Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic that writes about movies in his spare time.
8.5 / 10
- Great sound effects.
- Cinematography was spot on for the most part. Some viewers might be turned off by the dark filtered lens they used, to help set the ominous tone for the film. However, it works for the story.
- Using some of the unused footage, from the original "Star Wars" film, was a stroke of genius, and a nice call back.
- Script was great.
- Jokes were funny.
- Action scenes were well choreographed.
- Visual effects were good.
- Direction for the most part was solid.
- Jyn's arc from not being interested in the rebellion's cause to suddenly wanting to help them feels a bit rushed.
- Jyn and Cassian's personalities were too bland, which makes them arguably the most forgettable characters in the film.
- Musical scoring was underwhelming. Although they only had a month to put it together, it's worth pointing out because you'd typically expect a great musical scoring from the "Star Wars" franchise.
- Some of the death scenes were a bit too cartoonishly exaggerated for dramatic effect.
- While not technically a flaw if you've been following the movies closely, it still might confuse a lot of people considering the movie runs off the assumption that anyone who watches it will immediately be able to figure out what's going on.
Rebellions Are Built on Hope
While "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" may not be your conventional "Star Wars" film, it certainly does the franchise justice. Set in between "Star Wars: Episode III- The Revenge of the Sith" and "Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope", as this story is sort of a in between prequel. Set up as a story that supposedly explains how the rebel alliance were able to attain the plans to the death star, so Luke Skywalker (played by a young Mark Hamill) could destroy it later on using the force.
It's not exactly a story that mainstream audiences were demanding to be made, but it's a welcomed surprise to the "Star Wars" universe. The story follows a young girl by the name of Jyn (played by the lovely Felicity Jones), who happens to be the daughter of the man that's in charge of designing the death star itself. Through a series of events, she somehow gets recruited into the rebel alliance, in the hopes of reaching her father.
What starts off as a simple routine operation soon gets complicated. Unknowingly to Jyn, the rebels that escort her to her father were assigned to kill him. However, when the empire kills him instead, plans quickly changed. Somehow, they find out that there was an intentional weakness in the death star itself, which her father purposely neglected to warn the empire about. Upon discovering this revelation, a small fraction of the rebel troops join forces on a suicide mission to steal the plans for the death star, so the galaxy can have a small hope of surviving the empire's reign of tyranny.
Unlike the other prequels to this franchise, not only does "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" stay true to the heart and spirit of the worn in feel of the universe that "Star Wars" inhabited, but it keeps the focus more on the characters rather than the visual aspects of it. Granted, you still get some fairly impressive visuals like the epic space fight scenes, and Darth Vader kicking rebel a**es handily. However, the visuals are used merely as tools to help enhance the story, while keeping the focus purely on the characters themselves.
Granted, that doesn't mean the characterization, and writing, was perfect by any means, as there were some flaws too. For instance. Jyn's position from not wanting to be part of the rebellion to suddenly believing in it's cause felt a bit rushed. The character's personalities seem fairly generic for the most part. And by that, I mean they hardly seemed that interesting. Sure, they each had their moments. However, the thing is their personalities didn't seem to leave much of an impression, nor did their personalities complimented each other to make any of them memorable.
For example. In the original trilogy, part of the reason why it was such a huge success was because of how diverse the characters were, in terms of their personalities, and how well they meshed together. Luke Skywalker was essentially the wide eyed optimist, who yearned for a life of adventure and excitement. Han Solo was the "straight man" character, who was down to Earth, greedy, a bit of a smart a**, and sometimes self absorbed. Princess Leia was sweet and kind, yet she was also brave and cunning. These characters all had their own unique diverse personalities that bounced off each other nicely. And because their personalities complimented each other so well, you couldn't help but remember them.
Here, you can't really say that about them, which makes the two main characters a bit forgettable. Now, that's not to say that "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is bad, nor would I say that I didn't care about any of those characters, as I did. However, they just didn't leave that big of an impression on me.
In fact, K2S0 probably had the most personality out of all the characters, and he was merely the comic relief. Granted, Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) had their moments as well. However, it's the two main characters, Jyn and Cassian, that I had the most issues with. Their personalities were so bland, and underwhelming, that I honestly didn't feel for them as much I did the supporting characters.
Plus, the musical scoring was lackluster at best. It's been reported, by various sources, that supposedly the scoring for this film was done at the last minute, and it definitely shows. While the musical scoring wasn't bad, it certainly wasn't great either. Usually when you think of a "Star Wars" film, you usually expect a grand opus of musical orchestra in the background; hence making the film itself feel like an event. Sadly, most of the musical scoring is not only underwhelming half the time, but some of it is remixes of some of John Williams' work that only makes you wish he would've scored this one instead. Granted, it doesn't ruin the movie, but leaves a lot to be desired.
Apart from those minor nitpicks though, the majority of the movie is worth watching. It's everything you'd expect out of "Star Wars" film, and it gives you elements that you never would've expected. For starters, we finally see a story set in this universe that doesn't involve the Jedi, nor anything to do with the Skywalker family. It helps expand the lore of the franchise, and it shows a positive sign moving forward with some of these spin off films.
The action sequences were great, and there were a lot of great fan service and call backs to the original films. In fact, there's a scene, where we finally see how intimidating Darth Vader was at his peak, which makes for great entertainment. Gareth Edwards even uses some of the old unused footage, from "Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope.", to integrate into the final space battle scenes. It's edited rather seamlessly into the film itself, and it's a nice call back the original film.
Of course, another major problem is that it's unkind to the uninitiated. Unlike the previous live action films where it shows you a long text explaining what's going on, this one doesn't have that. After it says "A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy Far Far Away", it immediately jumps into the movie. You don't get anything beyond that, which means if you don't follow any movie news, or someone who only watches these films casually, then chances are you're probably going to be confused as to what's going on.
However, if you're a die hard fan of this franchise, then chances are you're going to love this movie. It has almost everything you could ask for out of a "Star Wars" film. It has action. It has humor. It has adventure. Granted, it has it's flaws, and it's predictable. But if you're yearning to see something different out of the "Star Wars" franchise, then it's worth checking out.
© 2016 Steven Escareno
Scribbling Geek from Singapore on December 27, 2016:
I thought Saw was very unevenly projected too. You don't really feel the extremist side of him, and like Jyn, he seemed to suddenly have a change of heart.
Otherwise, Rogue One is great. It's also great overall. Better than the prequels and Force in my opinion.