Rogue One: a Star Wars story (Movie, 2016)
Science Fiction | Galactic War
Starring: Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe), Wen Jiang (Baze Malbus)
Blurb: “The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.”
pooled ink Review:
Has enough time passed that most of you have seen this movie? Well I’m going to write about it anyway. Depending on how connected you are via Internet/social media to people who have already seen this movie then some of these things aren’t spoilers because everyone talked about them. But just to be safe, I am warning you NOW that this review is for people who have already seen the movie or for those who don’t care about having the movie spoiled for them. I mean, even if you do read this and then go see the movie it will still be awesome, just maybe a bit less surprising.
To start off I’ll just say that I definitely feel that this movie is more for those invested in the canon than just a random newbie waltzing into the theater. That being said I’m convinced that no matter where you stand on the Star Wars fan scale (well, between ‘moderately enjoy’ to ‘exploding fangirl/boy’) you can enjoy this movie.
If you’re an actual fan of the Star Wars films, and even if you’re one of those stubborn crusty fans who only like the original movies (4-6) then you still might like Rogue One. Just to clarify: Rogue One is a stand-alone film that takes place between Episodes III and IV. I’ll be completely honest and say that I was skeptical about Disney making these spin-off films but I’m completely onboard with this one. Rogue One can be watched as a total stand-alone film. Sure if you’ve seen the rest of the Star Wars series you’ll probably get more out of this one but what’s nice is that you don’t necessarily have to.
Although that being said if you have seen the other Star Wars films then you might be more inclined to praise Rogue One as opposed to a picky outsider. When I first stepped out of the theater I was energized and excited about what I just saw but I saw it a second time and when the buzz dimmed a little and I really thought about it, the plot is perhaps just a bit thin. To an insider this movie fills in lots of blanks within the Star Wars film series, it ties in new with old, it brings “back” beloved characters, and it’s just more of the epic Star Wars that we know and love. To an outsider though they might leave with a few questions and see through the Star Wars awesomeness to the somewhat predictable, typical, action-oriented plot. (Omg don’t smite me please, I still love it. Even as I typed those words I wanted to delete them and believe that some dark Jedi put those words in my mind because this movie impressed me so much)
Well…I’m a Star Wars fan so I don’t care haha I enjoyed this movie and so that’s that.
To start from the beginning: At first the different theme music threw me off. Like many, I’m sure, I sat there ready to mentally hum along to the Star Wars theme music but Rogue One decided to choose its own tune (it also decided to forgo the famous scrolling prologue). I’ve talked to friends about this and we’re split on how we feel. The little Star Wars nerd inside me wanted the original Star Wars theme music but really I don’t care that much. Actually I’m okay with the music being different because a) it wasn’t that estranged from the original theme (you can pick out the key and similar chords, etc.) and b) this isn’t part of the main Star Wars series, remember it’s a spin-off and a spin-off movie should probably have a spin-off theme tune.
More importantly I’d like to mention the overall visual of the film. I felt that they did a very good job with keeping the aesthetic of Episode IV while also improving it technically. It wasn’t as jarring a difference visually as it was to go from Episode VI to Episode I. Costuming was excellent, the set and props were completely on-point, and the entire vibe of the film called up the nostalgia of the original trilogy. We got what we loved about the original films aesthetically but with better quality.
Now let’s talk about all the CG in this film that people keep talking about. Specifically I mean Tarkin and Leia. To be honest (and this also seems to be a very split opinion amongst those I’ve discussed this with) I could have done without Leia. Maybe. I’m still not sure how I feel. I mean the CG is very impressive technically, but it’s still not quite…human. Story-wise I do like her being there as a final tie-in to Episode IV but I’d almost rather they found a look-alike actress to play the very small one-line role or found a similar actress to Carrie Fisher (RIP you fabulous woman) and CG her face like they did with Tarkin or… I dunno…I just wasn’t quite sold on it.
Tarkin was also impressive CG but he still wasn’t human enough. Although I am okay with it because I believe that he totally had to be in this film. So if CG was the only option then CG it is.
Onto maybe my favorite part in the entire film: Darth Vader’s showdown against the Rebels. Well, it wasn’t much of a showdown seeing as those poor souls had almost no chance against Vader. But oh my word that scene was so epic, so pumped full of adrenaline, terror, desperation, awe, panic, and hope. We know the Rebellion received the plans for the Death Star because that’s part of Episode IV but even so, to watch them fleeing for their lives on a failing ship boarded by Darth Vader was incredibly intense.
It begins with some nameless rebel waiting for the plans to download even though alarms are going off about the enemy taking over their ship. The moment it finishes the rebel runs towards the escape pods or whatever but gets stuck with his comrades when a door jams and won’t open wide enough to let them through. Shouting for help to no avail, as the people on the other side are too busy running for their own lives, suddenly behind them in the darkness a red lightsaber ignites and there stands none other than Lord Vader. The journey that little disk with the secret Death Star plans takes is incredible. I mean, we just witnessed a whole movie full of bloodshed and sacrifice just to steal the plans in the first place and now when there are only seconds to spare before all those sacrifices become for nothing??? I’m getting chills just thinking about this scene! Hands down my favorite part of the film.
Major (?) spoiler alert! Everyone dies. I’m surprisingly cool with everyone dying. It’s very war film. And that’s what Rogue One is, a war film. Not only was everyone dying a theatrically perfect ending for this film, it was basically the only ending for this film. If you actually stopped to think on it you’d probably realize that they had to die seeing as none of them show up in Episode IV. Sure, they could have survived and become more obscure less talked about fighters for the Rebellion who never intersect with Luke Skywalker, but that’s a really thin and naively hopeful theory.
Like I said, this was a war film. You’re presented with the big players (Rebels versus the Empire), smaller rebel groups, extremists, blurred lines, Catch-22 situations, death, sacrifice, grit, hope, assassinations, and missions for “the cause.” The fact is people die in war and that is presented quite clearly in this movie. But even so, as Leia so simply reminds us, there is hope.
Oh, quick shout-out to Chirrut Îmwe! He may not technically be a Jedi but he’s as one with the Force as they come. He definitely hails as one of my favorite characters in this movie and as a strong, important character contribution to the main group. The whole Rogue One team is rather perfect.
Overall I really enjoyed Rogue One. I think I like it a bit more than Episode VII (maybe just because while Rey is beyond awesome, Adam Driver looks and just is completely wrong for Kylo Ren (sorry dude) but this was definitely an excellent film that I completely enjoyed and look forward to watching a third time, a fourth time, etcetera etcetera.
P.S. I hope I didn’t ruin this film for you (but I did warn you) and I hope that if you haven’t seen it yet that you will soon! Also if you’re not a Star Wars fan then you should probably re-evaluate your life 😉 I’d recommend watching the movies in this order: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3…wait…episode 7 and R.O. totally throw this off now! Maybe with Rogue One as a bridge (aesthetically and story-wise) you could watch them 1, 2, 3, Rogue One, 4, 5, 6, 7. I dunno, haha whatever, just watch them. Usually it’s a bit jarring to watch the films in order because the film technology suddenly goes from 2000s CG to 1970s puppets but maybe with Rogue One it’ll help smooth the transition a bit.
My review of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
My review for the novelization of Rogue One