Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing down when the evil Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a vengeful Jyn joins forces with a spy and other resistance fighters to steal the space station’s plans for the Rebel Alliance.
Always one who is a little late to any party, I just saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story last night. I liked it – yes, but between all of my friends who rave about it and reviews I’ve read from the critics, I wondered: Aren’t I supposed to like this a little bit more?
Rogue One has everything going for it – technically. Great actors, great action, great effects and it already has the juggernaut franchise of Star Wars to fall back on. So, let’s start with what I liked.
Rogue One was referenced in the very first Star Wars movie – Episode IV: A New Hope. This is the story about how the Rebel Alliance obtained the plans of the Death Star along with the vulnerability that ultimately led to its destruction. I love prequels and origin stories and this is essentially both. This movie shows how the Death Star came to be, and why, and serves as a prequel to Episode IV: A New Hope.
The action is there and the special effects did not disappoint, but at the same time Rogue One didn’t do anything new – we’ve seen it all before in the Star Wars universe – no boundaries were pushed.
Moving on to the characters (because really, it’s all about the characters) – Rogue One introduces several stand-out characters audiences haven’t heard of before, and casting was spot on for each of them. Felicity Jones leads the pack as Jyn Erso, a young woman who at the beginning of the film is being held captive for crimes against the Empire. We quickly learn that her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), is the scientist behind the Death Star. Other character standouts include: Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) the Rebel officer charged with making sure the Death Star threat is eliminated; Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) a blind warrior reminiscent of a monk, he believes in the Force and is apparently protected by it; Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) Imwe’s best friend and mercenary; and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) imperial pilot who defected to the Rebellion under Galen Erso’s influence. Everyone really brought their roles to life and inhabited these fun and interesting characters. And as far as chemistry – wow, was it there! I think this is quite the accomplishment since one of the drawbacks is the poor and heavy exposition the characters were frequently handed.
Moving on to the things that I was less crazy about…
First, this film is just too much. If I had to describe it in one phase or just a few words “too much” or “too many” is what I would go with. This film was all over the place. It had too much going on. Too many characters. Too many places and things to keep up with. It felt like a messy abstract portrait at times and I swear it was like the producers thought if they had all of the right ingredients and threw them together it would just work. But that’s not how anything works. It’s not just about having all of the right things, but what you do with them and how you utilize them to make the final product. This is where this movie suffered.
Next, is the writing, which felt a little heavy at times (and really that is me being generous). The dialogue was pretty awful and felt so forced, I actually cringed at times.
Another thing that bothered me is that this movie relied on the popularity of the Star Wars films that came before it. I don’t need the backstory – I don’t think anyone wants to have everything explained to them, but this movie did not act like a standalone. If this movie wasn’t set in the Star Wars universe, it’s rating would be much lower. As a spinoff to the canonized Star Wars film, this one should stand on its own merit. And it just doesn’t.
The last thing is that “I don’t know what to call it, how to identify or describe it” thing that I can only refer to as magic. All of the Star Wars films have had a certain “it” quality, even the less popular and heavily criticized films. It’s what makes it work – that special intangible quality that just takes the film to another level – it’s the magic. Rogue One is a good film, but it isn’t magical and that’s what I missed the most. Where is the magic?
Still let it be said that a good film is better than a poor one, and for any fan of the Star Wars series – this is a “must see”! So, go see it! 😉
I don’t do spoilers so I didn’t say anything and what I am about to say doesn’t give anything away, but it’s as much as I can discuss without spoiling anything. The end is everything. When I realized what was going to happen I was like – “Yes, that is what they could do to save this film” and it’s exactly what they did. So even though I listed a lot of things wrong with Rogue One, just know that when you walk out you’ll be thinking, “Wow.” Redemption…