Rogue One, without getting too spoilery- I really loved the score, and the overall dark vibe. The missing opening crawl was something I wouldn’t really have chosen personally, but it sets a tone, and I think the movie stays consistent with that tone. I really liked the way the characters were portrayed, and how certain characters were brought back. The big “final fight” sequence seemed to be right up the alley for the composer as well, since the setting is a beach fight and the composer worked on Lost (which is still a show I really, REALLY like- and I wish I had the time to do my Lost: Retrospective podcast with my wife… I think that would be SO fun!). all the planets looked really vibrant and well flushed out. The look of the fallen Jedi statues with the planet that was once a Jedi Temple was another really nice, dark touch to the movie, showing that even though things have changed and there are new powers in play, you cannot entirely erase the past, and you cannot forget the Jedi.
The main cast were very dynamic, and having a female lead works really well for this movie. The fighting was frantic and epic, and an utter melee. The more talkative moments were packed with stuff, and there wasn’t a whole lot to really tie this movie to being Star Wars short for a few scenes that feature prominent characters from someplace within the timeline of the films that act as Rogue One’s buffer.
The fan service was good, subtle but easily defined. It popped up, made a brief smile flash across my face, I would nudge my wife’s arm slightly, and we would move on. This happened quite a few times MORE than I expected, I will say that much. There wasnt a TON of humorous moments for the film, mostly just nods and small moments, human moments and interactions that make even the most dire situations even the least bit brighter, which I appreciated.
I really liked the tone of the film, the character’s personalities were really well fitting for this story as well. The breakout star, in my opinion, was K2SO, the droid voiced by Alan Tudyk. His dry wit and expertly inserted pauses in his dialogue just really help to punctuate the scenes and specifically his lines, to make them that much more memorable- not unlike the gold plated protocol droid that made his way into our hearts and minds with his curmudgeonly ways and his need to voice the odds in any given situation.
Saw Gerrera was another great piece to the Rogue One puzzle, and I really hope we get more from his past than the stuff we (apparently. I didn’t watch much of the Clone Wars series) got from him. I would love a Saw origin film, and I think that there could and would be a lot of parallels to another certain Star Wars character who he seemed to roughly be the antithesis of.
Now, into the spoiler-y part of the review...
**SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS**
I thought that Jyn's origin story was a bit thin, and the whole part about Galen leaving the Empire's Science Corps to become a farmer was a bit TOO much of a nod towards the moisture farmers of Owen and Beru Lars, the adoptive parents of one Luke Skywalker. It wasn't a terrible thing, and like I said before, I don't think any of the subtle nods, cameos or anything like that really took away from the film, I just would have liked to see him running a junk shop, or working as a pod racer mechanic, something that actually utilized his skills and provided for his family, not just gave them a remote location to live in in the HOPE that nobody would come looking for a farmer with a wife and daughter who just dropped out of the sky one day (I would imagine that kind of story would be MUCH less obvious in a bigger city on a more centrally located planet- y'know, "hiding in plain sight"?)
I liked that Cassian was basically unlikeable at first, but that through his actions as a "reluctant rebel" much like a scruffy-looking Nerf herder we all know and love, he did his level best to endear himself to us before the end. Chirrut and Baze are a pair of HIGHLY OUTSTANDING characters, people I was unsure if I could really like when they first appeared on screen, but who in short order, made themselves indispensable to the ragtag group of rebels.
Krennic was a character that I didn't expect much of in this film- he seemed to play the role of a petty man, in a supporting role in the Empire, who would, **SPOILERS** as Darth Vader pointed out to him, "choke on his aspirations". YES! There is Vader, and I thought it actually worked quite well in this framework. His suit is much less permanent, and he doesn't have the capability of seeing just how thin the veil really is over his more human and frail Anakin visage. I liked the red lenses a lot, it gave a more sinister close-up look at Vader, and his mask not quite having the full on "hsss-tch" when he breathes showed that it was still early in his suit's design.
speaking of that classic "hsss-tch" breathing apparatus sound- Saw Gerrera's look in this movie was that of a perfectly opposing look at Vader. Like a "Mirror, Mirror" version of himself, he is fighting alongside the rebels, he is trying hard to cling to his humanity in spite of losing so much of his ACTUAL human form, and his stature is that of a lead-footed, clunky and lumbering robot man. But Saw's personality shines through in his final moments, showing that he, unlike his Dark Side counterpart, doesn't relish his detachment from humanity, but seems to hold quite a bit of jealousy for those who are more "whole" than he is.
I think there was a lot of good about the final battle of the film, but that of course, any Star Wars movie isn't complete without an all-too-simple solution; and in Rogue One, that solution presents itself in the form of a Master Switch, that allows transmissions to be beamed freely from a remote landing pad instead of from the broadcast tower directly. This was a bit silly, but in an ancient universe like this one, where plans and documents of any and all sorts are stored in thousand foot tall towers of SATA disc drives, truly anything is possible. The final fight between Jyn and Krennic played out very well, with Cassian's intervention timed out perfectly (of course, this IS a movie).
The final scenes on Scarif really hit home for me, and in a strange and circuitous manner, indeed. I watched the War for the Planet of the Apes trailer this last week, and told my wife about how my favorite Planet of the Apes movie is Beneath the Planet of the Apes, because of the ridiculous and over-the-top sci-fi elements (underground dwelling humans that worship an atomic bomb, those same humans are telekinetic, pyrokenetic and have a myriad of other abilities, not to mention their gross faces hidden by realistic human skin masks, and their hymns they sang to the bomb itself). but what really endeared Beneath to me, was the thing that hit me at the end of Rogue One- **SPOILERS** **SPOILERS** when Scarif is bombed by the Death Star, and all the rebels AND Imperials on the surface are killed, it harkened back to that moment at the end of Beneath, where Charlton Heston has succeeded in blowing up the Earth, destroying the Apes and the mutated humans alike, The voice over in the last scene that said "In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium sized star, and one of it's satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead..." that was what I felt in that moment, seeing Scarif wiped out and Jyn, Cassian and Krennic all meeting their ends unceremoniously, and certainly unable to come back for any Star Wars Anthology Film sequels...
I also thought the poignancy of Krennick's death, the realization at the end of his life was one of emptiness, failure and wasted ambition. He focused all his efforts on building the Death Star, on securing his "legacy" and in doing so, lost sight of what he was really doing, and what the true cost of such ambitions were. He died on that small, insignificant planet, while he looked up at his single greatest accomplishment, the longest standing achievement of the Empire, to be usurped by another, more conniving and manipulative than himself. He died at the hands of his own dream of glory and greatness, and his attempts to reach too high caused him to fall that much further down.
I really hope the Star Wars anthology films can continue this trend of good, solid filmmaking, helping to deepen the mythos of the Star Wars Universe, and to bring new stories from a Galaxy Far Away and a Long Time Ago to the adoring fans…
This was a great movie, with some fantastic moments, some awesome and hilarious (depending on the situation) cameos, and a tone that sets itself apart from the main series of Star Wars films, while doing what it set out to do well enough to cement it's own place in the pantheon of Star Wars lore. There were moments that stuck out, for good or bad, and there were moments that I surely missed (or omitted because I honestly don't want to spoil EVERYTHING) but overall, I think that Rogue One is a great film, and a highly enjoyable moviegoing experience, and I definitely recommend it for any and all Star Wars fans!
I may have to walk back my Force Awakens rating a little bit here, because I feel like Rogue One may have surpassed it by a little bit. I don't like to get into decimal points, but i think that they could give a bit more clarity into the rating of those two films- while TFA was originally a 9, I think that after many home viewings, and getting more time to think critically about the film, it is probably closer to an 8.5, while I think the rating for Rogue One should stand on it's own and I would hope my score reflects that...
I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. and may the Force be with you!