Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

A Forceful Rebellion

Acting as the first Star Wars movie outside the main Skywalker canon; Rogue One is an ambitious-yet risky-endeavor. Since Disney bought the rights to Star Wars years ago the thought of having a story dedicated toward the stealing of the Death Star plans was something any fan would crave. With Rogue One it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

From the beginning Rogue One isn’t afraid to disengage itself from the main canon we’re all familiar with. For starters, there’s no crawl to set-up what events may unfold. Given that most of the main characters are unknown to the casual moviegoers, it felt as if this was a minor mistake. It would have been a little more cohesive knowing some back-story to the characters we get acquainted with.

The main plot of Rogue One is simple enough: A rogue team lead by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) goes against orders to steal the plans that her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) helped create. The heart of the film lies with Jyn and her team consisting of Captain Kassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel that walks a line between being sketchy and headstrong; Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), a blind staff wielder belonging to the Guardian of Whills and a freelance assassin respectively. Thats not all though as there are two other characters that make up this unique team. Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), defected Imperial pilot and robot respectively. Out of all the characters Jyn, Chirrut, and K-2SO were standouts for their own reasons.

Since there are so many characters to this story the film jumps around from planet to planet getting the audience acquainted with this fresh batch of protagonists. Even Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) gets dropped in so fast its hard to keep up at times. This really relies on the audience having some knowledge of the existing extended universe. One character in particular, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), first appeared on the Clone Wars t.v. show. Though his role in the movie is somewhat limited, its enough that more back-story between Saw and Jyn could have made more of an impact.

One person who I have to truly praise is director Gareth Edwards. Gareth makes use of his two-hour runtime so well that each set-piece is paced with time in mind. There wasn’t a scene that dwelled too long, and when it seemed as if it would the story would transition toward the next scene. While on the topic of scenes and structure of Rogue One, there is one formulaic flaw that is starting to show.

This is the fifth movie in the Star Wars series to include a climax involving space juxtaposed with ground combat. To its credit Rogue One may have the best space fights since Return of the Jedi thanks to its stellar editing; but it still feels iterant. I can’t say I was bored with the space combat as it is impressively shot. The cinematography in general is out of this world; there are certain shots that are just breathtaking, especially if experienced in IMAX.

As for Darth Vader; it’s no surprise that he is featured in the movie. His screen time is limited similar to that of The Joker in Suicide Squad, but unlike The Joker his presence makes sense. The few scenes that feature Vader are worth it and make sense in the context of the story. Especially when acting as a bridge from Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope. On a final note, there are certain characters that make a return with the use of special effects…I won’t say who they are, but the tech used to create these characters are mind-blowing at times, and could really become a game-changer in CGI.

Verdict

Rogue One is a pleasing addition to the Star Wars canon; fitting well in-between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It’s weaknesses can be found in its slowly growing formalism…yet its formalism in its finest form.

8.5/10

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