I just saw Rogue One for my second time Friday night. It took me a little while to put everything down, but here’s my review. This review does contain spoilers, so consider yourself warned. OK, so the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek because it’s the only Star Wars spin-off film, but it’s still pretty darn good. Now for the review.
Rogue One. It simultaneously took risks and gave the fans what they wanted. It changed the formula of what defines Star Wars, but at the same time was definitively Star Wars. It was an excellent flick, but wasn’t perfect. Few films are.
I don’t know how much I can say that you didn’t hear somewhere else or see in some youtube review, but here goes.
There are so many differences between the episodic saga films and Rogue One. For starters, while the originals had the opening crawl, Rogue One does not. While the original films never told you what planet they are on, Rogue One does. You might say that the planet location titles at the beginning scenes takes the place of the opening crawl, because this added text might provide the explanation that the audience would have otherwise gotten from the opening crawl.
The music was different. There were a few sour notes in my ears, like when the Rogue One crew was about to jump into hyperspace from Yavin 4, and the Williams score seemed a bit off note or out of sync. Something was off.
Tarkin and Leia
While there were a lot of things very non-Lucasian about Rogue One, one thing was very true to form: taking CGI just a little bit too far. Don’t get me wrong here, I love Lucas and his work. But he always tried to push technology almost to a fault. My take on the CGI actors is that it is groundbreaking technology. It is amazing in 2016 that we can see actors that have aged or died again, but I don’t know if the tech is perfected enough to make these central characters.
Leia was actually pretty good. Perhaps this was because she was used so sparingly. While Leia was scarce, Tarkin was ample. I think the CGI Tarkin was a bit over-used. I thought some of this lines were on point. Towards the end, when he didn’t speak or when he said (if I recall correctly) “Fire when ready”, it was so emotional and perfect. There are other scenes, particularly toward the beginning, he just came across as lifeless and robotic. At places, Tarkin reminded me of the same lifelessness that I have seen in some of the Planet of the Apes movies. It’s a bit hard to describe, but I think there a subtle movements that distinguish life from non-life. When viewing the movie critically, these become a bit obvious.
As I said before the movie, these sort of scenes need to be used sparingly and in low light. They pushed it a bit too far. Had hey kept Tarkin to a few very low-light moments, and far away, and from behind, with just a few of the best moments saved, this movie would be almost perfect. Frankly they should have known how critical Tarkin would be and how a “less is more” strategy would have made it so much better.
EDIT: on my third view, a lot of this stuff didn’t bother me. It was only one scene with Tarkin, the one where he says “We need a statement not a manifesto” that looks bad to me. The others seemed OK. Also, when watching with other people that aren’t huge Star Wars fans they didn’t even know there were CGI characters in the film!
Some of the cameos were amazing. I think seeing Bale Organa was great, relevant, and this film served as a perfect connection between the PT and the OT, with Bale sort of handing the baton to Leia. This was something that I wanted to see, and I thought they handled it well.
Other cameos such as Dr Evazan seemed a bit of a stretch. How did he and his sidekick friend get from Jedha to Tatooine so quickly? This one seemed like it was shoe-horned in to only pay fanservice. The other cameos made more sense and might have sufficed better.
The cameos of the two pilots form A New Hope seemed like a stretch. Especially the guy that says “I’m going for my attack run” to which they appended “against the shield generator”. Admittedly, the voice was really good, but it took me out of the moment because it was obviously reused footage and audio from A New Hope. I give them credit for trying, and it was still cool to see this surprise. I didn’t expect it, and it was cool, but still obviously from the original.
Chirrut and Baze
Chirrut and Baze provided some comic relief and some awesome fight scenes. I only wish there were more of these great, well-choreographed fight scenes taking advantage of Donnie Yen’s ability. There were some opportunities for this on Scarrif perhaps. OK, so they did do one quick scene with a Storm Trooper taken down by Chirrut, but it was brief. I would have liked to have seen more.
Baze was just to support Chirrut. I thought that Baze was a bit wasted at the end. When he died, I thought he could have done so much more. Chirrut’s death was meaningful because he flipped the master switch, but Baze just shot some guys. Yeah, so Baze sort of goes back to his faith in the Force, but it would have been cooler to me if he would have done more at the end, like really go on a very long run and take out like 50 stormtroopers. Something amazing. Something to make Baze worthwhile as a character.
Space battles and Action
OK, so far I have been focusing on the negative. There were many positives. I thought the space battles were amazing! In general, the action of this movie was great.
The droid K2S0 really stole the show. He was great and funny the whole way through. I didn’t scrutinize the animation because as a character, he was so great. As far as I know, great design, great animation, great dialogue. This droid was on fleek.
I know I may have sounded harsh through much of this review, but I really liked it. The Vader scene at the end was downright amazing. Mind blowing. I kind of wished I hadn’t seen leaked footage of this before seeing the movie. It was so great and exactly what I and probably many fans wanted to see. If anything, I wanted more Vader. I wanted him to land on Scariff and take down a bunch of Rebels, but that didn’t happen. What we did see connects well with A New Hope. I don’t think I can say too much here that you didn’t hear elsewhere, but suffice to say I loved this scene.
I thought that Jyn was pretty good, but also pretty basic. I was really surprised to see Cassian shoot that guy at the beginning, but after that he was a pretty much standard Rebel. He was a little bit muddied on the edges, but this didn’t really become relevant after that one shot.
The action in this film was fast-paced, and well done. The special effects were all good. I could have like to see more with Moroff, and more of Bistan, but that’s fine. In fact it’s kind of cool how sparingly those side-characters were used.
I was amazed at how many scenes didn’t make the final cut of the film. For example, Jyn and Cassian running on the beach. Or how about Director Krennic walking on the beach inspecting the dead stormtroopers. There were many other scenes from the trailers that didn’t make the film. Is this bad? Not at all. I can only assume this was a wise decision for the film as a whole. It flowed so well, and never seemed slow. So whatever was cut out, it probably made the movie better.
In conclusion, I say go see this movie for yourself! It’s worth it. It’s a fun thrill ride that barely takes a rest. I’ve pointed out mostly flaws because that seems to be easier right now. The film had a lot to love as well! I have a tough time rating this film, but I think I put it below The Force Awakens, which I gave 4 out of 5 stars. Therefore, I give it:
3.8 out of 5 stars!
Here is my ranking: