Star Wars‘ resurgence in mainstream media over the past few years has been met with overwhelming positivity and excitement from critics and fans around the world who are eager to return to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Before the release of last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was announced by Disney that they’d be looking to release a Star Wars film each year, starting with the franchise’s first Anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
As far as prequels go, Star Wars hasn’t exactly hit the mark in the past, with both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones receiving negative reviews, while Revenge of the Sith garnered more favorable ratings. So, how does Rogue One stack up in comparison to the other Star Wars prequels? Let’s dive into the review and find out!
Rogue One follows a ragtag group of Rebels who try and devise a plan to steal the schematics to the Empire’s deadliest weapon, the Death Star, and the events of this movie take place before the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope) which was released in 1977. Right off the bat, you can tell that this is going to be a Star Wars movie unlike any we’ve ever seen. Although I knew of it not being there, the lack of an opening title crawl really threw me for a loop because I’m so used to seeing it.
Because I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the original film, it was cool to see everything that happened before A New Hope. However, instead of looking at Rogue One as a prequel to A New Hope, I viewed it more as a sequel to Revenge of the Sith, as the film picks up about 15 years give or take after Anakin Skywalker’s evolution into Darth Vader. (Spoilers?)
Rogue One‘s story isn’t anything revolutionary but knowing the outcome of the original trilogy, and seeing how it all started with this small team of Rebels giving it their all to try and stop the Empire from becoming a tyrannic ruler of the Galaxy was inspiring in a way. It just goes to show you that no matter how small you think you are that you can still make a difference.
As I mentioned above, I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so it was relatively easy for me to jump right into the story and understand most of the little references and callbacks to previous Star Wars films, but a mainstream moviegoer might find themselves getting lost quite quickly. Rogue One relies heavily on you having seen the previous films, and if you haven’t, you might find yourself leaning over to the person next to you and asking: “Wait, what are they talking about again?” numerous times throughout Rogue One‘s 2 hour and 13-minute runtime.
I feel like this issue could’ve easily been resolved by the film containing an opening crawl, as it not only would’ve given Star Wars fans something they expect to see, but it also would’ve been a way to explain to casual moviegoers what’s been going on in the galaxy since Darth Vader’s rise to power at the end of Revenge of the Sith.
Don’t expect to see Lightsaber battles and Force usage in this film, as Rogue One is a war movie through and through. When you hear the name Star Wars, the first things that most likely come to mind are the Jedi, Lightsabers, the Sith. While the latter does have a presence in this movie, it’s not nearly as strong as it is in previous entries, only because this film puts more focus on the Rebels than ever before. Seeing a different perspective of the war with the Empire was a refreshing idea that was executed very well.
The sheer scale of the film’s battles are massive, from the space battles in orbit above to the boots on the ground in the trenches exchanging gunfire between the Rebels and the Empire, the way these scenes are shot are among some of the best that we’ve seen so far in this new wave of Star Wars films. Without giving too much away, there’s a sequence in the film’s 3rd act that never saw coming. It was a badass, exciting, visual spectacle that so well done; I wished there was more of it!
Speaking of the visuals, I do, however, have a complaint. I’m going to try and describe it as best as I can without spoiling anything, but there’s a particular character in the film whose head is created purely using CGI. I get why they did it and in a way, I’m glad that they did, but it just frankly looked… bad. It was so strange that whenever they were on screen, I immediately noticed the CG. It may not be a bother to some, but it was to me.
This right here is a mixed bag for me. Aside from Darth Vader who was just as menacing as ever, everyone else was hit or miss. Rogue One‘s story is told through the perspective of Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, and when there were times in the film that called for more emotion, anger, or sadness, she just did not deliver, and the same goes for the rest of Erso’s group. I didn’t fully buy them as a team, and I dislike how they came together so conveniently.
I would’ve liked to see the group to come together in a more organic way; it just seemed like too much of a coincidence that these people were all in the same place at the same time.
Aside from Ben Mendelsohn and his standout and brilliant performance as Rogue One‘s main antagonist, Orson Krennic, Alan Tudyk really surprised me as K-2SO – a reprogrammed Imperial droid. At first, I wasn’t a fan of the character, feeling as if he’d become annoying throughout the course of the movie and overstay his welcome, but around the 2nd act is when K-2SO began to grow on me. His sarcastic and humorous personality was a great contrast to the dark and grittiness that is spread throughout Rogue One.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was kind of an experiment for Disney in a way. They believed that they could make a fun and engaging Star Wars movie without the use of lightsaber fights and Jedi, and for the most part they succeeded. Obviously, there won’t be a sequel to Rogue One due to it being the predecessor to A New Hope, but I fully expect to see another movie like this down the line in the Star Wars franchise.
Next year’s film will pick up directly after The Force Awakens, and will continue the journey of Rey, Finn, & Kylo in Star Wars: Episode VIII, and in 2018 we’ll be getting our 2nd Anthology film that will focus on a young Han Solo.
In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.