Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12a)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna & Alan Tudyk
Whoooa boy. Sure, The Force Awakens had the pressure of being the movie that brought Star Wars back to the world on the big screen, with the expectations of millions of fans behind it, but Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie ever to stray from the core Saga, the Skywalker story, so make no mistake – there’s a lot riding on this too.
A movie that Disney called ‘an experiment’, Rogue One certainly manages to feel like a Star Wars movie but also is something very, very different.
This is not a movie like any of the seven we’ve had before; it’s a low-down, dirty movie that really puts the war in Star Wars and it does it with a great deal of success.
The movie focuses on new Star Wars Character Jyn Erso (Jones) whose father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), has been missing from her life for over 15 years and it turns out has been developing a super weapon for the Empire, a planet-killer called the Death Star. When Galen apparently sends a message to the Rebellion warning them about the weapon, Jyn is called into service by the Rebellion to find her dad so they can, literally, save potentially every planet in the galaxy.
First off, Rogue One starts in a very different fashion to the other seven movies and it does throw you off slightly right out of the gates, but it soon establishes itself firmly in the universe we know and love and once the set up is established, we begin meeting the core characters in the movie – and it’s here that the movie stumbles as it suffers from oddly quick, jumpy editing that is new to this franchise and delivers the characters in a way that, while they are all interesting and likeable, never really allows us the chance to get to know anyone except Jyn.
But, on reflection, given the context of the movie, this may be deliberate – when you come out of The Force Awakens you know Rey, Finn, Kylo and the others but this movie doesn’t have that so much – after the movie everyone was talking about the performances but not their onscreen names and maybe it’s because in a war there’s less time for funny interactions and getting to know you – the race is on, the Rebellion is a lot of people and at all costs the job much be done.
And Rogue One delivers here in droves. Gareth Edwards, a confessed life-long fan, delivers almost everything you could want from a Star Wars movie – epic battles, Star Destroyers in atmosphere, epic land and space battles, sharp (often silly) dialogue and visuals that you just can’t possibly fully absorb on first viewing and leaving you knowing you have to go back to see it again… but for all that, the movie just feels, well, lacking.
And it’s hard to say exactly why; for a movie that has so much that you’ve wanted to see since you were a kid playing in the sandpit with your toy X-Wing and At-At it also feels lacking in character and coherent story telling, especially in the first act. We want to come out of a Star Wars movie loving the new characters, talking about the new Han, Luke, Rey, Finn, Leia but sadly, whether it has a legitimate reason or not, this is a big part of the reason it feels unlike what we love in the other movies.
It also features several fun throwbacks to the other movies – this movie goes a long way to tying all the mythology together, be it with characters, locations or knowing lines and it certainly causes many smiles in the audience so overall, despite its shortcomings, Rogue One is certainly overall a triumph.
However, there are a couple of characters from the original movies that appear and, while I don’t want to reveal too much, it seems that, despite the beginning of Ant-man, we aren’t that far on with digital effects yet – you’ll know what I mean when you see it.
Here’s the bottom line, Rogue One succeeds more than it fails and the good far outweighs the bad, especially if you’re a fan of the series, but it is deeply flawed, especially in the early scenes that will take you a while to get in to the flow, but once it lands, and especially by the mind-blowingly superb final act, you’ll be fully invested.
You may not recall every character’s name by the end, but don’t worry, it’s Star Wars and you’ll know them intimitely by the third time you see it on the big screen.
In the end, it sits exactly where it sits – better than the prequels and not as good as the original movies. And, let’s be honest, had we an rational right to expect anything else? No, exactly.
3 out of 5 Nerds