It’s been about 40 days since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released and people will not stop talking about it. Even with Golden Globes giving major awards to Moonlight, La La Land, and Manchester by the Sea, the film conversations that I’ve had thus far have all eventually come back to the “dark” Star Wars spin-off. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as of this weekend, Rogue One has entered the esteemed Billion Dollar Club for movies that have surpassed $1 billion at the global box office. A round of polite golf claps, everyone!
This is one of those milestones that, though undeniably a major win for those who funded, created, and released the movie, says exactly nothing about the quality of the film. The conversations that have been going on seem to focus on how daring the film is to have such a dark tone overall and such a dark ending, as if the word “dark” was now synonymous with “great.” Though I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the film up to a point, the ending felt rote, calling back to any number of war movies and science fiction films that came before it. Where sacrifice is often implicit in war movies, Rogue One went out of its way to proverbially highlight, underline, circle, and draw arrows pointing towards the solemn sacrifice of its characters. After seeing the movie twice, it still feels like overkill.
Regardless, Rogue One is certainly a step in the right direction, as so many others have said, and it’s not like Rogue One‘s success is the only thing Disney has to celebrate. This weekend also marked a financial coup for their animated hit Moana, which surpassed $500 million at the global box office. In any other year, this would activate my cynicism and have me on a “Disney owns everything” tirade but this was an especially heartening year for the House of Mouse. Not only did Rogue One suggest new terrain for Star Wars while Moana offered a new focus on female perspectives and creativity, but David Lowery’s remake of Pete’s Dragon implied something much more important: Disney is still capable of making great movies when they feel like giving talented filmmakers some room to breathe creatively.