Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the very first live-action standalone Star Wars film not connected to the Saga instalments. It tells the story mentioned in the opening crawl of A New Hope, a merry band of Rebels come together “to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.” It is directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla).
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
I think it is safe to say that this is probably one of the best Star Wars films ever made and for me, maybe time will change my opinion but for now, is my favourite Star Wars film to date. I never thought I would become as emotional as I was watching it but as the film progressed to that spectacularly fantastic final act, I noticed my eyes welling up and that emotional feeling in the pit of my stomach…
I have been reading the various thoughts of critics, reviewers and colleagues alike and a gripe many seem to have is feeling the characters could have been a bit more fleshed out and/or they didn’t feel as much of a connection with them than they may have wanted. Interestingly enough, this is where that subjectivity in film comes in because I felt an enormous connection with each and every single character. In a smaller sense, it was reminiscent of the characters in my favourite film of 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road; I didn’t have a vast understanding of certain characters backgrounds but I simply didn’t need it. Felicity Jones portrays Jyn Erso and I loved watching her struggle internally with who/what to believe when it came to the issue of her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen). Jones as a whole gave a great performance, albeit there were a few times where it felt like she had a stone-cold look on her face for more than it should’ve been. MILD SPOILER There is one particular scene involving the term “Papa” that absolutely wrecked me… Jones nailed that scene END SPOILER.
Diego Luna‘s Captain Cassian was not a perfectly wonderful and caring individual, he did what the Alliance asked of him because that was his entire identity. He and Jones worked beautifully off each other and it was enjoyable to watch their relationship progress and handle the various issues that arise; there is a quick sequence toward the beginning of the film involving Cassian that I adored. It happened in a split second but I appreciated the decision to have that trait in him. Ben Mendelsohn as Dir. Orson Krennic was a great antagonist and I enjoyed seeing his aspirations cloud his professional judgement on occasion. Every other supporting character portrays their respective roles wonderfully: Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wang, Forest Whitaker with his weird respiratory disease and all, and one of my personal favourites, Donnie Yen. Yen portrayed the blind force-sensitive man flawlessly and had a few one-liners that had me genuinely crack up.
“… Are you kidding me? I’m blind!”
The humour is utilized spectacularly in Rogue One and I am SO HAPPY about that… Alan Tudyk‘s K-2SO contributed to his fair share of that and it never once felt forced or annoying unlike other blockbuster hits Disney have their hands in (cough AGE OF ULTRON COUGH). I cannot wait for the blu-ray release so someone in YouTube land can splice together all of his scenes because he is wonderful in Rogue One.
Other issues I read were regarding pacing issues in which some felt the beginning act was rather slow. Personally, I was hooked in from the first moment to the very final second… The final second. I’m telling you, the final act of Rogue One that contains the Battle of Jedha and attempt to steal the plans is some other kinds of wonderful (I will fangirl about the space battles in the “Other Aspects” portion of this review). There was one particularly small issue I had with the final battle regarding a ship utilizing itself that made me shake my head a bit. I was like, okay… There is no way that would ever work, regardless of which galaxy far, far away we’re in. Other than that, I loved every single aspect to this movie.
The Return Of Vader
It isn’t about how much screen time you have, it’s about how you use it.
Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones!) appeared in only a handful of scenes however his presence was felt immensely throughout this film. This is Prime Vader. Would it have been nice to have seen more of him? Honestly… I think they utilized him just enough. Had he been on screen for longer, I feel like the emotional punch of seeing him would have eventually deteriorated.
There is a thread from r/Gaming entitled “This is what happens when Vader finds you in Battlefront” that makes me get knots in stomach every time I watch it. It depicts you relentlessly trying and failing immensely to shoot at Vader as he trudges toward you. It’s fucking terrifying and he is fucking terrifying. He makes a dad joke and that was fucking terrifying, although I let out a chuckle.
How Were The Other Aspects To ‘Rogue One’?
Rogue One FINALLY put the “War” in “Star War.”
The special effects in this film are virtually flawless. There was a full CG character that I didn’t even realize was CG until my brother mentioned it to me… Although that probably has to do with my incredibly shit vision. Edwards’ ability to depict war is as gritty and real as a PG-13 Star Wars film can get. There are people on both respective sides being shot at and one sequence involving the AT-ATs that demonstrate the sheer magnitude of these things left my jaw agape.
The depiction of zooming into battle at lightspeed was just… Marvelous. Everything about the battles on the ground and in the cold, vast darkness of space is just so brilliantly executed I can’t express it enough. As mentioned, since I had such an emotional connection with these characters, the battles they faced were only enhanced during my watch because of the feelings I had for them. I will be seeing the film again on Tuesday (it is currently Saturday night) so I will give an update as to whether I still feel the same way after the hype died down. For the casual fan, a few easter eggs and mentions will fly by their head however it won’t detract from the overall enjoyment of it.
If you’re even a little bit intrigued by the Star Wars universe and/or strive to witness an instalment that gears toward the “war” mentioned in the title, check out Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
These Are The Reviews You’re Looking For…
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story receives 4.5/5 Matt Damon heads.