I know I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to posting my thoughts on Rogue One, but its been a long holiday. Luckily, I finally got around to seeing the latest Star Wars film by Disney this past weekend. I had been looking forward to this film to see how they would portray this story on the big screen. As many of you know, this is the prequel as to what happened right before the events of the first Star Wars film all the way back in 1977. It tells the story of the group of rebels who were able to steal the plans to the Death Star and give the rebels the leverage needed to destroy it in that first film. It’s a pretty intriguing idea for a Star Wars film (this is technically a “Star Wars Story”, but you get the idea), and one that could’ve made for one of the most impressive and unique Star Wars films to date. Instead, it ends up being an above-average film that’s a pretty good Star Wars film.
The characters in this story are Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a young woman who is enlisted by the Rebellion to find these plans. They ask her because her father (Mads Mikkelsen) was kidnapped by the Empire to build the weapon for them. The main villain of the film, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), is in charge of weapons for the Empire and is in charge of making sure that the Death Star is fully operational. Jyn and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) continue to find their band of misfits to enact the stealing of these plans before the Empire has too much power.
The director of this first Star Wars spinoff film is Gareth Edwards, who previously directed 2014’s Godzilla for Warner Bros. Edwards is a talented visual director, but he might’ve had a hard time with everything else judging on what you read/believe. Rogue One went through numerous reshoots and rewrites during the making of this film, with Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, The Bourne Legacy) having to come in and essentially save the film, based on what’s been reported. Watching this film and its trailers, its apparent that reshoots were enacted. Some of it was for the best, other times not so much. There is a plethora of action sprinkled all over this film, with a very exciting finale taking place between the Rebellion and the Empire for these said plans. It’s mixed with some impressive dogfights in space along with some ground combat in a beach-themed planet.
The action is really impressive, but the film feels a little empty outside of that. I didn’t really care much for any of the characters in the film, even though many of the actors performing in the film did some fine work. I’ve always loved Felicity Jones, and she’s probably one of the strongest parts of the film. Jyn is no Rey, but I’m happy that Disney’s Star Wars films are starting to FINALLY give their protagonist roles to strong females. Unfortunately, Kathleen Kennedy doesn’t feel the same way about giving females roles behind the camera, but at least there’s strong female leads in these massive blockbusters.
Diego Luna is one of my favorite actors, and it was great to see him in a huge blockbuster like this one. His character isn’t terribly interesting however, but Luna’s presence keeps it interesting. Riz Ahmed, who’s finally getting the recognition he’s long deserved this year, plays a rogue Empire pilot who is also apart of this band of rebels. Again, character not that interesting, but he’s great in the film. My favorite characters other than Jyn were Mendelsohn as the villain, who appeared to be having a ball playing this character. The hamminess of his character is through the roof, but Mendelsohn knew what he was doing and it was an absolute joy to see him perform like this. I also enjoyed Alan Tudyk’s motion-capture performance as K-2SO, who’s essentially a precursor to C-3PO. Tudyk was wonderful and genuinely funny in his performance.
I wish I could say the same about the rest of the film. The action is great and so is the cast, but the screenplay just isn’t all there. Gilroy gets final screenwriting credit with Chris Weitz (American Pie, About a Boy), and it feels a little uneven. The film is trying desperately to be as dark and grim as it can be, but it’s also trying to sprinkle in some of the light-hearted fun from the original Star Wars films. It’s tonally all over the place, and the reshoots/rewrites are probably to blame for this. Disney probably got scared that the film was too dark and they needed to try to have some lighter moment sprinkled in their so that the kids could be able to go see it. It’s still a pretty dark film (one of the darker Star Wars films ever made), but it’s pretty kid-friendly if you ask me. Maybe not so much for kids under 6 but past that you should be good.
All in all, Rogue One was okay. Nothing special. I actually enjoyed The Force Awakens more than Rogue One, which I thought was strange. Maybe I was disappointed because I thought Rogue One would’ve been a smaller-scale film compared to others, but this one still felt rather large in scope. Maybe Disney will get a little edgier in the latter Star Wars films and subsequent spinoffs (The Han Solo-spinoff is still hotly anticipated on this website), but who knows. They’re still playing it a little too safe for my taste but the box office receipts are still plentiful for the mouse-house. If you haven’t seen Rogue One and you want to, go ahead. It’s a fun action film with some flaws, but I still enjoyed myself watching it. It was never boring, which I can’t say for most films of its caliber. Here’s to next Christmas giving us a better Star Wars film.