“The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.”
Hearing the synopsis for Rogue One, I was curious if there would be enough story to cover when it came to stealing the death star plans. I never asked for this film to be made, but as I thought about it more, I loved the idea because Gareth Edwards, the director, stated he wanted to make an all out war film. With Edwards’ pitch and the cast that was announced, I was convinced this anthology Star Wars story had potential.
This was one of my most anticipated films of 2016 because of the trailers. The trailers for Rogue One were some of the best 3 minute clips I’ve ever seen in my life. I was stunned when I saw how gorgeous the visuals and cinematography looked. The characters captivated me and the music, as always, gave me goosebumps. I loved The Force Awakens, but I thought Rogue One was going to be even better due to the definitive time period, the surplus of original characters, the spectacle, and the situations. I got to see this on the big screen and thought to myself after, “WOW, I Am One with the Force; The Force Is with Me.” Let’s get started!
I absolutely loved what they did with this plot. There was so much more depth between the Empire (villains) and the Rebels (heroes) than I’ve ever seen explored in any other Star Wars movie. The other Star Wars films have relationships as their main focus, with war as a setting, but war was the bigger presence in Rogue One. I felt a real sense of terror throughout the entire galaxy since the main conflict was solely focused on the Death Star.
To me, the Death Star scared me in this film because they effectively showed its power as I got to see it from point of view on the planets being destroyed. Through this film, I got backstory on who made the Death Star and why it was created. The Death Star became more interesting to me and there are amazing details that connect with the original saga perfectly. The pacing kept me excited, the tone was consistent throughout, and I cared about getting those plans!
The stand out for me was Donnie Yen. I was so excited to see Yen, who previously played Ip Man, joining the rebel alliance because he’s a great actor and could integrate fight choreography that would feel refreshing to this franchise. Seeing Donnie Yen’s character slapping storm troopers around with a stick was very entertaining and I loved the spirituality that he carried himself with while influencing others. His performance really established what the force meant and how it can be useful when an individual embraces it purely.
Diego Luna was right up there with Yen’s character in terms of what he brought to his performance as Cassian and how AWESOME I thought his character was. His character hooked me into the story right away as I saw traits of someone who was ruthless enough to get a necessary action done for the right cause. I loved his accent, his name, his wardrobe, his motivations for fighting, and felt empathy as I learned more about his entire battle through his life. “Rebellions are built on hope.”
Ben Mendelsohn is a phenomenal actor who makes every film better with his characters. He was a fantastic villain who gave me a sense of purpose for those fighting for the Empire. He wanted an audience and recognition for his work as he took pride in the awful actions he was achieving.
Everyone else in this film does an excellent job with their performances; everything felt authentic and I believed these people belonged in this galaxy, I just had issues with development as their characters.
Star Wars has always managed to have their main grounded message memorable and visible within their gigantic spectacle films. The main theme I always notice from these stories are simply hope. Hope within anyone has the ability to get that person through anything. With hope, a person won’t give up and will continue to move forward with a positive outlook. Hope is the power of belief that we can get through tough times, which is something everyone experiences at some point.
Anytime I see this theme, whether it’s expressed in Shawshank Redemption or something as far fetched as Rogue One, I feel inspired to keep myself motivated and push through anything. Our country, in terms of politics, is at its worst than I’ve ever experienced. Being hopeful that we remain safe as people and fight together when necessary for what’s right makes this film extremely relevant.
My main issue with Rogue One is that the majority of the shots in the trailers that got me in the theater were all cut. I was disappointed when I thought I would see those iconic shots on the big screen. Because there was so much false marketing, it distracted me, and the content that made the final cut was inferior to the scenes in the marketing clips. Where the heck were these scenes, I wanted to see these?!
Along with several other characters, Jyn Erso was underdeveloped for me. I understood her relationship with her father, she was a significant character, but there was a lot of history that I didn’t get to see that would allow me to understand why she behaved the way she did. She was supposedly this war criminal for over a decade. I didn’t know her motivations and didn’t understand the changes she made when it came to accepting a new ideology on the force.
Her dialogue at times sounded like they were just made for the trailers to market another female heroine, which they did do when it came to the line, “I rebel.” I loved Jyn Erso as a character more in the trailers than in the movie itself. Felicity Jones gave a perfect performance, her character just didn’t resonate with me as much as the others.
The CGI on Tarkin was a minor issue for me. I consider CGI to be amazing when I can’t tell that it’s CGI and looks completely real. The best use of de-aging visual effects that I’ve seen were used on Michael Douglass for Ant-Man.
Peter Cushing was incredible as Grand Moff Tarkin and seeing them CGI his face on another actor was weird at first. I had to convince myself that it wasn’t CGI, but it was difficult considering I look at faces everyday. I love seeing that technology in films are evolving, but I think it was still too early to use it for this because when he was in the same scene with Mendolsohn, it looked like Mendolsohn was interacting with a video game character.
Rogue One was bold and I loved seeing it! The visuals were breathtaking, the performances were all great, the theme was expressed exceptionally, the music was serviceable, and there was enough levity. The ending scene is one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history without question. Thank you very much for reading my review and I hope you love this film as well. The force is strong. My rating for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is 9/10!