Despite having a number of problems and flaws, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a whole lot of fun and another solid entry into an already great franchise.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first anthology Star Wars movie and what many are calling “Disney’s experiment.” If this movie succeeds, Disney can feel confident in releasing additional anthology movies, if it’s not then Disney will need to reset their course of action. With it’s release well underway, Disney can feel confident in the direction they’re going.
Rogue One simply tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans to the Death Star and sets up the plot for the Original Star Wars.
Now, there is a lot to like about this movie. This is a very good looking and well shot movie. The cinematography is beautiful at times. It’s very well directed and the action scenes are breathtaking at times. The third act alone is incredible and is a visual feast.
The movie also does a very good job at connecting things to episode 4. If you are familiar enough with the episode 4 and the Star Wars franchise you can hear a line, or see something happen that connects to it and it’s just very cool. It’s like finding a piece to a puzzle and watching it fit in to the rest of the picture.
The CGI (for the most part) is incredible. When the AT-AT Walkers in particular are jaw droppingly realistic. The space battles are exciting and thrilling and while Darth Vader doesn’t have a huge role in the movie, he does have one incredible scene in the movie that may just be my favourite Darth Vader moment of all time.
The performances are all universally pretty good. Felicity Jones is very good in the lead role. The movie mostly rides on her performance and she does a very good job. Mads Mikkelsen is also very good in his role, I wish he was in the movie just a little bit more, and Ben Mendelsohn is really good as the main villain of the movie.
However, while the performances from the actors are all great, the characters are not. There is absolutely no attempt to develop any of the characters save Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso. She’s the only one we ever learn anything about, she’s the only character we are meant to care for. Everyone else is just so poorly developed. Take Donnie Yen’s character Chirrut Îmwe. All we’re told is he is very in tune with the force, he’s blind and he protects the temple. His friend Baze Malbus we learn even less about. He’s really good with his gun… That’s it.That’s what every single other character is like. We are told one or two character traits and that’s it.
The Force Awakens cared for its characters so much more (I’m only comparing because both movies had to introduce new characters.) We learn so much about Rey, who she is, why we should care f0r her. We learn about what she yearns and desires for, we see her discover things about herself. We learn so much about Finn. Who he was, and his desires. Kylo Ren is probably the most interesting new character in the Star Wars franchise. We see this villain, so conflicted within himself. We learn a little about his backstory, his struggle. These are characters. These are well developed characters.
Rogue One just puts people on screen and is like, “here are some people. They’re good guys and they tell jokes so you should care about them.” It just doesn’t work. The characters need to be developed otherwise there is just no emotional weight in the movie. Just think of how much more emotional weight could of been felt in the last act. Sure there was some emotion, but I just found myself not really caring what would happen to the characters and I didn’t feel the emotion the movie wanted me to feel and that is because of how poorly the characters were developed.
The other big issue with the movie are the two CGI characters. I don’t want to spoil who the characters are, but there are two characters from the original movie that make appearances and well, they couldn’t really use the actors now so they had to digitally recreate them. As stated, the CGI in the movie is mostly incredible. I did however have issue with the two CGI characters. The one at the end isn’t a huge issue. The other one was very distracting and he is in the movie quite a bit. Every time he was on screen I just kept thinking, “He looks like a video game. It just doesn’t look real.” It was very distracting and he is in the movie a lot and it just pulled me out of the movie every time.
The pacing of the movie is also uneven. Within the first 5 minutes or so the movie jumps around so much from planet to planet and it feels very choppy. The movie also has a lot of exposition. From characters introducing themselves and saying who they are and what they do, to the movie literally putting lower thirds up to tell you where you are, it just felt kind of lazy.
Overall however, despite the flaws the movie has, Rogue One is a really good movie with incredible visuals, very good performances, and thrilling action sequences. Plus, it’s Star Wars.