I’m a simple man, I see Star Wars, I watch. You’d be hard pressed to find any franchise that’s had a bigger impact on pop culture than Star Wars. No matter how you may feel about a particular film in it’s saga (Episode 1 and Episode 2 are trash), they still provide iconic moments and are always a spectacle when a new one releases. Although A Force Awakens left me highly underwhelmed (which has been well documented), and slightly concerned with the future direction, I couldn’t help but feel that child like excitement creep back in when I first saw the trailer for Rogue One. It looked gritty, full of interesting characters, and even though there were no Jedi or Sith, it looked like one of the most action packed Star Wars films to date. In short, it looked like the new Star Wars movies I have been waiting for.
The story is refreshingly simple, and a welcome change for a series in which things can sometimes get overly verbose (the prequels) and muddied with lore and history (A Force Awakens).
The general set up of Rogue One is that it’s a direct prequel to A New Hope (the OG), and it tells the untold story about the group of rebels who initially stole and delivered the Death Star blueprints. Simple right?
No Jedi or Sith, no political exposition, no complicated family backstories, just good clean fun, and probably definitely the most straightforward film in the series yet. The story is refreshingly simple, and a welcome change for a series in which things can sometimes get overly verbose (the prequels) and muddied with lore and history (A Force Awakens). An opportunity afforded due to it’s status as an anthology film and not directly a part of the main (Skywalker) saga; it’s a circumstance they utilize extremely well. The story of how this rag tag group of rebels risk everything to get these blueprints is extremely well told despite us knowing the outcome, and adds a new found weight to the events that unfold later in A New Hope.
And the space and ground battles…my god. They have a weight and grittiness to them that I’ve never felt in a Star Wars movie before.
The visuals on Rogue One are absolutely fantastic, as one would come to expect from a Lucasfilms production. There are not as many diverse locations to visit as in the other films, but what you do get is as good as any locale they’ve visited before. We even get a glimpse of Darth Vader’s “castle.” The world building is fantastic and everything has that “lived in” feel that really pulls you in. And the space and ground battles…my god. They have a weight and grittiness to them that I’ve never felt in a Star Wars movie before. They are probably my favorite action set pieces in any movie from the series, and could rival any real world war film. The character designs are amazing, especially with K-2SO, you can’t notice that he’s in fact a full CGI rendition. With that being said, there are a couple moments where the CGI with certain characters can get a little wonky, but not enough to pull me out of the experience.
…I have to mention Darth Vader. While he only shows up for a handful of minutes, those were some of the coolest fucking minutes you’ll ever see and completely wrecked an entire movie’s worth of Kylo Ren.
The one area I’d say was lacking in any way would have to be with the characters in general. Outside of Jyn, none of them were really given any back story or real motivations for why they’re taking this mission. Everything in their pasts is talked about vaguely. But honestly, I think it was done in favor of the story, because while individually there wasn’t anybody that stood out as iconic as a Luke Skywalker, collectively they were one of the more interesting groups to watch. Their chemistry was great and they were so likable that the more emotional moments really hit hard and had me desperately rooting for them to win. That’s not to say there weren’t great individual characters though; Donnie Yen as Chirrut and Alan Tudyk as K-2SO are hilarious and steal every scene they’re in, while Felicity Jones as Jyn brought some real emotion and heart to the proceedings. Lastly, I have to mention Darth Vader. While he only shows up for a handful of minutes, those were some of the coolest fucking minutes you’ll ever see and completely wrecked an entire movie’s worth of Kylo Ren.
Have you seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? What’d you think about it? Did it live up to the hype? What moments were your favorite? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave your rating for the movie.
* SPOILERS *
Everybody dies. It was something I wasn’t sure they’d do, but I’m extremely happy they did. While I hate to see K-2SO, Chirrut, Jyn, and the others go, their deaths brought such a meaningful weight to the story and honestly were some of the most impactful death scenes I’ve seen from Star Wars. A risk well worth it.
Seeing a CGI Tarkin and Leia was a little weird, especially since the actor who originally played Tarkin is deceased. Also, while it wasn’t scene breakingly noticeable, it was still noticeable that it was CGI and still had that slight uncanny valley/plastic feel to them. A little less direct shots would have been more sutable. But I think overall it was a risk that paid off, I just hope it doesn’t become the norm.
There was a ton of cool fan service throughout. Seeing the two guys who started trouble (and lost an arm) with Luke and Obi-Wan from the original, on Jedha was cool. Blue milk seems to be the galaxy norm. C-3Po and R2-D2 once again make a short appearance.
If you watch Star Wars Rebels (guilty), then you’d notice Chopper and a possible audio reference to Hera.
I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure the name’s Jyn was calling out in the archives were most likely referencing something in the lore.
Watching Darth Vader at the height of his power wrecking shit had me smiling like a little schoolgirl. So bad ass.
Let me know what you guys noticed and what you liked the most.
Rogue One, despite not having some of the traditional Star Wars pillars, still puts together fantastic world building, engaging characters, and some of the most iconic moments I've ever seen. It's gritty and impactful in a way I've never felt from the series before and is a contender for my favorite Star Wars movie. A more than worthy addition to the Star Wars lore.