Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I had a few initial worries about this film. I’m a giant Star Wars fan and even a bit of an apologist for some of the stuff that occurs in the prequels. I also greatly enjoyed The Force Awakens and think the film held up on a re-watch. Saying that, I was worried that having another Star War film a year after TFA may have been overkill. I was also worried about Felicity Jones being a lead. Inferno was a bad film and I thought Felicty Jones was not very good in it. I thought the film was in a good filmmaker’s hands, as Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla (while not without flaws) was an enjoyable blockbuster. My bare minimum for the film was to just be better than the previous prequels, a feat that shouldn’t have been too hard. Now after seeing the film I can say that I am satisfied.

This was my first IMAX 3D venture. I was unfamiliar with how IMAX 3D would look but it was amazing to see the characters pop out of the screen. The film immediately (without an opening scroll which was a bit disappointing) goes into who Jyn Erso really is, and her quest to find her father and recover plans to destroy the Death Star. Much like with The Force Awakens, you are introduced to a multitude of new characters and a new droid, K-2SO. K-2SO is a wonderful character, and its very obvious that he is the comic relief of the film. Its much needed to because its hard to rely on the other characters. Some of the other characters like Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook and Wen’s Baze Malbus feel underdeveloped and its hard to get invested in them. I’ll come out and say its hard to get invested in many of the characters as there isn’t any emotional connection or dimensional aspect to a few of them. This even includes Diego Luna’s Cassian. As opposed to Finn and Rey in The Force Awakens who you connect with instantly. I thought Felicity Jones for the most part did a solid job in a leading role, although I kind of cringed when she was trying to cry upon seeing a hologram of her dad. Its hard to criticize acting in the Star Wars films because come on, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen were awful in the prequels and had some of the most awkward chemistry ever seen.

The films strongest point is most certainly the battles. The land battle is the best seen since the one in The Empire Strikes Back. The flying space battles are relatively great as well. The digital effects look good, especially in a certain scene near the end. I feel like if I wasn’t wearing 3D glasses I’d be able to take in the giant nature of the expansive battles but that’s just something I’ll have to look forward to when I re-watch the film. The score of the film is grandiose as you would expect in a Star Wars film. It does not disappoint.

I think the best part of the film is, hands down, witnessing Darth Vader again. James Earl Jones returns to voice him. I’m not sure if its the case, but his costume model looked slightly different in the helmet but I might be wrong. His first scene is great and his battle scene is so memorable. Its nice to see an iconic character in film have a resurgence all these years later and still be so badass. Also don’t even act like mentioning Vader is a spoiler; he’s in the trailer.

I think Rogue One felt fairly dark. Star Wars is generally pretty family friendly. And while there is violence and adult themes in these films, Rogue One had an air of bleakness and hopelessness. You know what will happen to these characters, its already written. That’s why in the third act we get a real sense of it with the fate of some characters. However, that hopelessness immediately turns into hope and the film ends in an exciting and prospective way.

Rogue One is not better than The Force Awakens for me. The Force Awakens was a cinema experience that was fun from start to finish. Rogue One is less show in a narrative sense and more business when it comes to the facts of the story and the technical aspects of warfare. Rogue One is still a great cinematic experience in the sense that the battles are still incredible to watch, and the film boasts a few moments that fans of the series will just love. Those moments bumped the films rating up a number for me.

8/10

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