Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 4.34.08 PM.png    When it was announced that we’d be getting a new Star Wars film every year, I was both extremely excited for obvious reasons, but also rather frightened by the fact that the significance of Star Wars might get devalued. After having watched Rogue One yesterday, I couldn’t be more grateful about the fact that we’ll be getting a Star Wars if they manage to make them all this delightful.  There’s really no other word to describe Rogue One other than delightful. With his third film, Gareth Edwards has a Star Wars film that equally fun as it is exciting for the franchise.

        By making the first Star Wars spin-off such a success, Edwards has given future directors the ability to go anywhere in the ever-expanding universe with this franchise. Gareth Edwards has paved the way for greatness and much like what J.J. Abrams did for the main saga last year, Edwards should also get applauded for making such an enjoyable film with Rogue One. That said, no film is perfect and Rogue One does have its fair share of negatives, luckily those negatives are heavily outweighed by the film’s positives. Rogue One isn’t a perfect film and neither is it the best Star Wars film there is, but its so fun and captivating that it stands on its own as a great adventure in a galaxy far far away.

            Seeing as I normally tend to address negatives towards the end of my reviews, I’d like to change it up and blow the negatives out of the way so I can further concentrate on that which makes this film so good. First off, this film’s first acts do feel like they’re all over the place. You go from one planet to another to meet one character after another and in a matter of minutes you’re shoved with an immense amount of information you’re probably going to forget by the time the actual story begins. There’s also a jarring time-jump that seems to occur and the highly-publicized re-shoots are present in the film as key scenes that were in the trailer are entirely removed from the final product and Saw Gerrera’s role seems to be reduced quite a lot. But I won’t complain that much about that because Forest Whitaker’s approach towards the character is really weird. There’s also a random scene involving some-sort of psychic tentacle monster that’s really off-putting and could’ve definitely been taken out of the film as it doesn’t really do anything for the film. Something else that seems to occur because of the film’s rapid nature is a lack of characterization, which is incredibly prominent in Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, and Felicity Jones’s characters. They’re are awesome characters to follow around on this adventure, but they also seem under-developed, something that detracts the viewer from fully empathizing with them. Speaking of things that make that detract from the viewing experience, I’ll just mention the uncanny valley and its presence in this film.

          With that out of the way, I can officially gush about how delightful this film was. Without an opening crawl, Michael Giacchino’s score swells and you’re instantly taken to the fantastical galaxy where Star Wars takes place. We get a great little prelude with the Erso family and the title pops up on screen as we’re thrusted into the future. Its in this part of the film that we’re jumping around quite a lot and the film struggles to find its place, but once every planet and character is introduced, what proceeds is pure Star Wars at its best. Spaceships, wars, space wars,  dare I say star wars, small heroes doing big deeds, Mon Calamari admirals, and Darth Vader, Rogue One’s truly got it all. Something I must applaud this film for is how ingeniously it dealt with references towards the prequels and the original trilogy. Not only did it hint at said film, but there’s something extremely intelligent done that actually complements and answers one of the greatest frustrations some people even had with the original trilogy.

             As for action, Gareth Edwards proves once again he can coordinate epic battles. Not only does he place several fun action sequences throughout the film, but the third act of this film is mind-blowing. This film’s third act is worth the price of admission alone as it juggles so many different things at once in a perfect balance act of excellent editing and emotion. Besides the problems I had regarding the uncanny valley in this film, I can’t deny this film’s CGI is luscious. Its simply wondrous how incredible they’ve managed to make all these special effects and the way Edwards integrates it into action sequences is seamless. Gareth Edwards also does an amazing job integrating footage from a New Hope and making sure everything aligns with continuity perfectly, just keep on eye on Red Leader and how that all plays out. With Rogue One, Gareth Edwards proves his worth as an excellent action director who always finds fantastic ways to keep you engrossed in the action on screen.

           Within my negatives I mentioned the characters not being fully developed but still being absurdly awesome. What happened here is that Rogue One presents us with these awesome ensemble and as natural human beings we’re left with the knack to know more about them. Since Edwards never gives us that chance to delve into them and we have that urge to know more, as an audience, we’re never able to entirely understand these characters. That being said, the versions of the characters we’re presented with are awesome, especially Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO who steals the show. Everyone in the cast is also great, from Donnie Yen to Ben Mendelsohn’s gloriously over-the-top performance as the director supervising the Death Star’s construction. But, there’s always a stand-out and in this case its Tudyk’s sassy interpretation of reprogrammed security droid that takes the cake. But, before I finalize my thoughts, I can’t end this review without taking about Darth Vader. The guy’s one of or if not the best villain of cinema history and although he’s used sparingly in Rogue One, his presence is rapturously frightening. Despite the fact that the characters in this film aren’t fully realized, everyone’s performance in this film is fantastic, notably that of Alan Tudyk’s performance as K-2SO.

         Rogue One is a charming adventure and exciting step in the new direction in the Star Wars universe despite its notable flaws. Most importantly, its a fun film that understands what it is and what it means for the greater expanse of its galaxy. The characters presented are somewhat slim, but the performances are good enough that you end up enjoying those slivers of awesomeness Gareth Edwards gives you. The way Edwards handles action sequences is phenomenal, especially the incredible third act. Despite its flaws, Rogue One is an awesome venture through the scruffy Rebellion’s stance against the Galactic Empire.

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