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.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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 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. Thus, Galen went off with The Empire to build their weapon.
Fifteen years after being forced to design the Death Star for the Empire, 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 be the key to finding a weakness in the Death Star's design, if one exists. Their mission is one that could save countless lives across the galaxy, but it may cost them their own, as the Empire will not so easily allow the plans to their super-weapon to fall into the hands of the Rebellion.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Slow Start (-3pts)
The Team (+6pts)
Darth Vader & A New Hope (+6pts)
Park Closer & CGI Faces (-2pts)
Pro: War (+10pts)
As promised, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story delivers a war movie set in the Star Wars universe, and it was awesome! By not following Jedi or Jedi in training, we see familiar baddies such as storm troopers and Imperial vehicles but we see them in 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 mixed with a World War II movie, then combined with Star Wars, through seeing all of the vehicles and resources that The Empire had to offer. The team of protagonists face 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 delivered Star Wars action that felt grittier and more realistic than ever before.
Con: Slow Start (-3pts)
After the intro scene, the movie is slow and kind of choppy for about twenty to twenty-five minutes, if I had to guess. It sets up three or four different characters and cuts 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 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, and just implied those introductions. 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 gets going, it more than made up for the somewhat sloppy start.
Pro: The Team (+6pts)
I loved the team established in this movie. I thought all the actors did great, and I loved the almost Magnificent Seven style of this group. What I mean by that is that the group was comprised of a rag-tag assortment of characters, with 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 is blind and, although he believes in the force religiously, he is no Jedi. He delivered some great comedic moments, along with some epic action sequences. He cannot see with his eyes, but he can see with the force, and 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 has no concept of sarcasm, and throws out facts in an obliviously blunt way. K-2SO also is not a droid that is afraid of getting his hands dirty, as he is not one to shy away from action. K-2SO has some great comedic lines, and awesome action sequences, making him an entertaining character, whenever he was on screen.
Con: Predictable (-3pts)
It was really easy to predict where this story was going. This is especially true, if you have seen Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, which most people watching this movie will have already seen. We know whether or not the group succeeds in getting the plans to The Death Star, but the predictability of this movie went even further than that. We also know which of these characters appear in movies that take place after this one, and seeing as how important this group is to the Rebellion, we know that it would make no sense for any surviving members of the group not to appear in later movies. Thus, it is pretty easy to predict which of these characters would survive. The movie was predictable in a lot of ways, but I thought the filmmakers did a pretty good job at overcoming that, through delivering this movie's strengths.
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 is 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 be wasting a huge opportunity, if they gave him too little screen time. At the same time, however, giving Darth Vader too much focus would have distracted from the gritty, war-like vibe that this movie was going for, as there would be no way for the protagonists to be able to overcome the incredibly powerful Sith Lord.
I was relieved to see that the filmmakers used this character perfectly. They kept teasing this character, which made him have 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 film's conclusion, which led right into the events of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. The scene was an absolutely incredible Darth Vader sequence that showed just how ruthless, powerful, and dangerous this character is. I do not want to give this scene away if you have not seen it, but it is the most memorable part of this movie to me, and I honestly think the movie is 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 deliver an amazing action sequence involving the iconic character.
Con: Park Closer & CGI Faces (-2pts)
Okay, this was a very minor issue, but after I thought about it, I could not refrain from commenting on it during this review. Anyway, during the intro scene of the movie, Orson Krennic's (Ben Mendelsohn) shuttle lands on a planet in an extremely large, flat, wide-open area. Him and his troopers then proceed 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 thinks he looks really cool when walking in formation with his troops. Whichever of these are true, I could not help but laugh at this scene and had to make note of it here.
Then there are characters in this movie for which the CGI de-aging technology was used, and while I think this technology looked better than it ever had before, I still think it looked too awkward and too fake. In my opinion, any studio should avoid using this method until it is perfected. Do not get me wrong, what they did was a technical achievement, but the technology does not quite have the realism that these characters needed. While it may have looked great for its time, the CGI in this movie will only look worse as time goes on. Luckily the number of scenes in which this technology was used was fairly small, so it did not hurt the movie much. I just think the filmmakers should have avoided using this technology, or should have utilized lighting that hid the flaws of this CGI.
Grade: B+ (89pts)
While it took a little while for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to get going, once it did, it was an absolute joyride. 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 watch. 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 can 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. Although, the movie was fairly predictable, and it had a bit of a choppy start, the filmmakers were more than able to make up for these minor issues. I really enjoyed this movie, and highly recommend it to any fan of Star Wars, or anyone who enjoys a decent war movie.
Best of the Star Wars Franchise
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace