Did you click here by accident? Now’s your chance to get out of here before I let loose on the latest in the Star Wars universe. I plan on talking about Rogue One, but anything goes that’s cannon from the series… Still here? Last warning before we begin
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan. In fact, I think I may have seen the prequels before the original series. Don’t crucify me or write me off just yet. I hang with some pretty knowledgeable Star Wars geeks so I got spun up on things back in the day. One of the things I recall from my first viewing of the originals was just how adventurous and fun they were. The Force Awakens captured a lot of that magic. However, they captured it and milked it a bit too much, suffering from a lack of originality. I also took issue with the bad guys in the film. The emo-son, CGI weird-looking dude and a cool looking chrome trooper with nothing to do left a bit to be desired. I came into the theater, hoping to see Star Wars fully recapture the magic of the series with Rogue One. It’s a bit unfair to put that much weight on each new entry in the saga. Despite that weight, Rogue One stands pretty damn tall in my book.
So if you’re here, you already know the story because you’ve seen the film (hopefully). Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso. We open up with a young Jyn witnessing her father, Galen Erso, played by the brilliant Mads Mikkelsen, being abducted by the Empire to build the iconic death star. The story jumps from this point to an adult Jyn imprisoned for a litany of text-book nonviolent crimes most movie anti-hero’s commit. Thankfully, instead of drawing her into a mini-plot to prove how badass she is, they keep the story ticking with natural character progression from the movie’s rising conflicts.
When she meets the other rebels, Jones gives a compelling performance unique to each scene driving home the earnest tone in the film. Forrest Whitaker’s take on a rebel extremist was frighteningly believable. The array of rebel fighters we get all contribute in a meaningful way. Diego Luna’s the main focus of the rebels, but we get memorable portrayals by Chirrut (Donnie Yen), K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk), Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook) and Baz Malbus (Wen Jiang) as well. Given the short amount of time we had to watch their interactions, I truly feel alright with what we got. By the time Ben Mendelsohn’s, Krennic confronted Jyn for the last time, I was completely sold by the struggle at hand.
Rogue One was an amazing experience for me for multiple reasons. 2016 saw a plethora of disappointing TV and film for me. The hype machine and crazed expectations really ruined a lot of my experiences at the theater. This is the only thing I’ve watched that probably met those expectations. It’s not without faults. There is reason to criticize character development and disjointed plot points. As great as this film is, much of its greatness is because of films that came before and are still to come. Darth Vader would’ve not made an appearance at all and the film could’ve still been served by its plot. However, his moments were exciting and finally showed off how powerful and menacing he could be with modern special effects. That corridor scene in one of the final moments of the film is something I don’t know they’ll top in future Star Wars films.
Gareth Edwards and the screenwriters do a great job handling so many expectations. I think I’m probably under the glow of having seen it recently. That said, there’s no way this film is a 10 after telling you all of this. There were rumors of re-shoots and script changes that scared some fans, reasonably so. I personally think the film would’ve been a 10 if Disney weren’t afraid of losing toy sales. There are moments that feel like they want to go dark but pull back in the last moments. The various death scenes of the entire cast at the end felt a bit stilted at points. It’s like they had to be edited back in, changed as if executives couldn’t decide on who or how they’d die. Whatever the case, they get points for at least giving all of them some measure of dignity despite the original plan. There were some missing elements without a strong Jedi presence in the film. No major hang ups though honestly. At the end of it all, I have to go with a solid 9/10 for Rogue One.