Who doesn’t love a Star Wars movie right? Rogue One is the movie that is supposed to bring us answers to many of the questions left in the gap between Episodes 3 and 4. How did Leia come to acquire the Death Star plans in the first place? Why would the Empire place such a crucial fault in the Death Star that had the potential to destroy the entire spacecraft? These all get answered in this movie. However, I think it’s best that everyone find out by themselves how exactly they get answered. For that reason, I will do my best to make this review a spoiler-free one.
Cinematically speaking, there are a lot of things wrong with this movie. This could be a by-product of all of the reshooting that was done in the latter stages of production or it could be editing flaws; or both. It just came across as a little bit sloppy from time to time. I want to start by mentioning the organization of the movie, particularly in the beginning scenes. The movie jumps from location to location various times in the early parts of the film and it felt a bit disorganized and hard to follow. The first scene of the movie involves something from Jyn’s childhood and then it jumps about 15 years to her in a jail cell, for which you never are really explained why except that she is just in general, a criminal. Then it immediately just starts jumping from place to place and it really doesn’t flow smoothly for a while.
The next thing worth noting is how sadly predictable this movie is. In talking with various people about Rogue One prior to it’s release, I made about 5 predictions of things that would likely happen in the movie. I won’t go into them to avoid spoiling anything but I will say that all but one of them happened exactly the way I expected. I was really hoping that director Gareth Edwards would throw something in there genuinely surprised me, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.
I am sure most of you have heard by now that Grand Moff Tarkin makes an appearance in the movie in pretty much full CGI. My first thought when I saw him was “Wow, that’s cool that they are honoring Peter Cushing by animating him into this movie!”. It was cool, but it was obviously CGI. I don’t really think that this would have been much of a problem, had he only been in that one scene. Unfortunately for the movie’s sake, he was in a lot more scenes and the fact that he was so obviously a Polar Express version of Grand Moff Tarkin really took away from each scene that he was in. Is it really necessary that he be in it that much? No, it’s not.
Another major flaw that I am going to bring up is the convenient/ cliche nature of the film. There were simply too many crucial moments in the film where the solution to a problem was waaay too easy or straightforward. A good example of that came near the end of the film. Jyn is about to transmit the Death Star plans to the rebel fleet. Instead of there being a big control panel with lots of buttons and switches to figure out how to transmit it, there is literally a slot to put the data file, and a big lever. Really? There were quite a few other scenes that just didn’t make sense at all and were honestly just overkill. Such as the scene where Bodhi the pilot (Riz Ahmed) goes to see Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and gets thrown into this room with some tentacled creature that can supposedly draw the truth out of anyone. Then ensues a weird and thankfully short moment where the creature crawls up on Bodhi and starts to wrap its tentacles around his head. A side effect of this creature’s “services” is that the person in question tends to lose his mind after. Well it seemed pretty convenient to me that Bodhi regained his sanity in a matter of moments after he is found by General Cassian and company. Since that is the case, WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE WEIRD TENTACLE SCENE? Sorry to raise my voice but I just don’t get that one.
The only thing I wanted for Christmas this year was for this movie to have a lot of sick Vader scenes. That it did not. He has one really cool scene where he kicks some butt but I think that he was still used a bit more sparingly then necessary. I mean, they gave a grumpy old CGI dude like 30 min of screen time and could only afford to give Darth Vader like 10? I wanted to see him show up to a battle that the rebels are winning and turn the tides simply by being there. This is the prime of Darth Vader’s terror and his role in the film Rogue One was simply underwhelming.
Even though there are many things wrong with the film, in terms of enjoyment factor, I’d give Rogue One two thumbs up. It was really quite an enjoyable film to watch. It had lots of action, new and old characters, new and old spacecrafts, pretty great special effects, and a wide range of emotions. The characters were all likeable and fun, but I never really fell in love with any of them. Jyn is great and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is cool in all, but I never really felt a connection to any of them. That fact is probably more of a bad thing than good, but believe it or not, it also does help the ending work better and doesn’t take away from the rest of the film too much. Don’t get me wrong, Jyn is a very attractive, courageous,and likable heroine who isn’t afraid to do some butt kickin’ herself. However, Rey is still bae.
The point of this movie was to fill the space between when episode 3 ends and episode 4 begins; and it did that absolutely beautifully. Rogue One literally ends at the exact scene that A New Hope starts. I was very much satisfied with all of the answers that it gave to many of the questions that we had about that time span.
There was an awesome scene in this film where Jyn’s emotional walls are really brought to ground as she watches a holographic message from he father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). It is a very emotional scene that I found to be quite touching and well acted from both Jones and Mikkelsen. That was probably my favorite moment from the entire film, not only because Galen Erso reveals a lot of crucial information in that message, but also just because you see how his loving words effect Jyn and light a fire under her that motivates her for the rest of the movie.
The ending of this film was simply fantastic to say the least. The way it tied everything together was something that I thought may be difficult, but they managed to get it done.
Rogue One fills the void of unanswered questions left by the iconic first episode ever released by George Lucas in 1977. Though my section of critiques is much longer than my praises for the movie, most of that is because I found it much harder to praise things without giving away crucial elements of the film. The fact is, though cinematically rough around the edges, this movie works, and it is worth a watch for anyone who cares even slightly about staying up-to-date with the Star Wars universe.