By Nick Imholte
Spoiler Alert! This review contains mild spoilers for the movie. At the end of the Review there is a “Major Spoiler” warning where I will discuss a few topics in detail that will have major spoilers which you should only read if you have seen Rogue One.
Call me what you want, but going into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I just didn’t care. I had seen the previews, read the articles and tried to let myself become hyped for the newest addition to the Star Wars universe, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make myself be excited for this Star Wars movie. So much so, that for the first time in 5 Star Wars releases, I didn’t bother getting opening night tickets. Does this make me a bad fan? Yeah, probably, but I am okay with that. So, Sunday I finally did it, I saw Rogue One and I am glad I did.
Now, before I start a breakdown of the movie, let me just say, that I am only going to include minor spoilers for most of the article, but towards the end I will give a “MAJOR spoiler” warning as there are a couple of aspects of the movie that I absolutely need to discuss that will give away the entire plot.
The first striking thing about Rogue One is there is no opening “crawl.” Now I understand the whole reasoning behind it, but the movie just felt naked without it. It just didn’t feel like I was starting a Star Wars movie without the famous crawl. Like I said I get why they didn’t but I also feel like if they make a movie that isn’t important enough to the story to have an opening crawl, they have to ask themselves the question, “is it worth making this movie?” (Spoiler alert, the answer is “yes,” yes, it is worth it.)
Now moving on to the movie itself, I felt that the acting was pretty good. Most of the actors did a decent job portraying the characters as they were written and were believable enough to fit into the Star Wars universe. They only exception I have is one singular scene where Felicity Jones (who plays Jyn Erso) was giving what was supposed to be a huge uplifting pep talk to the Rebel Alliance to convince them to follow her to save the galaxy by stealing the plans which detail a purposeful flaw, which she wants to exploit to destroy the Death Star. The entire monologue fell flat, and wouldn’t have even convinced me to walk across the street with her to get tacos if I was hungry, let alone risk my life for someone I had never met before and didn’t know if I could trust. Now I don’t know if this was truly her fault, or if the writing in that scene just didn’t lend itself for something the actress felt she could connect with to convey what was needed.
This leads up to the writing portion of the review. All in all, the writers did a great job writing a “Star Wars” movie. It had some great one liners and cheesy moments, and stayed well within the comfort of the universe us fans have come to love. The fact they managed to pull this off was impressive considering how much darker and violent this movie was. There were times I forgot I was watching a sci-fi movie and thought it was a straight up war movie. During one of the final scenes where we see the BEST part of the movie, (anyone who has seen it knows what part I am talking about.) I almost felt like I was in a horror movie as someone paints the walls red with their victims.
The effects were very well done mixing both practical effects and CGI tastefully in both regards. Nothing in movie seemed out-of-place or hokey (apart from one line of dialogue which I will cover in the “major spoilers” section.) The Star Destroyers and smaller X-wing and Tie Fighter type ships seemed to mix practical effects and CGI seamlessly to where you, at points, couldn’t differentiate the two. Plus, let’s take a moment to discuss the team bringing Peter Cushing back from the dead to return to the Star Wars universe! I was really afraid that it would be poorly done and detract from any momentum the film carried. However, when I saw his face in the reflection of the window he was looking out, I thought to myself “oh so that’s how they are going to pull this off.” Then, much to my amazement he turned around and had full scenes and dialogue several times throughout the movie. I was stunned! There was another scene where they used CGI for a character (which will also be discussed in the major spoiler section) that was really well done, but I have heard many criticize it for not looking quite as real and natural. But all in all, the special effects were very much on par for what I would hope for with today’s technology plus some!
The previews made me feel like the movie was going to be a weird combination of a samurai, western, and sci-fi movie, but much to my surprise, the movie was more just a closer look at the war movement of the rebellion. From the terroristic methods, some of the rebels attempt which is honestly reminiscent of the way most of the Middle Eastern conflicts have played out in real life using ambush methods of attack. To the fully organized section of the rebellion which launch careful strategic attacks and fight skirmishes against the Imperials.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One. Being a Star Wars movie with no Jedi, almost no Light Sabers, and a brand-new batch of characters, this film did a great job introducing, giving back story, and convincing us to care about them enough to be emotionally attached to them by the end of the just over two-hour movie! I would highly recommend seeing it! I have heard many people saying this is the best Star Wars movie yet, and even people saying it’s one of the best movies they have ever seen. However, I do not see it. While I enjoyed it, I don’t think this movie ranks on my top movie list or anything like that. It was though a fun movie which makes a great addition to the Star Wars saga! If you have not seen it already, go see it! Also, if you have not seen it I would go ahead and leave now before I drop the…
Now that it’s just people who have seen the movie at this point let’s discuss something that has been bothering me the entire time since seeing the movie! Darth Vader’s one line that just did not fit into the movie or character whatsoever!!! Come on force choking someone and then saying “Don’t choke on your aspirations.” COME ON!!! That was terrible! Vader in my opinion would NEVER have said something like that. The movie also had enough one-liners to hold us over until we got to the next one if we skipped that one! It just felt so forced (pun not intended.) They went for the low hanging fruit with that one and should be ashamed for doing it. Vader was such a bad ass in that movie, he didn’t have to be witty on top of it.
As for Vader being a badass, I went in hearing from both the press and friends that Vader was so ruthless in this and so good. They were 100% right, but with as big of a deal as they made it, I just assumed there was a lot more “bad-assery”, not just one scene where he unleashed hell on the rebel scum. It definitely left me wanting much more ruthless Darth Vader. How cool though was it to see him brutally attacking and killing rebels and watching them flee like rats from a sinking ship? It really felt like one of the most intense scenes in a movie in recent memory!
The ending was more or less perfect in my opinion. I knew that Rogue One was prior to “A New Hope” but had no clue it was going to leave us off what could be just minutes or seconds from the start of “A New Hope”!!! This was a really cool way to handle the ending and was perfect as far as I am concerned. Plus seeing a young Princess Leia again, was a major jaw dropper, especially how good of a job they did.
Another really cool thing they handled was how they took care of pretty much all of the main characters. I was wondering if all these people were big names for their period, why they were never shown in any other Star Wars film. Well, here we have the perfect way, kill them all! It was great but almost comical how towards the end it was like “oh ok, I guess it’s time for them to die.” But it did prove to me that they did a decent job with the characters, because each time one of the major ones fell, it made me really wish there was more to their story!
After seeing Rogue One, I am excited what the future anthologies have to offer. This first one has given the others some big shoes to fill, and set the bar pretty high. I am really hoping the others do just as well, if not better at telling a story within the rich Star Wars universe while standing not entirely utilizing the main story, timeline, or characters. These could really breath a fresh life into Star Wars that even “The Force Awakens,” was not able to!