Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)10:13 AM
Save the Rebellion. Save the Dream.
This review contains Spoilers
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) and stars Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Inferno), Diego Luna (Milk, The Terminal), Donnie Yen (Ip Man, Blade 2), Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Nightcrawler), Mads Mikkelson (Hannibal, Casino Royale) and Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels' The Butler, Arrival). Set before episode 4, 'The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow'. Rogue One promises to provide the answer to one of the only questions audiences had from episode 4 - will audiences be satisfied?
Rogue One is pretty good, I wouldn't go as far as saying it's one of the best Star Wars films or even one of the best films of the year but it is definitely a solid film that gives audiences their Star Wars fix before we return to the main trilogy next year - Rogue One definitely did a good job of reigniting my love for Episode 7 and excitement for Episode 8. This film is very dark and I think it gets that stylistic choice right - this film gives the DCEU and the Mockingjay films and run for their money, it's that dark! This works though as hope is also a key theme - it just makes sense. However, this film does have pacing issues and does take a while to get into which stops it from being the epic Star Wars war film that it could have been.
Unlike, The Force Awakens, the characters in this film aren't as interesting - I really don't have as much to say about the characters which is a shame. However, the film does do a good enough job of developing them and rounding them out as when they all die at the end, a sense of sadness is created. Before I go into the individual characters, I do want to take a pause and give Rogue One credit where credit is due - this film has balls. It is rare to find a film today that does. Going in, even though it is obvious and makes sense, I did not expect all of these characters to be killed off. That does make me think that Rogue One isn't as family friendly as the other Star Wars flicks so parents should go in aware of this. Some of the deaths were of course more powerful whilst others were much more subtle.
So the characters, Felicity Jones' Jyn is definitely no Rey - I came out of The Force Awakens obsessed with Rey but Jyn was just your average character who was interesting but not interesting enough to want to see more of. She was able to lead the film well (she wasn't as weak of a character as Newt in Fantastic Beasts) but I'm not too fussed about not seeing her again. Jones' performance is very good and Rogue One will definitely help her star to continue rising. What I liked about the character of Jyn is that she didn't have it easy and not everything went her way. She also didn't follow the crowd and does have some heroic moments. Her confrontation with Orson (Ben Mendelsohn) at the end of the film was also impressive and some of her lines did send shivers up my spine. Her character was definitely much more likeable and tolerable than the trailers were suggesting.
I also want to give Rogue One credit for having such a diverse cast - something Fantastic Beasts cannot be praised for. This diversity wasn't like tokenism either - everyone had a purpose and everyone worked as a team. The only token in this film was probably Jyn - I thought it was very strange how she was still the only female team member - this is something Hollywood needs to work on. However, none of these characters were interesting enough - every character in The Force Awakens was so interesting that I wanted to see more of them, this wasn't the case for Rogue One. All of the performances in the film were strong enough to hold everything together. There was one weak link though who just got his character so wrong - Forest Whitaker. His performance was very quirky and a little over the top for my liking. I would compare his performance to Samuel L. Jackson in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - I admittedly thought Jackson's performance worked because of the weird tone in Miss Peregrine but Whitaker was completely out of place in Rogue One. However, there was one scene-stealer....
K-2SO was fantastic and definitely is canon with the other Star Wars bots. K-2SO is sassy and provides most of the comic relief. Even though BB-8 did this too, I think the fact that K-2SO could speak really helped him to become a more likeable character. His death was also really hard to watch - the way this bot sacrifices himself was really admirable.
You know the ending of Rogue One going in due to its prequel nature - they are going to successfully get the plans to the Death Star. However, this film manages to make the journey much more interesting so this film is definitely worthwhile. However, I have to admit that the first act of this film is incredibly slow and I found it extremely hard to follow and stay interested - there was just so many location jumps, so many characters being introduced and not much action. However, I promise you the only way is up as this film ends on an incredible high with a terrific third act that is the definition of action packed. Not only do all of the shocking deaths occur in this third act but Rogue One manages to make long battle sequence that goes quickly and never gets boring. I have heard other critics rave about this third act and is definitely lives up to the hype as it is very good.
The cinematography is very good in this film, it is worth an Oscar nom if you ask me. Rogue One definitely utilities the exotic locations that the flick was filmed in - this really is a beautiful yet dark film. The visual effects are also as strong as ever - that is to be expected from Star Wars at this point though. However, what is really impressive is the technical advancements that I actually didn't realise were used until reading up on the film - I haven't religiously watched episodes 1-6 so I'm not too familiar with the Star Wars universe but it was excellent to see Peter Cushing resurrected through CGI - this made the film feel like it actually took place before Episode 4 with such a familiar face. It is also amazing that technology now allow filmmakers to use actors who are not with us anymore in scenes where they are fully involved. Cushing is a supporting character in this film - who would have though technology would allow that?
What excites me most about Rogue One is how it ties in with the Star Wars universe at large. There are many nods and connections to the original films. Whether that be a cameo from C3PO and R2D2 or the use of that brilliant technology that manages to bring young Princess Leia onto the 2016 big screen. This moment was definitely the most shocking and arguably most exciting in the whole film - when Leia turns around - I was amazed, technology is extremely clever. Darth Vader has a few scenes but he definitely was at his best towards the end when we get reminded just how powerful and dangerous he really is.
I liked Rogue One but I didn't love it and I don't feel inclined to go and spend too much money on merchandise (like I did with The Force Awakens) - but maybe that's because most of the characters are no longer with us. Rogue One breaks boundaries and has balls by basically killing off all of the characters it spends time developing. The visuals are impressive - both CGI and cinematography. There are also revolutionary technological advancements in this film that help to authentically tie in this film directly to Episode 4. The film is half dull and slow and half exciting and amazing. The characters are not too interesting but I would definitely recommend you see it...it's Star Wars - you have to see it!
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