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Movie Review: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 12/16/2016

Theatrical Release: 12/16/2016

Synopsis

Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is a runaway architect for the Empire. The Empire wanted him to design a super-weapon that would become known as the Death Star. Galen, however, just wanted to live a life of peace and to raise his young daughter Jyn. He certainly did not want to create a super-weapon that would be responsible for so much death and destruction across the galaxy. Unfortunately, the Empire found him and threatened his family if he did not cooperate. Galen clearly had no choice, so he went off with the Empire to build them their weapon.

Fifteen years later, the now grown Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) joins a team of rebels tasked with finding her father and stealing the plans to the Death Star. The rebels know that the Death Star will bring an incredible amount of fear, death, and destruction, and obtaining the plans will likely be the key to finding a weakness in the Death Star's design, if one even exists. Their mission is one that could save countless lives across the galaxy, but it may cost them their own, as the Empire will have the plans to their super-weapon heavily protected, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Rebellion.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

War (+10pts)

Slow Start (-3pts)

The Team (+6pts)

Predictable (-3pts)

Darth Vader & A New Hope (+6pts)

Park Closer & CGI Faces (-2pts)

movie-review-rogue-one-star-wars-story

Pro: War (+10pts)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was an actual war movie set in the Star Wars universe, and it was awesome! By not following Jedi or Jedi in training, we saw familiar baddies such as storm troopers and Imperial vehicles but we saw them with a new and more threatening perspective. The action felt raw, it felt gritty, and the threat felt very real. This made the world feel lived in, and it made the stakes feel significant.

Then it came to the actual warfare, which felt very much like a war movie. The odds felt insurmountable, it felt like main characters could die at any second, and the blaster fire felt more dangerous than it has ever felt in a Star Wars movie before. The movie was like Magnificent Seven combined with a World War II movie, then mixed together with plenty of Star Wars flavor. The team of protagonists faced Storm Troopers, T.I.E. Fighters, AT-ATs, AT-STs, and so much more. The movie was a very unique look at a now familiar universe. It put the "War" in "Star Wars", and it delivered Star Wars action that felt grittier and more realistic than ever before.

movie-review-rogue-one-star-wars-story

Con: Slow Start (-3pts)

After the intro scene, the movie was slow and kind of choppy for about twenty to twenty-five minutes. It set up three or four different characters and it cut to and from these setup scenes in a kind of jarring and sloppy manner. I get that each character needed to be introduced, but there had to be a better way to do it. It just felt like the filmmakers knew they had to introduce a bunch of characters, but they did not have a way to do so naturally.

They could have introduced a couple of characters at a time. They also could have left the actual introduction of one or two of the less important characters out of the movie. There were a number of ways that the filmmakers could have set these characters up better than the way they did. Instead, they went with cutting back and forth between different characters' introductions, making the movie feel like it took a little too long to get going, and it made the beginning of the movie feel choppy. That being said, once the movie got going, it more than made up for the somewhat sloppy start.

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Pro: The Team (+6pts)

I loved the team of protagonists in this movie. I thought the actors all did great, and I loved the almost Magnificent Seven style of this group. The group was comprised of a rag-tag assortment of characters, each having their own specialties. Each character had their time to shine, and I really bought that they were each willing to risk their lives for the Rebellion. Although I enjoyed the entire group of protagonists, the notable standouts were Donnie Yen's character, Chirrut Imwe, and Alan Tudik's character, K-2SO.

Donnie Yen's character was blind, and although he believed in the force religiously, he was no Jedi. He delivered some great comedic moments, along with some epic action sequences. He could not see with his eyes, but he could see with the force, and he was simply a great character who Donnie Yen played convincingly. Then there was K-2SO, who was an absolute blast, whenever he was on screen. The character had no concept of sarcasm, and he threw out facts in an obliviously blunt way. K-2SO also was not a droid to shy away from action. Like Chirrut Imwe, K-2SO had some great comedic lines, and some awesome action sequences, making him another entertaining character.

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Con: Predictable (-3pts)

It was really easy to predict where this story was going. This was especially true, for those who have seen Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which would be most people watching this movie. We knew whether or not the group would succeed in getting the plans to the Death Star, but the predictability of this movie went even further than that. We also knew which of these characters appeared in movies that took place after this one, and seeing as how important this group was to the Rebellion, we knew that it would make no sense for any surviving members of the group not to appear in later movies. Thus, it was pretty easy to predict which of these characters would survive. I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job of overcoming this issue, but the movie was still predictable.

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Pro: Darth Vader & A New Hope (+6pts)

One of my biggest concerns going into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was that Darth Vader would be used too little, or that he would be used too heavily. This was a unique opportunity to go back and see Darth Vader in action, at his prime, and voiced by the great James Earl Jones. Thus, the filmmakers would have wasted a huge opportunity if they gave him too little screen time. At the same time, however, giving Darth Vader too much focus would have have made no sense, as there would be no way for the protagonists to overcome the incredibly powerful Sith Lord, if he was more involved in the events of this story.

I was relieved to see that the filmmakers used this character perfectly. They kept teasing us with his presence, making him a looming presence over the events of the movie, but they did so without having him directly involved in the protagonists' story. Then there was the movie’s conclusion, which led right into the events of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. This scene was an absolutely epic Darth Vader sequence that showed just how ruthless, powerful, and dangerous this character was. I do not want to give this scene away if you have not seen it, but it was the most memorable part of this movie to me, and I honestly think the movie was worth watching just for this scene alone. If you are hoping for a decent taste of Darth Vader in this movie, know that they use him sparingly, but also know that they delivered an amazing action sequence that will satisfy any fans of the iconic character.

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Con: Park Closer & CGI Faces (-2pts)

During the first scene of the movie, Orson Krennic's (Ben Mendelsohn) shuttle landed on a planet in an extremely large, flat, wide-open area. Him and his troopers then proceeded to walk an incredible distance to their target. Maybe Krennic just wanted to stretch his legs, maybe he was trying to reach his daily 10,000 steps, or maybe he thought he looked really cool when walking in formation with his troops. Regardless, the walk was long, it was illogical, and it was so ridiculous that I could not help but laugh at the scene—clearly not the reaction the filmmakers were going for.

Then there were characters in this movie for which the CGI de-aging technology was used, and while I thought this technology looked better than it ever had before, I still thought it looked too awkward and too fake to have been put in the movie. Do not get me wrong, what they did was excellent CGI for its time, but the technology was not quite where it needed to be to show the younger versions of these characters convincingly. While it may have looked great for its time, the CGI in this movie will only look worse as time goes on. Luckily, these characters were not in the movie much, so it did not have much of an impact on my enjoyment of the movie.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-rogue-one-star-wars-story

Grade: B+ (89pts)

While it took a little while for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to get going, once it did, it was pretty great. It had plenty of laughs and a ton of great, intense action. Being set in the Star Wars universe just felt like icing on the cake here. This was an action filled war movie, and it was a really good one.

It was a story about a rag-tag group of rebels on an incredibly important mission that could save countless lives across the galaxy. The team had their compelling storylines, and they had their comedic chemistry, which together made them an entertaining team to follow. We got to see them going up against everything that the Empire could throw at them, and that brought along with it plenty of gritty action that showcased just how brutal war could be in the Star Wars universe. The filmmakers even did a fantastic job using Darth Vader in moderation, while also delivering a truly epic scene involving the iconic character. The movie was fairly predictable, and it had a bit of a choppy start, but the filmmakers were more than able to make up for these relatively minor issues. I really enjoyed this movie, and I highly recommend it to any fan of Star Wars, or even anyone who enjoys a decent war movie.

Best of the Star Wars Franchise

RankMoviePoints

1

Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

95pts

2

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

93pts

3

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

92pts

4

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

90pts

5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

89pts

6

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

87pts

7

Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker

86pts

8

Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

83pts

9

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

79pts

10

Solo: A Star Wars Story

78pts

11

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

77pts

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