Movie Review: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story
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**WARNING** Depending on how many details you want on Rogue One there may be minor spoilers in this review. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the newest addition to the legacy of Star Wars movies in the nearly 40 years of the franchise. It is also the first film to not feature any of the main characters, although there are a few notable cameos throughout the film. Rogue One tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicty Jones), as she and a ragtag crew of rebels band together to steal plans for the Death Star and deliver them to Mon Mothma, which of course sets us up for A New Hope. The story begins with Galen Erso, Jyn’s father (Mads Mikkelsen) and his involvement with the Death Star, what he knew about it, and what he was willing to do to keep his family safe. His actions will have repercussions throughout the galaxy and the original movie trilogy.
“Many Bothans died…”
While many of us have known for a while what the story was going to be about, it was good to see Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) put together a competent movie giving us a look at how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans for the first Death Star. Nevertheless, this was still a good movie for those wishing to understand how it relates to the original trilogy, and more specifically A New Hope.
As far as the direction of the film, the pace starts off a bit slow and unsteady as it introduces the characters, but by the 2nd act, it really does take off. While there seems to be a lot of characters introduced for this movie, what audiences will see is that everyone serves a purpose. I enjoyed the chemistry that Diego Luna’s Cassian had with Jyn, as he comes off as bit of an extremist to the Rebel cause. Audiences will also see Cassian struggle between duty & friendship, with dramatic results. The show stealer was K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. “K2”, as he is called, is a reprogrammed Imperial droid with a serious attitude problem, and his parts in the film were hilarious. Tudyk’s performance added just the right touches of levity in this otherwise dark story. Donnie Yen also impressed as Chirrut Îmwe. For those that are curious about his fight sequences, you will not be disappointed. It’s stunning how Yen has hardly been seen in any major American films since Blade 2. Some may be put off by the ‘blind Asian monk’ trope (and I am sure that a few may even call it stereotypical), but his character plays a necessary role. In fact it’s almost safe to say that all of the characters – no matter how small their roles – had key parts to this film. Considering how under-developed some of them were, it was good to see their actions make a difference. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the antagonist of the movie, and although he is not a fearsome villain, his single sighted ambition (as with any Imperial officer) is what leads him to having problems beyond his control.
There are a lot of cameos in this movie, as Rogue One sets up viewers for A New Hope. However, I am sure the question on a lot of minds is about the one and only Darth Vader. Thankfully, his presence doesn’t overshadow the movie, as his screen time is minimal but impactful. As far as the others, some viewers will be surprised at who surfaces and what roles they play as well. Just be sure to keep your eyes open throughout the entire movie.
Action and things that go boom
As I mentioned earlier, the movie starts off a bit slow. Once it picks up, however, the action is intense. It’s enough of a rollercoaster ride that the sequences don’t overstay their welcome by becoming a Michael Bay-like boom-fest. Once viewers reach the final 3rd of the movie, the space and land battles are done on an epic scale that will definitely be memorable for a Star Wars film. What is refreshing, is some of the different types of ships that viewers will see in the climactic battle. This also means that Star Wars fans will have a whole new reference book coming soon. Fans will definitely not be lacking for cohesive action in this movie.
Rogue One is also the first movie in the series to not feature John Williams. While some audiophiles may be sad over that fact, Michael Giachinno (from Star Trek and Dr. Strange fame) has put together a good body of work, adding tone and depth to this movie with his music. Giachinno did not attempt to re-hash a lot of Williams’ works, or give heavy handed deliveries during scenes which required cues. There is just enough of his work with cues from earlier films to still make this a comfortable Star Wars movie for fans who loved Williams’ music.
Overall, this was a very good standalone movie, whose action was in many ways more entertaining than The Force Awakens. In fact, this movie will remind some of The Magnificent Seven or any movie where the odds are stacked against a small fighting force. That being said, depending on where you stand as a Star Wars fan, you may be somewhat let down in that this movie really only serves as a set up for A New Hope. However, for the 2+hours, viewers will be entertained by what is presented. Younger generations will appreciate the new characters, and of course some of the blatant Disney marketing (keep an eye out for a plush doll), but if you are not entertained by this movie, the Dark side has clouded your eyes.
4 Stolen Plans out of 5
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