I saw Rogue One on Thursday, since apparently nowadays movies have to come out a day before they’re actually released, and I thought I would share my thoughts for those of you who haven’t had a chance to see it yet. In case you like, value my opinion or something.
Let us begin!
The first half of the movie is largely exposition and build-up with the second half being primarily the operation, and subsequent battle, to recover the Death Star plans. Personally, I wish that there had been a little more time spent in the first half. While the battle scenes were great (more on that later), I think they could’ve been trimmed back in favor of more character development in the earlier parts of the film.
This is especially true for Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who I felt weren’t thoroughly explored. We know that Bodhi defects to the Rebellion, but we have no idea why. He never really explains it, and I think in a movie where the actions of the Rebellion are a bit grayer than they generally are in other Star Wars films, it would’ve been nice to be given some back story on that decision. It also would have made the stakes for his character higher and his actions more believable.
Cassian, we learn, is the war weary Rebellion vet who has perhaps seen too much. But I wish we got to learn a little bit more about him, like specifically why he joined the Rebellion. Or maybe we could’ve heard about one or two defining missions in his career where tough choices had to be made, but he still felt assured that he was fighting for the right side.
I think his lack of back story stood out most during his interactions with our heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and in the way that the crew eventually comes together. I think if he had a stronger background, the dramatic moment where the team coalesces before the final battle would’ve been more emotionally resonant. And maybe if he related some personalized story that helped Jyn find common ground with him, like realizing their mothers shared the same first name or something, that might’ve made their relationship stronger and more believable.
There were some really great characters in the movie though. The new droid, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), was a fun injection of humor into a film that is on the darker side of the Star Wars spectrum. His character almost always had some snarky comment to make about the situation, which I thought was great. It was almost like we finally got to hear all the things R2-D2 says that we can’t understand.
Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) were also solid additions to the team. Chirrut is essentially a Force monk, not a force user himself but more a believer in its religious properties, and Baze is his friend and guardian (since Chirrut is blind). They both added some humor to the mix but also gravity, as I thought their friendship was probably the tightest character interaction in the film. We don’t know a ton about their backgrounds, but we do get to see why they want to join the Rebellion, which I think was enough.
Back to the battle scenes…man were those parts of the film spectacular. Visually they are stunning, and getting to see a more gritty, on-the-ground take for the skirmishes and war scenes was very cool. In a lot of ways this felt like watching a war film, which is a very different direction for Star Wars. Even the films that have long battle sequences, like Return of the Jedi, still end up going back to the Force and the hero’s journey of the Jedi, but in Rogue One the end of the movie jumps between different elements of the battle non-stop.
This film also gives us a slightly darker view of the Rebellion, which is again a different direction for a Star Wars film. Though they are the good guys in the series, they are still basically a terrorist movement, and seeing how they operate in that capacity where things aren’t so clear cut good and evil was interesting. I wish this had been explored a little bit more, again perhaps through the eyes of Cassian as he explained some of his experiences, but it was still very cool that this element was brought up at all.
One other thing that I found slightly onerous was the level of fan service in the film, which is probably not a great sign for my future Star Wars film viewing, since this is only the second movie under the new Disney regime and I’m sure there’s much more of this to come. I didn’t think any specific element was bad, but there was a lot of it, and some of these additions came off as cheesy or overbearing. To be fair, this may be the only film that will take place around the timeline of the original trilogy, so I suppose a high level of homage was to be expected. However, I’m hoping in the future we can have some Star Wars films that don’t lean on this to get fans into it and can be more confident in their storytelling.
That being said, I really appreciated finally getting a badass Darth Vader scene. After having him turned into a whining brat throughout the prequels and never really getting to see him do anything menacing across those three films, we finally got *that* scene where he murders a whole bunch of people. It was awesome. Really awesome.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I think it was better than The Force Awakens, and I think you could rate it as arguably the third best Star Wars film behind The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope, but it still lags pretty far behind those two films in terms of quality. I had been hoping for more, but the movie is still quite good and definitely worth seeing.
It’s also an important movie in the sense that it shows how the franchise can expand and go in different directions. I would really love to see more Star Wars films like Rogue One that go beyond the traditional elements found in the Episode films and explore other parts of the timeline or setting.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, I recommend it. If you have, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and let me know if you agree or disagree with my points, or if there was some part of the film you thought worth discussing that I didn’t bring up. Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you.