Rogue One is a spin-off anthology film set in the Star Wars Universe. The film depicts the events that led up to the beginning of A New Hope, showing how the Rebellion acquired the Death Star plans. The film focuses on the team of rebels as they try to acquire the plans, and primarily follows Jyn Erso, a convicted criminal who is recruited by the Rebellion. I don’t really know what else to say about it without spoiling it, but despite the fact that the film goes all over the galaxy to new and unique planets, it feels like more of a small scale adventure than the other films. I found the film to be very enjoyable with engaging characters. The film stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelson, Forrest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelson, as is directed by Gareth Edwards.
This film shows a galaxy at war in a way that hasn’t really been shown before in a Star Wars film. You see the effects of imperial occupation on a planet, and you get a sense of how difficult it is for the Rebellion to fight against this dominating empire. You see a darker side to the Rebellion, as they feel they can’t trust anyone and take extreme measures to remain secret from the empire. This film works as a good companion piece to the original trilogy as it shows how the Empire negatively affects normal people’s lives in the galaxy, which you didn’t see much in the original trilogy, and so you understand more about the rebellions motives. The action set pieces in the film are incredible to watch, especially the ‘boots on the ground’ battle scene in the final act. It is like nothing I’ve seen in Star Wars before, it’s gritty and realistic and feels like it would fit into a war film; it’s not two faceless CGI armies shooting at each other with no real stakes, but instead its people that feel real in a horrible situation. Speaking of CGI, the effects used in this film are flawless. The way it’s integrated into the action is just right, as it doesn’t look out of place, and the space battle scenes look incredible and are very exciting. The plot is simple but effective, and connects very well to the other films, there aren’t any contradictions that I’ve spotted and it actually answers some criticisms made to the original films. The final act is especially well done and the way everything ties together is engaging if not a bit predictable.
As for the characters, the stand outs were Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) and Chirrut (Donnie Yen). K-2SO was the comedic highlight of the film. He was probably my favourite character, as whenever he was on screen he stole the show. Chirrut was both interesting and a total badass. He stole the show whenever he was in combat, and he added a new perspective to The Force that was very interesting. Finally, Jyn Erso’s character is a strong lead and is definitely given the most backstory and arc of all the characters.
My problems with the film mostly come in the first act, as it is kind of sloppy and full of set up. Within the first 10 minutes it jumped between loads of planets and introduced most of the characters, so it felt very rushed. Most of the side characters weren’t given much of an introduction or backstory at all, I struggled to remember most of their names, and it wasn’t until the middle of the film that I felt connected to them. I did eventually feel invested in them, but it wasn’t till about half-way through, but while the beginning of the film was a bit worrying by the middle I was engaged and by the end I was blown away. I also had some problems with some of the throw backs to the other films. A lot of the smaller nods I liked and found funny and subtle enough to not be distracting, but others stood out a bit too much in ways I won’t spoil, and there is a returning character done using motion capture that appears and I found his presence very distracting. I understand why he had to be there, but he didn’t need as much screen time as he got.
Overall, while I had issues with its opening, I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One. It was exciting and gritty with some likeable characters. The final act is one of the best from a blockbuster I’ve seen in the last few years. While I am still sceptical of the planned Star Wars anthology films, I believe this film is a great companion piece to the Star Wars series, and a must see because of how it expands the war between the rebellion and the empire.
P.S I went to the midnight showing of this, it’s the first time I’ve done that and it was a lot of fun. If you’ve seen the trailers for this you’ll know they advertised Darth Vader being in it, just don’t get your hopes up because he’s not in it much, he does have an awesome moment though.