Star Wars is the reason I write this blog. It is the reason I love movies and I am hooked on the lore and the world of Star Wars. I haven’t written my review for Episode VII yet, and that will be coming over the Christmas period along with all of the episodes. Now Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie that is not classed as an Episode, and delves into the events that happened just before the original Star Wars movie released way back in 1977.
As a huge Star Wars fan, this movie was a great entry and the ties into A New Hope and references to the wider star wars universe are fantastic. The way the film addresses one of the most contentious plot points about the original film is brilliant, and the sparing use of Darth Vader (and i mean sparing) made me jump in my seat like a child, just like i did when i first experienced Star Wars. If you are a big Star Wars fan this film is a must see and you have probably already seen it.
It is very much a war movie, with buckets of action that’s well directed and easy to follow, with some stunning wow moments in the hectic third act of the film. Hectic is probably the best word for it, as the film really does kick up a couple of notches after a reasonably slow paced first and second acts of the film. There are action scenes throughout, but a lot of the first hour of the film is spent setting up the team and what the mission is.
Whilst overall i really enjoyed Rogue One, it does have its issues. The performances are mostly solid, with Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in the lead role the obvious stand out performance. Alongside her Alan Tudyk voices one of the most memorable characters in the film as the droid K2SO, providing some needed levity and humour to scenes just when they start to feel like they are dragging. Diego Luna, Ben Mendolsohn and Donnie Yen are all memorable characters too, but we don’t get enough time with them to really give the actors enough to work with and have a real impact on the film.
The rest of the supporting cast aren’t given a great deal of time for us to buy into them, and that is one of my criticisms with Rogue One. Star Wars has always hooked me because of the Characters and how we can get really invested in their stories. Despite the slow pace adopted for periods of the film, I didn’t feel really invested in anyone aside from Jyn and K2SO. The team formed for the mission are all likeable characters and all have their own moments in the film, but I would have liked to know more about the different members of the group.
Aside from that, the only other thing that I really struggled with in this film is the use of a CGI motion capture human character that will throw you headfirst into Uncanny Valley, as whilst it looks great, the fact is nobody has yet found the key to making an animated character look and feel right around other real human faces in the same screen. The character had more screen time than i expected, and the CGI did take me out of the film whenever he was on screen.
Now of course I am aware not everyone out there is a Star Wars nerd like me, and those of you that just enjoy movies may not find the film quite as entertaining as i did. The action is brilliantly shot and the dog fighting in space with X-wings and TIE fighters is up there with Return of the Jedi in terms of space battles. There is a real sense of scale throughout when there are large ships, Buildings or certain Moon like space stations on screen which is something that director Gareth Edwards seems to have a really good handle on with both this film and 2014’s Godzilla.
All in all, i really enjoyed Rogue One. The last act, and in particular the very last 5-10 minutes left me with a smile on my face and did the rare trick of being a prequel that really does add into the following films extremely well. I do have to try and keep my Star Wars goggles off, and acknowledge the flaws of the film with a not quite enough characters developed and some pacing issues where the film can drag a little in parts. These issues are minor for me though, and I do genuinely think there’s something in Rogue One for most movie fans.
8.5/10 – Rogue One delivers big to Star Wars fans in particular.