Weekly Review: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story (2016)

After losing her entire family to the Galactic Empire as a child, vengeful Jyn Erso joins the rebel forces in an attempt to steal the plans for the Empire’s new weapon, The Death Star.

After the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015, the Star Wars fandom began to anticipate more releases from the beloved storyline. Since Disney had acquired the rights to the franchise, it was inevitable that there was going to be a new trilogy, but there were some upcoming releases that were meant to be a bit more of a surprise.

The first of these releases was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, set for release in December 2016. The plot and title for this particular film was kept under wraps for a while, but as soon as details began to emerge, the anticipation reached new heights.

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One of the important things to note about Rogue One is that it is meant to be a single story, not an indicator of a new franchise with sequels and the like. Before seeing the film, I was a bit interested to see if they would forego that idea for a drawn out moneymaker. I’m glad to say that this isn’t the case. In the Star Wars timeline, Rogue One sits pretty neatly between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. Fans of the Star Wars saga will figure out a more exact placement as the film progresses.

Rogue One features a pretty great cast, including Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) as Jyn Erso and Diego Luna (Elysium) as Cassian Andor, a rebel spy. The film also features roles played by Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange), Forest Whitaker (Arrival), Donnie Yen (Ip Man), Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and the voice of Alan Tudyk (i, Robot).

In addition to the new actors added to the Star Wars universe, Rogue One also features many call backs to previous films, with actors either reprising their voice roles or by characters added through digital likeness. Some of these instances of digital likeness upset fans, but I thought they did a pretty decent job with it, all things considered.

Overall, I really liked the story that Rogue One set out to tell. I thought the acting was done well. The action sequences were good. I liked how it tied in with the other films. I definitely had things that I didn’t like with Rogue One, but in the end, I really enjoyed the film.

Personally, I felt that Rogue One was trying too hard to be funny. The subject matter was pretty dark in the broad scheme of things, so I can understand why producers felt the comedy was necessary, but there were just too many moments where I rolled my eyes at the attempt. On that same note, the droid K-2S0 seemed moderately out of place for the universe. The story attempted to explain its unique nature with reprogramming, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it didn’t belong. As a character alone, K-2S0 is great. It’s a very likable character. It was just the source of many of my eye roll moments.

I felt that many of the characters could have been fleshed out more. I had a friend ask me recently if I preferred Rogue One or The Force Awakens. I couldn’t give him a simple answer. Due to the overall nature of Rogue One‘s story, there just wasn’t a lot of time for me, as a viewer, to get to know them and like them. I felt that The Force Awakens was stronger on the likable character front. I would definitely say Rogue One has the better story though, simply because it attempts to show something new rather than sticking with the same formula.

Despite whatever complaints that I had throughout Rogue One, I was completely sold by the ending. The last hour of the film, as everything starts falling into place, is fantastic. The ending is somber and powerful, and brings a whole new meaning to the events that occur in Star Wars: Episode IV. It just comes together so well, that it instantly fits into the timeline, no questions asked.

If you are familiar with the Star Wars storyline, I would definitely recommend Rogue One. There’s a ton of fan service involved in it that makes it really enjoyable. If you’re not as big of a fan, some of those easter eggs will go over your head, but it doesn’t necessarily affect the end game. Rogue One is a solid story of rebels fighting against a terroristic regime, struggling to save life as they know it, fighting for something far bigger than themselves. When the movie ended, I was in awe. It just clicked.

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