Man was I excited to write this review because for those who don’t know me, I am a huge nerd(see title of website). But the only thing more important to know about me than myself being a Star Wars fan,is that I am a bigger movie fan. When watching one of your favourite film franchises on-screen it’s hard to keep subjectivity, so when re-watching this film and writing my notes for the review I asked myself one question, why did I fall in love with Star Wars? Was it because that it’s the only film franchise in cinema history to say that incest is okay(See: Empire Strikes Back)? Definitely not. Is it because of the whiny protagonist who really wants to go pick up tashi station to pick up power converter?Hmm don’t think so. All kidding aside,millions around the world (including myself)fell in love with the Lore of Star Wars because of the larger than life characters we found in Luke, Leia, Darth Vader, Yoda, Han, Chewbacca and countless others going on these out-of-world adventures our dreams couldn’t think of even on our best days, coupled with the classic music that evokes emotion and the sky-high tension built over the films via amazing scripts.Re-watching Rogue One from an analytical film fan’s perspective rather than a fan’s perspective highlighted some strengths that went unnoticed and some flaws that were hiding under my fan goggles.
In Rogue One,Gareth Edwards and the writers do an excellent job in filling plot-holes and succeeds in adding depth and weight to the original trilogy, in particular to the original film; Star Wars. An issue I’ve commonly had with the Rebellion in the Star Wars anthology films, excluding our main antagonist ( Luke ) in the original trilogy is that the Rebellions were always portrayed as clean cut and never felt the temptation of committing a sin for a greater good. In Rogue One we see a different side of the Rebellion, showing a distorted moral compass and showed a darker side to their methods. Having the Rebellion willing to commit sins in order to protect the galaxy and stop the Empire from building the Death Star helped magnify the significance of the Death Star. While we’re on the topic of the Death Star, we see it in its full glory and is the main star of the film. The Death Star always felt underutilized in the original trilogy and took a backseat to highlight the intricacies of the life of the Jedi so it’s refreshing to see Gareth Edwards embrace the iconic death killing machine.The film score of Rogue One is one of the more impressive bodies of work in comparison to the discography of the Star Wars films, as it has the daunting task of balancing the new era of Star Wars films alongside holding the nostalgic and awe-inspiring work of John Williams in the classic trilogy.Michael Giacchino was able to find the perfect balance of relying on previous themes done by John Williams in the original trilogy and integrating fresh,new blood and still keep the classic sound infamous to movie lovers around the globe.
As the characters in Rogue One are generally underwhelming(we’ll talk about that later) K-2SO,the sass filled droid that is Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) first hand man absolutely steals the show. With his wisecracking jokes and well-timed quips, K-2SO provides the necessary comedic relief in spurts when needed and never feels out of place. The banter that K-2SO engages with the rest of the troops apart of “Rogue One” adds another dimension the team desperately needed rather than being a flat and lifeless rag-tag group of misfits,we get hints at the individuals they once were.
The action scenes in Rogue One are as gritty and violent we will ever get to a war movie in a Star Wars film. The chaos of the film is beautifully captured by Gareth Edwards with non-stop blasters going off in the background, vicious hand to hand combat sequences and ear piercing explosions; keeping the audience(me) on their(also mine) toes at all times. With breathtaking cinematography and gorgeous set design, Rogue One provides a visceral experience with their action sequences that enhances your viewing experience. From the gorgeous space battles between X-wings and TIE fighters (nerd alert) and the pure and raw display of power on display with the Death Star, Rogue One excels in the action sequences that made Star Wars the pop culture phenomenon and premiere franchise in Hollywood for the past 30 years.
The film has trouble sticking to one story line as it follows multiple agents around from the Rebellion and the Empire, bouncing from one place to another. Although this shows the true depth of the star wars universe;from underworld dystopian-esque worlds to ancient cities with deep roots with the Jedi lore,it severely impacts the pacing and fluidity of the film. A subplot of the film follows around the relationship and power struggle between Director Krennic(Ben Mendelsohn) and Grand Moff- Tarkin,an integral part of the original trilogy but Peter Cushing(portrayed Grand Moff-Tarkin) has since past. To get around this, the director and Lucasfilm decided on the character of Grand Moff-Tarkin getting CGI’d into the film,and it feels just about unnatural and awkward as you expect it to be.Although the CGI is not poorly executed, he looks much more waxy and animated than the rest of the cast. Although he is not on screen for very long, when he’s in frame with other live characters it weighs the scene down with an anchor, rather than feeling like a welcomed addition.
Due to the nature of the plot and certain story lines the filmmakers choose to explore, the main protagonist group of Rogue One feel severely under-developed with little to no character background information is given to any of the main characters, outside of a few scenes for Jyn Erso(Felicity Jones) and (Cassian Andor).Jyn Erso, our main protagonist as a character is somewhat compelling, has her arc as a character completely skipped due to the time jump within the first fifteen minutes of the film.Rather than getting a fleshed out protagonist that we can root for, we miss all the training and her entire arc she goes on as she transforms from a scared,defenseless child to a rogue, freedom fighter with a criminal past. We also miss the relationship built between her and Saw Guerrera (Forest Whittaker), the rebellious extremist that is an independent agent with his own motives, separate from the Rebellion and the Empire. With the very few scenes they share together in latter parts of the film feel like filler as they hold little to no weight to them. Due to the lack of character development given to the characters, the scenes directed in the film to be the emotional heartbeats of the film flat line (see what I did there) miserably. From the moment Chirrut Imwe(Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus(Jiang Wen) are on screen together, it is implied and felt they have a rich backstory,but unfortunately we rarely get to see or hear any of their history and instead we get the infamous hentai octopus scene with Bol Gullet and Bodhi(Riz Ahmed),the pilot (the only character development we get for this character).
Overall Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gave us a mixed product,the highs in the film are some of the best in the franchise but the low moments in the film are crucial in regards to the magic Star Wars brings to the film community. Without any real memorable moments in the film from the new cast of characters, Rogue One:A Star Wars Story lacks the special ingredient the anthology films to make them so memorable,for better or for worse**cough prequels cough**).