After seeing Rogue One – A Star Wars Story for the second time yesterday I stand by my previous statement that it is the best Star Wars movie of all time.
It has a few legitimate criticisms, and it is not a perfect movie, but it is a fantastic movie and a great sign of what might be to come from the Star Wars franchise.
Here is my full review. I am starting off with no spoilers and I will give fair warning before I start getting into the details.
For the first twenty minutes or so of the film I did not feel like I was watching a Star Wars movie. There is no title fan fare. There is no opening crawl. There is something that just seems quite different than we are used to expecting from Star Wars.
One of those things that makes this movie so different is the dark and gritty feel to it. Everything is cold and dirty and wet. There are dark and gritty settings in other Star Wars movies, but this just seems darker than the rest.
We also start the movie jumping from planet to planet and introducing different characters. This was something else that made the movie feel different. The transitions. I think it also slowed the movie down for a little bit. The first time I watched the movie I had a bad feeling about how it was playing out.
But things got better.
There is a lot of comic relief in the movie in the form of the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO. But this comic relief comes in the form of sarcasm and smart assed remarks, because K-2 seems to have no filter and he just says “anything that comes in his circuits.”
That is a far cry from the bumbling comic relief of C-3P0 or Ewoks or even Jar Jar Binks. A darker more grittier comic relief that lends to the different feel of this movie.
The first half of the movie plays out and you really are not forced to care about any of the characters. In fact, Captain Cassian Andor is actually quite an asshole in many ways. This is a criticism that I have heard from many viewers, but I did not notice it when I watched the movie. I think because they are banking on us caring for the situation and using the emotional investment we already have in the Star Wars Universe.
After watching A New Hope we know that the Rebels went through a lot of shit to get the plans to the Death Star. So watching this movie brought up that curiosity of what they actually went through. I cared about the characters only because of my knowledge going into the movie, not because of anything that really happened during the movie.
The second half of Rogue One really picks up and becomes an outright war movie. A war movie like we have not seen in the Star Wars universe before. The action is packed in and the tension is high. The suspense is not there since we already know the successfully steal the plans. But it gets crazier and crazier as we watch the Rebels take chance after chance after chance until they start running out of chances.
The ending of the movie is epic. There is a lot of fan service in the last ten minutes, but it is done so brilliantly that you can’t even be mad about it. The movie leaves you with a powerful right hook that drops you to your knees and makes you dazed as the credits start rolling.
The beginning of the movie is a little slow…the middle picks up and gets you excited…and the ending is nuts and redeems everything about the movie that is wrong. Hardcore fans will love it. Casual fans will like it. Movie watchers will probably enjoy it.
NOW HERE COME SPOILERS
There were a lot of references and easter eggs for Star Wars fans to notice. The one thing that seemed a little too shoe horned in was the appearance of R2-D2 and C-3P0. We see them in the hanger of the Rebel base as everyone is scrambling into battle. A quick comment from 3P0 about never being told anything and we move on. It just felt weird and also made you wonder how they got to their ship so fast so they could be with Leia.
My first impression of Darth Vader was mixed. We get a creepy look at him in a bacta tank that looks cool. We get a powerful entrance as he comes out to meet Director Krennic. But we also get a Darth Vader suit that seems like it was a Halloween costume and not a movie prop. And we get a line of dialogue that sounds like Arnold should be saying it in an 80s action movie. After force choking Krennic Vader says, “don’t choke on your aspirations.” That actually made me groan.
But the final shots of Darth Vader are epic. He appears in a hallway right after the Rebels get the plans and he hacks away at them as if they are nothing but flies. They are screaming for help and scared to death. This last scene of Vader was perfect.
I do not hate CGI. I only hate bad CGI. There is a ton of good CGI in Rogue One. The landscapes and exotic locations. The beautiful shots of space filled with ships. They all look fantastic and gorgeous. But for Grand Moff Tarkin the CGI was pretty bad. Peter Cushing played Tarkin in the orginal trilogy, but he passed away in 1994. Since Tarkin is a major player in the Star Wars universe during this time frame they could not leave him out. So instead of re-casting a look a like they just animated his face in a computer. And the CGI is so noticeable it took me out of the story for a moment. Animating a human face has improved greatly over the years, but it still is not perfect.
There was also CGI for Princess Leia, but for some reason this did not seem as noticeable. In fact when I saw it the first time I really thought it was a look a like made up to resemble Carrie Fisher. I think the reason it was not so drastic was possibly the softer lines of the face, and the fact that we only saw here for a single brief moment as she spoke one word of dialogue.
Everyone dies at the end. I figured that most of the characters would die. It seemed like the only reasonable thing to do since they were all characters we have never seen before. If they were so vital in the rebellion surely we would have seen them in the original trilogy, right?
I am glad that they had the balls to kill everyone off, because it made for a better ending. And it was done very well. Chirrut uses the Force to help the battle and then sacrifices himself so they can establish communications with the fleet. Baze is stunned by the loss of his dear friend and decides he will take out as many troopers as he can before being killed himself. Even K-2 has an honorable death that hits you right in the feels. And then we slowly realize that no one from the Rogue One Squadron is leaving that planet alive.
All those deaths make A New Hope even more powerful. The plans are so important to the Rebellion and the Rebels went through some serious shit to get them.
I still think about the criticisms a lot of people have that it just doesn’t feel like a Star Wars movie. They are right. It feels a lot different than we are used to, but I think that is a good thing. It is darker. It really has no characters that would appeal to younger kids. No BB-8 or Ewoks or any cute funny little guys. And it is full of death and destruction.
It is the only Star Wars film besides Revenge of the Sith to earn a PG-13 rating. But I think the box office results and the reviews have shown that the fans are quite ready for grittier Star Wars films.
I’ve rambled on about the film. There are good things and bad things. It is not a perfect film, but the “bad” things about the movie are not so bad that it takes away from the enjoyment and the thrill of the movie.
What are some of the things you liked or did not like about the movie?