Passing the Buck: Rogue One
Children are funny. They are little balls of quirks who will never cease to surprise you and are infallibly predictable all at once. Fiona’s first viewing of Rogue One was no exception to this law of childhood.
She sat patiently and quietly through the movie. She laughed at K-2SO’s antics and grabbed my hand and shook with excitement when Darth Vader came on screen. Afterwards I asked Fiona what her favorite parts of the movie were. The first and obvious answer was, of course, Darth Vader. She thought, specifically, that he was “battling really awesome.” And she was not wrong.
Vader’s murder rampage sequence at the end of the movie was probably the best sequence of Darth Vader destruction we’ve ever seen in a Star Wars movie. His brooding Mustafar fortress was also one of those perfect and clever moments that made this film special.
Not satisfied with her stock response I pressed her for more Rogue One-specific material. She said, “I like K-2.” She then proceeded to recite some of her favorite K-2SO quotes. Again, I expected this response from her. Fiona is 7, and as a 7-year-old, she feels that comedy is the absolute most important thing in life. Her standards for humor aren’t high, but to her credit, she can identify the really good comedy that she encounters. She leaned over to Caleb when K-2 first spoke and said, “Dad, that’s King Candy from Wreck it Ralph!" Alan Tudyk’s performance in Rogue One certainly warrants Fiona’s admiration. His timing is perfect with every line. His delivery is spot-on, riding the line between detached droid and emotionally emphatic, pulling it in the right direction at the right times. K-2SO will happily join the pantheon of beloved droids from Star Wars far better than the slap-stick droids from the prequel trilogies.
I asked her if she liked Jyn, and she said "yes." Fiona says, “I like her a lot because she’s grumpy and she gets in trouble a lot, like me.” It’s a positive step in the right direction. Fiona has never before even acquiesced to liking a female character in a film. Last year, to my horror, she crumpled up a Rey valentine she got in class and cried saying she “hated” Rey and that the boy in her class who gave it to her knew she liked Kylo Ren. It was a dark day. So, while Jyn’s character didn’t inspire the kind of enthusiasm in her I had hoped, Jyn is the kind of women we need to see more of in cinema. (If you are worried that my daughter suffers from internal misogyny, I'll say she also took to Moana, “because she’s nice and fights pirates.”)
You may be wondering what Fiona thought of the movie overall. To that end, she says, “B-O-R-E-ing. I don’t like talking stuff. I really like battle scenes.” She more succinctly described it later. “It’s like that Godzilla movie (2014) that has one of my favorite Godzillas in it. There’s a loooot of talking and just a little bit of Godzilla. This one had a loooooot of talking and just a little bit of Darth Vader.” And as a 7-year-old, that just doesn’t cut it to make it to the top of her movie list.
Someday, Fiona will appreciate that Caleb and I were adamant about taking her to see Star Wars movies when they were in theaters, and that’s what matters. She enjoyed the movie as much as a 7-year-old can enjoy a very heavy, wordy, emotionally driven Star Wars film. Is it a triumph in Star Wars storytelling? Absolutely. Is it something your young child will be willing to sit through? The chances are 50/50. If you’re on the fence, you might want to grab a babysitter when you go to the theater, and plan a viewing with the littles when the film is released on Blu-ray/DVD.
Until next time, may the Force be with you.