Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an epic space opera film and the first stand-alone Star Wars Anthology film. It is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones.
Rogue One takes place between Episodes III and IV of Star Wars, where Garen Erso, a research scientist for the Galactic Empire, is in hiding with his family. The Empire finds him and forces him to return to work on the Death Star. Erso's daughter, Jyn, is found fifteen years later by the Rebels, who want to use her to find her father and prevent the Death Star from being completed. Jyn discovers a message left by her father, who reveals that he designed a flaw within the Death Star that can destroy it completely. Jyn, with several other Rebel troops by her side, sets out to retrieve the Death Star plans, and possibly find her father as well.
Don't you hate it when a film seems so full of itself? That's a nagging impression I got from watching Rogue One, a film that seems to believe that just because it has the words Star Wars slapped onto its title, it's automatically an incredible piece of cinema. Rogue One is more of an ostentatious work of cinema that provides little more than nostalgia value to keep the Star Wars hype train chugging along until Episode VIII comes out next year.
- The nostalgia. I won't deny that there is some giddy excitement that comes from watching old-school Stormtroopers fire their blasters and seeing Darth Vader on screen (sparingly though). The action sequences are a nice reminder as to why we loved the original trilogy so much, especially if someone watched them in their earlier childhood.
- The giant fight when the Rebels are retrieving the Death Star plans. This sequence is riveting and full of dazzling action. It's a third act finale that the film builds up to and highly delivers on.
- The characters. What were a few reasons why we fell in love with Star Wars so much in the first place? Because we loved watching Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C3PO, and R2-D2 and their exciting adventures. We stood in complete awe of the villainous Darth Vader. They were all characters with qualities that still resonate today. This seems so contradictory for the Star Wars universe to have them present to us characters that feel one-dimensional and who spend half the film languishing about their past sufferings. It doesn't help when our main cyborg character, K2SO, is little more than comic relief (and he's not even that funny).
- The storytelling, and this is something that Star Wars just hasn't seemed to really do right since the end of the original trilogy. Our heroes travel from planet to planet, and we sit with a vague understanding as to why they are there in the first place, with the exception of Scarif, the planet where the Death Star plans are located. Jyn is a captive of the Galactic Empire before the Rebels rescue her, and it's never clear as to how she was captured and for how long. The plot is, for the most part, bumpy, especially in the beginning. If you've watched all the previous Star Wars beforehand, you know how it plays out in the end anyway.
Rogue One is abundant with nostalgia, but it seems convinced that the sight of all of its nostalgic pieces, such as classic Stormtroopers and Darth Vader, is enough to make you think that it's something greater than it actually is. Flimsy characters and a shaky plot stick out like a sore thumb, and the epic third act action sequence isn't enough to save the day. If these spin-offs are going to be major hits in the future, it'd be nice to have the filmmakers give a more convincing argument to go see them other than, "Because it's Star Wars."
Recommend? If you're an avid Star Wars fan, yes. Otherwise, no
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: