There are certain films that moviegoers are pretty sensitive about when it comes to hearing reviews. For most movies, they want a real critique of the work and the final grade. But when it comes to classics, they seek and listen with a filter on; and I totally appreciate that – as a fan of the Star Wars films myself.
The question from moviegoers, now that they know Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has opened in theaters, is going to be pretty simple. Delivered with squinting eyes and ears not fully tuned into the frequency of your voice, they will question – “Is the Rogue One movie any good”?
The simple answer to that inquiry is, “yes”. If you’re a “die-hard” fan, you should walk away feeling somewhat satisfied. It’s not bad – but I wouldn’t say they’ve tapped into anything new or mind-blowing.
Since it is a stand-alone film, it’s hard to write about it without giving away the entire plot. I might want to say that again (since it dawned on me at the end of the film) – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a single film. In fact, it’s kinda-sorta a prequel to the original Star Wars, even though it’s not billed that way. In other words, when Rogue One ends, you’ll already know what happens next.
Explaining what Rogue One is about to fans of the story, can be a bit tricky. The easiest explanation, is to say that the filmmakers pulled back the camera on the characters and story behind the original movie (Episode IV – A New Hope) and captured the lives and happenings of those “in the fight” at the same time, but who were not part of that famous group of heroes we’ve all come to know and love.
Think of the heroes of the Battle Of The Bulge in WWII – now imagine a side story of the heroic actions of a group of military men, who put their lives on the line to deliver the much-needed ammunition, without which they could have never won the fight.
The synopsis released by Walt Disney Pictures for the film says it this way (with my inserted text), “In a time of conflict (Episode IV Original Stars Wars), a group of unlikely heroes (The new characters of Rogue One) band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star (there’s the plot), the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event (without this Luke & the gang would have probably failed and been killed) in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves“.
Cinematically the movie feels very similar to the original trilogy. This is cool, in that it comes off as a true sibling within both the timeline of the story and the aesthetics of the original films; and yet feels a bit hokey at the same time. When you go back and watch Star Wars “A New Hope”, you have to admit the aliens are a bit, “muppetish”. This is where die-hard fans keep quiet and just accept it as being part of the “charm”. Well, that “charm” is present with the space creatures in Rogue One as well.
The second item gets both a thumbs up and a thumbs down. Two famous characters from the original film are present in A Star Wars Story – one being Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, who was played by legendary actor Peter Cushing and another that I’ll keep quiet on. Since the story backs up and surrounds the Death Star, Tarkin’s presence was a must. How did they do it, considering Cushing passed away? With the magic of CGI.
Despite what others may say, I was overly impressed with this part of the movie magic in Rogue One. Tarkin’s time in front of the camera happens several times and with some lengthy dialogue. Unless you look for it, it is quite believable – bringing even more of the essence of the 1977 original into this new venture. The second individual does not have the same feel even though the same “magic” is used – at all.
Do expect to both see and enjoy the presence of Darth Vader. You really couldn’t write a stand-alone and not include our favorite bad guy.
The acting in the Gareth Edwards directed film, is quite good. The job done by Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, should be pleasing to fans – the 33-year-old English actress pulls off a believable role as an initially, unwilling rebel fighter-turned hero. Her co-star and companion rebel Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna – is also well done.
Aussie born actor, Ben Mendelsohn as the power hungry Director of Advanced Weapons Research, Orson Krennic, has to get the highest marks – for owning his part. Besides his role, we loved seeing our favorite James Bond villain, actor Mads Mikkelsen, playing a key role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera gets our lowest marks. Some of that has to do with a bit of over-acting. Some with casting a to familiar a face in a spin-off and the rest to the sad fact that things move along a bit too fast and scattered, to really get a grip on who his character is.
Now back to the original question – “Is the Rogue One movie any good?”
As a fan, I walked away happy and yes I applauded with the rest of the crowd present. Was it a BIG deal? No, not really.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is something new in a universe that fans love. Which is fun to keep around and re-visit from time to time.
I just hope that the repeated visits, don’t start to feel like I’m being taken advantage of.
My Verdict: This franchise is too big (and important to many fans) to trust to anyone but yourself. Go see it and tell us what you think.