When I went to see Rogue One, I wanted initially to start writing about it when I had the chance, just venting about my thoughts on the film and every little detail that came into my head. However, I also wanted to write my thoughts about it properly, to give Rogue One the credit that it deserves while also pointing out some small problems which it had. I joked that people shouldn’t expect me to be non bias when it comes to Star Wars, but I want to do my best to look at Rogue One as objectively as possible. I hope you enjoy what you read as we explore this film together.
So Rogue One..
It’s a great film, definitely one of the best I’ve seen this year. The amount of work that has been placed into it should be commended, from the director (Gareth Edwards) for the creative vision used to bring this film to life, to the cast who made this an experience that was worth following. At it’s core Rogue One is a war film, maybe more of a war film than the other Star Wars films, with more moral grey and hard consequences than any of the others. I suppose the use of ‘regular’ people rather than Jedi or Sith (except perhaps one..) helps in that respect. I have three main problems with the film which, while minor to me, are still worth talking about.
The story takes place before the events of A New Hope, following a rebel group that is attempting to learn more about a top secret project that the Empire is working on (and that the father of main star Jyn Erso – Felicity Jones – has deep involvement with) With an ensemble of interesting characters from a Rebel recruiter (Diego Luna) with more moral grey than even Han Solo did initially, to a killer droid (Alan Tudyk) that is awesome to watch, to a blind man and his friend (Donnie and Jiang Wen) to a defected pilot with a heart of gold (Riz Ahmed) the rebel group have a lot of great moments together, and help to bring the film together. On the other side we have the ambitious and maybe a little in over his head, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendleshon) who has some great interactions with Jyn Erso, her father (Mads Mikklesen) and two certain returning characters that just add so much presence to this story. (keep these unnamed returning characters in mind, it’s important for later)
Consequently, this is where my first problem shows itself. It’s not that any of these characters are bad, far from it. It’s just that I wish that there was more time to get to know them. I’d have loved to learn more about those believers in the Force why Luna’s character Cassian Andor is the way he is. But the film just powers through at such a fast pace that it can be difficult to keep track of what’s happening at times. There’s still enough here to know what’s going on, but if the film was longer I feel that this problem would be solved.
How the rebellion is portrayed in Rogue One is also important. While still the good guys, there are several scenes where it’s agents have to do some ruthless things to get results or because they can’t always rely on something as abstract as hope. These scenes are great to watch, adding some depth to a group that has always been focused on it’s A Team in the Original Trilogy. This moral grey, however, doesn’t compromise the fact that the Rebellion is still the faction you should root for, since what they want is still a good thing and there are enough compassionate characters to keep the cause on track.
Visually, this film is amazing. With epic starfighter battle scenes both in space and planetside, to watching boots on the ground action which is something you rarely got to see with the Rebellion, to a myriad of different worlds that are visit, it’s just a joy to watch. And when you at last see the Death Star, it just adds so much fear factor to the film, since you know that it can do and that everyone else is just terrified of that fact. So action-wise, this film gets full marks from me.
Now, one thing I would like to bring up is the use of CGI. In Rogue One, it’s used to visually bring back certain characters whose actors have either passed away years ago or are too old to play those roles. On one hand I think it’s great, as I was not expecting the presence of those characters and it was great to have them part of the story rather than being just mentioned. On the other hand, I feel it’s a bit unnerving at times, using somebody’s likeness in that way. I suppose it isn’t as different compared to stunt doubles or having their image on books and animated material, but still, there’s something about it that doesn’t seem right. Still, it is great to have them in Rogue One.
Another small problem for me is the music. There are some great orchestral moments that I come to love in Star Wars, especially with the battle scenes. There are just other times where that sort of music, doesn’t quite fit with what is mainly a war film. When it works, it really works, but maybe some different kinds of music would have worked.
Finally, I want to talk about the last act of the film, because that’s my favourite. Not only does it have some great action moments with all of the main cast having their moments of awesomeness. Not only does it have great character moments and – mostly – fitting resolutions for them. Not only is it one of the best space combat moments that I’ve seen, with an epic ground battle going on. But to complete it all is the last few minutes, when another certain character arrives and just tops it all off with a glorious moment that is just amazing to watch, adding a sense of terror to a film that already has that element to it. All of it leads to A New Hope, and I think it just couples with it perfectly, finishing what I already considered to be a great film.
There’s something to be said about fan service as well since this film has a l0t of it, mostly done right with some small issues. However, I’ll leave that for another time. Instead I leave you with this.
Rogue One is a war film. In that sense, it’s very different from your typical Star Wars films, serving to add a sense of realism to a universe that.. well.. I can’t say if I want all the anthology films to be like this, but if other films are made with as much care and attention to detail as Rogue One is, then I feel that Star Wars will remain a great series to watch whether you’re a fan or just watch the films every now and then. I will be watching Rogue One again soon, and I cannot wait for it and the next film.