Reviews: Rogue One
Innocence Lost (Spoilers!)
Rogue One is what happens when you decide to take a gritty, cynical take on what started out as an innocent, light-hearted Space Opera. No, I'm not here to tell you that this film doesn't need to exist. Technically, no work of fiction ever needed to exist; it exists because its creators (A) got some benefit from it, (B) wanted to create it. That's not what this is about. No, this is about how Rogue One changed my outlook on Star Wars forever — presumably for the worse. And I say that as someone who is absolutely obsessed with this franchise. Rogue One was advertised as gritty, grey-on-black war film with little to no mysticsim. That's exactly what it is. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you. Before seeing the movie, I was pumped at the possibilities. In hindsight...not so much.
SPOILERS!!!!Ready? Okay.... The Death Star plans, the reason this film (and A New Hope) exist in the first place, were shown in a new light in this film. Or rather, the way they were obtained was. TL;DR: Every one of the major characters dies. Every. Single. One. Forget the innocence of A New Hope. Forget the mysteries of The Force. Forget the awesomeness of seeing the good Rebel Alliance go up against the evil Galactic Empire. This movie shows the Alliance as being willing to commit terrorist acts against nameless Imperial grunts who may or may not have been conscripted. I actually thought that Saw Garrera's insurgents (I hesitate to call them "Rebels") drew (unintentional) comparisons to ISIS. (The fact that they look like Islamist terrorists doesn't help.) The only reason we're still rooting for the Rebels at all in this movie is that the Empire is worse than they are — Cassian Andor outright says that everyone involved has committed acts they're not proud of in service to the Rebellion. Now don't get me wrong. This movie is at the very least a 7/10. Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to see it at least once. Just know that the movie will change your outlook on the franchise forever. It's the cinematic equivalent of, well, being raised by your aunt and uncle and going on to join the military, upon which you wind up saving the lives of elementary-school kids and get a medal. Then your aunt and uncle tell you that your parents weren't married when they gave birth to you, and they died trying to obtain fascist secrets that were only possible to get because they joined forces with an international drug cartel. In other words, it's...rather sobering.
Another Rogue One review, I\'ve got a bad feeling about—
I will start off by stating that I pretty much got what I expected when I saw the initial trailers. A Star Wars film taking place outside of the main Skywalker storyline, starring Darth Vader and the infamous Death Star plans from A New Hope and some new characters. I knew it would be polarizing and I wouldn't like it as much as the Star Wars it came fresh off the heels of. I was right on both counts. Are there flaws to this movie? Certainly, and not the kind that can be easily overlooked as with the last Star Wars film. The heroes are not fleshed out well, as has been said ad nauseum; it's basically a lesser version of the commando team from Predator, minus an Arnold. The pacing is off, and it's noticeable that there were some last minute changes. And the ending, while really cool, is also very abrupt; most SW movies take a bit more time to lead us out, but I guess Rogue One isn't really supposed to be most SW movies. It's a style over substance film for sure, but that's not to say it's awful and worthless. They do try to humanize each character, even the droid... especially the droid. I really liked Donnie Yen's Chirrut, and Ben Mendelsohn's Krennic was in many ways the most compelling character. Forrest Whitaker plays a weird rebel Foil to Darth Vader, with a breathing mask, cyborg features, and freaky interrogation methods. It's in the Uncanny Valley, but I was astonished at the motion capture recreation of Peter Cushing as Tarkin; he ended up being one of my favorite parts. And, of course, I have to commend the filmmakers because I don't think Vader has ever been scarier. The thing Rogue One builds upon after The Force Awakens is the palpability with which this world is portrayed. Everything feels really visceral and lived in. It's some of the best displays of Storm Troopers and Imperial tech I've seen. I believe the desperation and fear everyone has of The Empire, and the rebels in dire straits. The way they convey the power of the force through the blind Chirrut. The tone reminded me somewhat of the video game gem Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. For those bemoaning this movie's "dreariness", I feel like it's important to remember that Rogue One's timeline takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Probably the most depressing period in the history of the galaxy. That's the emotional focal point of the film, finding that glimmer of hope in the darkest of times. A... new hope, you might say. Oh Star Wars, always so subtle and clever with the symbolism. Overall, Rogue One was a decent flick elevated by a classy and engrossing Star Wars backdrop. Decent but lacking. It isn't the first hyped up, money-maker of a movie to be seen as just decent but lacking.
A Problem of Scope
One of the chief ambitions of Rogue One was to humanize the Red Shirt brigade of the Rebel Alliance and focus on the ordinary members fighting against the Empire. While the movie definitely succeeds in bringing to life the struggles of the Alliance, it falls just a little short breathing life into background characters as whole who count themselves as rebels. While the main characters are three dimensional, the crew itself is set apart from the Alliance at large,, even if the crew does attract more support via Castian. While it is easy to sympathize with the central characters, the Alliance itself still remains at a distance. Beyond the scope concerning framing the Rogue One crew over the rest of the rebels, an immediate problem with the beginning of the film was focus. The film switches back forth from protagonist to protagonist, time to time, and planet to planet. This makes it somewhat difficult to gain a bearing or an anchor for the audience. Moving onto character development, Castian supposedly has a change of heart regarding killing Galen because of Jyn, but there is little to show why he does so, when it was made apparent that he was clinical when it came to the lives of those who endangered the Alliance in hisEstablishing Character Moment. Meanwhile, Jyn seemingly rapidly changes from apathetic and self-interested to a true rebel by the end of the movie. While some change is implied to be because of her father, some more backstory concerning Jyn's own ideals before she was abandoned would have been needed to really sell the idea of her returning to her former convictions. Another avenue that would've made this shift seem more organic would have be to make the entire thing about carrying out her father's last wish or avenging him. The last big problem is the problem of character relationships. Jyn and Gerrera's relationship as well as her relationship with her father come off as a bit shallow. Concerning her father, it is to be understood that she is emotional when wanting to be reunited, but the scene isn't well set for her urgency, given her apathetic disposition at the beginning of the movie. The audience does not get see enough of what Jyn is going through emotionally. Furthermore, on the count of the hints of romance between Jyn and Castian, it seems out of place — simply in the movie because a writer felt a female and male lead should be paired. In the end, the biggest problem with Rogue One is that it tries to do too much within the span of one movie. Despite the long list of problems, I do not think that Rogue One is a bad movie. In contrast, it was a solid film, with last half being a fun action picture. The movie does a good job of making the rebels a little more real, grounding it as an uphill struggle. The characters of Rogue One are an interesting bunch that add variety and color to the franchise at large while telling a vital part of the Star Wars story.
Rogue One: I dig it
Rogue One is consciously different from any other Star Wars film, in the way The Force Awakens was a naked facsimile of A New Hope, and that's at the crux of why I love it. No Jedi, no Sith, no opening crawl, the use of flashback, the cast is mostly new, the tone is different, and I actually really like Michael Giacchino's score. This was the adult, modern Star Wars film that was promised, and I don't miss the whimsy at all. The Great:
- The final battle, especially that Hammerhead corvette scene.
- Alan Tudyk's performance as K 2 SO and Donnie Yen's as Chirrut are the standouts among the cast, but I really liked Diego Luna's Cassian Andor, as well.
- The scenes of the Death Star's weapon firing down on planets are spectacular.
- The setting feels more lived in, with grim, grit, and mud everywhere.
- The writing is darker and shows a side of the Rebellion that isn't as morally pure, but doesn't become mindlessly cynical.
- The ending. You'll understand why.
- The pacing in the first third could have been better. The change in setting and action is frenetic. I suspect the reason planet names are shown is because the setting changes so frequently.
- Saw Gerrera is underused, and comes off as cartoonishly insane. There really wasn't a reason to have him in the film outside of a tie-in cameo.
Anemic and dreary
The upsides? A good, solid, and non-monochrone cast. Oh, and the droid played by the graduate of the Joss Whedon school of anti-heroes that came off as the love child of PROXY and HK-47. The premise of a Lower-Deck Episode without the "demigods" as described in David Brin's harsh criticism of the series. The downsides? Pretty much everything else. It seemed to be going for Deconstructor Fleet in talking about all the Muggle men and women caught up in the ceaseless wizards' religious war driving the series, but fell flat. We know from the outset that this is pretty much going to end badly for our gang of RedShirts, so no real time or effort is spent in characterization or making us care about them. The script is so obsessed with trying to go "gritty" that it more or less comes across like a dreary Oscar Bait WW2 film with palatte-swapped X-wings, mixed with a half-hearted Ripped from the Headlines in trying to draw parallels between the Rebel Alliance and contemporary Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters, which also falls flat in the universe's context. The only humor comes from the droid, and that's mostly due to Tudyk's mastery of Sarcasm Mode. They bounce around planets and locations so fast that no effort is made to develop a feel for any of the locations. They probably could have cut about two planets and two characters and not lost anything. The music is anemic, which is very jarring; it's fine for Marvel films to have unforgettable elevator music, but Star Wars? Even if you couldn't get Williams, there are still composers like Jeremy Soule (KOTOR) that could have delivered a decent score. Overall, a mess of a film that should have been better than it was.
Space without Opera
Rogue One is Disney's first big test to see if they can do something different with the Star Wars franchise. It even avoids using the main theme and title scroll, just to show how serious it is about doing something new. Unfortunately this test might have gone a bit better if the movie still didn't depend so much on the other films for inspiration. The film positions itself chronologically between the prequels and the original trilogy. In terms of quality that is also where I would put it. I spent a lot of Rogue One being bored and fidgety. There isn't a lot of action early on, and the movie is on some kind of fast shuffle mode, skipping to a new planet every three minutes to introduce yet another character hiding in another dingy alleyway. I take it as a fault of the movie that I can't recall a single character's name or motivation. Much like any movie with a large ensemble cast, they are reduced to a single character defining quirk - be it the spiritualist guy, or his cynical buddy, or (Forrest Whitikar's character) the redundant guy. The two stand out performances come in the form of a mouthy battle droid (who may or may not hate everyone) and a delightfully hammy, cloak swishing villainous officer. Everyone else has a much more miserable, muted performance in a poe faced production. It is Space Opera without the opera. This grim, gritty tone stands at odds with the goofy lazer sword, space magic movie it borrows from. Outside of the characters, the other big misstep is the plot. This movie seemingly exists to expand on a passing quirk from the original trilogy. You know what else did this? The prequel movies. It is hardly satisfying, getting answers to the questions that didn't need asking. The bigger problem with this is that whilst the movie is simply about a gang of rebels trying to find the flaw in a Deathstar, the movie takes a very convoluted route to get to that point. The constant planet hopping, superfluous character introductions and debates get in the way. It might be me not paying attention, but I think there is even a continuity error in there, with characters appearing on an entirely different shuttle craft between scenes. A lot of people seem to enjoy the finale, but outside of a few admittably cool looking moments, I think people are talking the exact same way they did immediately after they saw Episode 2: "Hey this one had a Boba Fett vs Jedi Fight!" or "there was a really big Jedi fight!". You are picking out a couple of stylish moments from a largely forgettable, muddy movie.
All is as the force wills it.
(spoilers ahoy) The core logic behind Rogue One's concept is simple: It's a Lower-Deck Episode, centering on a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits completely unrelated to the main movies trying to do one smaller yet crucial act of heroism that will later enable "greater heroes" to finish off evil. It's an appealing concept, but does the movie do it well? Yes and no. The primary aspect of the movie is that it is centered on the final action setpiece, in which the movie is truly phenomenal both regarding the action and dramatic moments ("I am one with the Force, the Force is with me"), hitting excellent notes of tragedy and beauty amidst the war. The primary problem of the movie is that it has no idea how to get to that point, so the first 1/2 is aimless as Hell, with Jyn and co mostly going around the Galaxy buying time until the climax. Jyn herself keeps up the Star Wars Vanilla Protagonist tradition, so she isn't a interesting character at all, ergo the first half being mostly focused on her arc with her dad weakens the movie considerably. Her dad, "sympathetic collaborator of the Empire" aside, isn't very interesting either. In the first half, Rogue One decides to play with the moral ambiguity and shadyness of the Rebel vs Empire conflict, with darker heroes and a grittier feel. But while there's some hits within that idea (like Andor's moral dilema, Jyn's dad collaborating with the Empire), there's also some misses (the villain remains just a one-note Hate Sink and Saw Gerrera the "dark" rebel isn't really dwelled upon, so he's a complete waste) so these attempts mostly fall flat. But in the second half/the climax, the movie gives the team its chance to truly shine in the final battle, and we get the movie's most touching and epic moments, usually involving the characters's Heroic Sacrifice. The primary thing the movie excels at is not moral ambiguity, it is defiance in the face of overwhelmign tyranny, which is why the second half of triumphant rebellion in the face of overwhelming odds is a lot stronger. Chirrut Imwe and Baze have the film's strongest arcs, suiting the film's strengths: the believer in dark times whose faith is eventually rewarded and the believer in a Crisis of Faith who eventually regains his faith. These two should have been the protagonists, not Jyn and Andor (who are fairly bland with fairly bland arcs). So. in short: The film has a very unfocused first half and it'd have benefitted from some cleaning up and tightening on the script (like expanding on Saw's role and reworking the Ersos), but the second half is so pitch-perfect it ellevates the movie to a rarely-reached quality levels. So despite a rocky start, it picks up fantastically, as the Force wills it. 8/10.
A worthy addition to the Star Wars Franchise
Bringing new stuff to Star Wars while keeping the spirit of the series. That's maybe the greatest accomplishment of Rogue One, who completely surpasses The Force Awakens in my view. While Rogue One has many flaws such as a weak protagonist, and clichés side characters, it shines in so many other categories these flaws can be overlooked imo. -Action scenes are on point. The X-Wing raid and Scarif battle were among my favorite battle scenes of the whole franchise! -World building. This movie brings the POV of the small Red Shirts that usually die in the background and it works magnificently! We get the geopolitics of the Prelogy, with great portrayal in the rifts inside the factions of the movie; we get the religious side of the Trilogy as Donnie Yen's character who brings up the Force in ways many more touching and impressive than Force lightning. We now focus on the grittier side of the war, the backstabbing and the danger as Plot Armor was clearly put away this time for everyone. Well the Death Star is portrayed as it should be and I haven't been so impressed by the Star Destroyers since A New Hope's intro. Vader is shown as the absolute terror to ordinary soldiers he wasn't quite portrayed in the Trilogy. It was so different yet undeniably Star Wars, as a fan I was delighted to see all this. In conclusion, do not go see it for the characters, but see it because of how as a whole, Rogue One makes a great depiction of the Star Wars universe.
Competely changed my perspective on A New Hope.
Where to begin? There was a ton of great action in the movie, but the first 30 minutes of the movie were a bit slow for me. The movie improved massively after it, so I have no major complaints there after that, but those first 30 minutes were slow, IMO. Cassian effin' Andor, man. I love him. By far the goddamn MVP of this movie. Every single line, every single moment with him was amazing. Jyn was good too, but Diego Luna stole the hell out of this movie. I like Bodhi Rook a lot too, but I wish that we’d gotten more of him? He’s a cargo pilot, so I wasn’t expecting him to fight or anything, but I’m really curious about the backstory with him and Galen. I mean, they clearly know each other. So what’s the deal? Donnie Yen as Chirrut and Jiang Wen as Baze were so amazing and one of the most heartbreaking parts of this entire movie. Like……”I am one with the force, the force is with me?” Don't mind me, there's something in my eye Rogue One is great and LINES UP PERFECTLY TO SET UP A NEW HOPE. It literally ends minutes before ANH starts. Think about that. Also, can I gush about the special effects in this movie? The Battle of Scarif is the most tension-inducing space and ground battle I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars film. Certain CGI recreations of characters from past Star Wars movies (especially two very important ones from A New Hope, the movie that chronologically takes place after Rogue One) are very well done IMO, although I've heard that others found them to be a bit much on the side of Uncanny Valley, so YMMV. The final scene is extremely tear-inducing, but in a good way. It's all about hope. If you see the movie, you'll know what I mean. In my perspective, comparing Rogue One and The Force Awakens is completely unnecessary, because aside from the fact that they're both films that take place in the Star Wars universe, both movies are basically two different genres. TFA is a space opera adventure film while Rogue One is a war movie. And that's what Rogue One proved to me, that different types of genres can work cinematically in the Star Wars universe. All in all, this movie gets a solid 8.5/10 from me.
Not terrible buuuuuuuut...
So something that was talked about all over the place in the promotion for this was to make it like The Empire Strikes Back. Dark, gritty, even bleak at times. And though the movie certainly hits that note, it lacks an emotional, personal weight you need to really make something match what happened in Empire. The Force Awakens captured that tone far better; in spite of the scale of the conflict and the threat of the latest Superweapon, that movie was still squarely about new characters Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren. With RO however, we're introduced to a whole slew of new characters and though they're all solid enough, I'd say that only Imperial defector Bohdi Rook and repurposed Imperial droid K-S 2 O really felt like they grew or had meaningful arcs. If it had been just the story of how the Death Star plans were stolen, it could've worked better. Similarly, if they'd done something similar to Force Awakens and treat that purely as backdrop for a personal story of revenge or redemption or something for leading lady Jyn Erso, that would've worked better too. But instead we're ultimately left with a decent Star Wars movie. Was it ambitious? Maybe. But it would've been so much more, if it hadn't tried to be so much.
Rogue One - A Star Wars Story Review (Spoiler Free)
Rogue One! THE GOOD- DARTH VADER - Most of the characters are likeable, my favourites being snarky robot K-2SO, and badass warriors Chirrut and Baze. - The director, Gareth Edwards (the director of Godzilla (2014)) once again proves his mastery of scale, as everything in this movie **feels HUGE***! - Krennic is a good villain - The grim tone and pitch-perfect, unexpected ending - Actually makes A New Hope better! - And the space battles! THE BAD Creepy CGI Tarkin - The first third is real wonky - Some of the line deliveries are a bit flat and awkward - Vader delivers a full-on pun. Unnecessary. - A couple of gratuitous cameos - Giacchino's score leaves a lot to be desired.