Rogue One fails to meet the pulp standards of the original Star Wars saga.

Rogue One dad
#PulpFail number one: So the empire is here to kidnap dude's family and force him to create a doomsday weapon. This whole scene is set up merely to show that (a) little girl is strong female stoic even at a young age, (b) her parents LOVE her and give her mementos to show how they feel, and (c) that daddy is a passive little bitch that is unwilling and unable sell his life dearly. Oh, that last one stings. This sort of scene has been done in countless Westerns. Except... lemme tell you how it goes. Dad knows he's overmatched. He looks his foe in the eye. He knows he's going to die. But he reaches for his gun anyway and is blown away. The whole family dies... but somehow the kid survives. He then dedicates his entire life to learning how to kick ass and achieve vengeance. Shitty post-modern loser dad here is just pleading for mercy while is wife draws the gun and attempts to do something against all odds. She risks her life and (the image is not on google)... he runs to her side when she gets shot and looks all the world like some Scarlet O'Hara momentarily overcome with the sheer drama of it all. Except Scarlet O'Hara could actually shoot a Yankee deserter in cold blood. This opening scene is bullshit. I would rather convert to old school Viking religion with its concept of a warriors death and Ragnarok and everthing else than subscribe to anything remotely like the value system of the non-culture that produced this piece of garbage. Seriously, this opening scene is just one gigantic kick in the balls. Screw these people.

Rogue One kills
#PulpFail number two: Introducing a protagonist by having him betray someone that trusts him in order to save his own skin. He shoots a disabled person in the back after telling him everything will be okay. This is the sort of story beat you'd typically reserve in order to fully establish that a bad guy completely deserves the ass whoopin' that's coming to him. Absolutely moronic. These people are incapable of conveying the sort of pulp ethos that was fundamental to Star Wars.

Rogue One this guy
#PulpFail number three: It's crazy. They have scenes. They look like Star Wars. The music tells me that something important is happening. But it feels like this movie has no idea how to get started. "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper" isn't edgy enough. No, we have to show fish lips mortally wound a few rebels that are rescuing her. Meanwhile... the rebels have to be shown as being mean and nasty. And OH MY GOSH! Who can complain when they have recreated the control room set from the battle of Yavin? And dropped in a throwaway character from Return of the Jedi?!
But this underweight, rat faced fellow that talks like what... Cheech and Chong or something? What the hell?! It's like they had focus groups help them find the most un-Star Warsy thing conceivable. Is there supposed to be romantic tension between him and fish lips? I can't tell. The opening scene with them packing to go to Dangerville is set to maximum cringe. He asks he to pretty please let him have the blaster she's not supposed to have. That's right, spymaster extraordinaire let that get right past him.
Dude is going on a critical mission and he has to depend on someone that is established as wanting to fight the rebellion tooth and nail every step of the way. Seems like that would be a good time to lay down the law. For dude to have any credibility, he would be shown setting the tone, schooling her on what his expectations are. If she's too awesome for that, then he's (a) not the monster he's been established as being and (b) unable to hold his own in any sort of repartee with his romantic foil. It's like the conflicting requirements cancel each other out, leaving an inherently schizophrenic mess of a film that has no idea what it actually wants to be.

Rogue One Whitaker
#PulpFail number four: Okay, so the rebellion comes in two flavors: scuzzy and extra scuzzy. Mummified Peter Cushing is freaking weird. Stormtroopers are here to play Keystone Kops. And there are more shout outs to classic movies than there is plot. Finally something happens.
FIsh lips, who is established as having extreme daddy issues because her father didn't have the sense to, you know, defend his family. But she was also ABANDONED by the guy that is being set up as the meanest, nastiest, cruelest most Machievellian scumbag in the galaxy.
Oh, but this guy that is so evil and nasty...? He's also really sentimental about this random girl.
Lemme tell you how the galaxy works at its most basic level: blood is thicker than water. And the scummiest scum bag in the galaxy would hand fish lips over to his boys for a brief bit of entertainment before indulging in this kind of bizarre sentimentality.
What the hell are they doing setting up two father figures for fishlips anyway...? Like they have time for this sort of distraction in what's supposed to be pulp style adventure. The people that made this are brain damaged.

Rogue One council
#PulpFail number five: The all new extra-diverse rebel council refuses to reach consensus on stealing the death star plans. Subtext: diversity = division. With the exception of the squid people, the non-whites mostly sit this battle out. Then for the Battle of Yavin...? Man, they are totally gone, leaving all the fighting adventure to the all-white cast of the real Star Wars movie.
The pulps are filled with nuanced treatments of colonialism and forging bonds of friendship and love across racial lines. Rogue One? It's so racist, I am literally shaking.

My comment:

At the store yesterday, a buddy and I were indulging in lavish speculation about how Disney will screw up the Han Solo movie.

Awkward-looking lady across the aisle from us looks up from the shopping list she's hunched over and asks if we're talking about the new Star Wars. Pregnant pause. We say "yes" at the same time.

Lady: *Nervous laugh* "I'll be there opening day."
*Looks back down. Pushes her cart around the corner out of sight*

There are people whose lives have no other meaning than Star Wars. They are legion. And now their last common cultural touchstone is being strip-mined of all value.

It's like some kind of memetic disease. They pay people who hate them to be insulted. Delude themselves into thinking they enjoyed the experience. Realize they've been had on the second viewing. But selective amnesia sets in by the time the next round of postmodern hazing begins.

I don't know if these inmates of pop culture purgatory can be saved. I have to try.

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"The Secret Kings is a worthy candidate for a Dragon Award."
-VFM #0352

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  1. My only problem with Jeffro's commentary is ... I always thought Peter Cushing looked like a mummy. Even when he was alive. I think I actually liked his color better as a dead CGI character.

    Otherwise.... yeah. I really only thought Rogue One was worth it for the last act. Mostly "Wait? You mean someone remembered this was A WAR MOVIE?" Granted, I wondered at what point they decided they were doing the Dirty Dozen. But frankly, had that been THE START OF THE FILM, I might have cared. Now, it's much like Episode II: "I'm going to turn my brain off for the lightsaber battle." Everything else? The characters were bland and boring. Except for not-Daredevil and Heavy Weapons Specialist, the ROBOT was the most colorful character here.

    Even not-Daredevil broke my suspension of disbelief. Seriously, Stormtrooper armor is now made of tissue paper?

    I saw this film once in the theaters, and that was more than enough for me. Never need to see it again.

    1. Like tissue paper, except, oddly when not-Daredevil needs to use a Stormtrooper as a human shield, at which point the poor bastard wearing the stuff becomes capable of tanking dozens of direct hits from military-grade blasters, and is apparently still alive when not-Daredevil unceremoniously dumps him in the street.

    2. Who has time to keep track of continuity when we've got diversity quotas to fill?

  2. Brian

    This is bit that Jesus was talking about throwing pearls to pigs isn't it?
    I'm struck at how these ignorant talentless hacks presume to know much better the deplorables tastes and likes 'cause the cultured betters(tm) have an MFA and we don't.
    Culture especially pop and folk culture (the same on my view pop is just folk culture that hasn't aged yet)is too important to be left to the intellectuals (tm) These guys confuse Brecht's the People poem with a cultural policy paper.

    Well i'm glad that technology has levelled the field again and we can happily ignore the pearl clutching histrionic fainting spells and enjoy being entertained.

    I'm sick to death with this dour attitude that there's no fun in life and there are no jokes in social justicestan.


  3. I just had a conversation with someone who's been looking into exactly how these movies get ruined. Apparently it's not the writers--who have next to zero say in what goes into the final film--but the casting directors who inject a lot of the SocJus into these projects.

    1. Brian:
      Ok I grant that but where's the pressure coming from then? Or are casting directors all Social justice zombies?
      Obviously no one works in a vacuum so I'm curious who leaning on Hollywood and how long before the Chicoms demand social realism?


  4. I can't care about a character who shoots their friend in the back. Unless it's a villain.

    That's a major writing fail right there.

    It was actually one of the points I hated most about 28 Days Later. The people who are killed without even knowing they were infected. Drove me up the wall.

  5. I think they were trying for a "Spaniard Han shot first" redemption arc with Whatsisface Spyman. He even comes back in at the last minute with a blindside shot to the menacing miniboss. I'm not saying they did it *well*, just that I can guess at what they were aping. Start him off as scum, but have him show heart to The Chosen Lady Lead, and culminate by some heroic effort at shooting an Imperial in the back.

    Even the "Star Wars does Vietnam" was hackneyed, but it did at least look like a war film. It was nice to see more fighting on the ground in a new setting instead of more Jedi flynning and starship CGI videogaming.

    The part I remember most of all is the hammerhead ship ramming maneuver to take down the magic planetary shield. For some reason that felt like something I'd see in a pre-Disney EU novel, so I liked it. That part alone wasn't worth the price of admission, but it felt like the plucky Rebellion making use of scrappy, pugnacious tech to beat the odds... even if it was sort of dumb from a physics standpoint.

    1. "Whatsisface Spyman"

      Brilliant! My next West End Star Wars PC now has a name.

    2. Star wars does vietnam was return of the jedi.

      I am not kidding or arguing. That WAS Lucas' intention and he fought with kasdan over the ewoks.

    3. I really rather hated the bit with the hammerhead ship. In the first place, I don't understand why that class of vessel has become so popular; I think they originally appeared in the first KotOR game and now you can't swing a dead Ewok without hitting one of the damn things, apparently. The second was, as mentioned above, the issue of physics, which was especially galling given that a Star Destroyer shrugs off an explosive impact from an asteroid roughly the size of its own command tower without apparent effect other than some communications disruption in ESB.

    4. @Nate

      A joke that made the rounds in the wake of RotJ's release:

      "How many Ewoks can you fit in an industrial blender?"

      "I don't know."

      "Me either, but I'd love to find out."

    5. @Brian Niemeir

      hah! Nice one.

      Now in revenge...

      Part of me hopes, if they reveal Rey to be that little girl grown up, I'll take back EVERYTHING I said about TFA and any other star wars. XD

    6. Luckily, it's doubtful you'll be eating crow anytime soon. It's rumored that Rey's true identity has been leaked, and if the leaks are correct, it's even more retarded than you could possibly imagine.

    7. *googles*

      Hmm... not seeing it just yet, though there's one video from Aug of last year. That one?

      When are we going to connect with daddy and some others and just go over Star Wars like the raging nerds we are?? lol

  6. That Rogue One movie is Satanic at its core. "Rebellions are built on hope."--main theme of the movie. Rebellion is worse than witchcraft according to the Scriptures. Hope is a theological virtue--faith, hope, love. The movie twists a theological virtue into a grave sin which is the same thing that the Devil does.

    1. I hadn't considered the movie from that angle.

      In the original Star Wars trilogy, it was the Empire that derided the Alliance to Restore the Republic as "rebels". Such groups rarely self-apply that term, preferring to call themselves revolutionaries.

    2. Daniel:
      Yes rebellion to legitimate and rightful authority is indeed a grave sin. But what happens in the case of the empire? It was brought about by usurpation of rightful authority by fake crises? Further, the order to murder the jedis was evil. So in this case rebelling is completely legitimate (St Tomas Aquinas and the Salamanca school would certainly argue that the Alliance was legitimate to fight the empire)
      Lucas' mistake was for the Alliance to call itself rebels when they should've called themselves the Restorers or the Legitimists or even republicans.
      By taking up their enemies' insult begs the question what are you rebelling against exactly? and worse calls into doubt your own legitimacy.