A spoiler-filled review of Gareth Edward’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the worst theatrically released Star Wars yet. I know that many will lambast the work that George Lucas did in this prequel trilogy, but I have a soft spot for his vision with those films. I understand that Lucas was trying to offer fans something different, expanding on the many stories and plot threads that he liked (and thought others would) while also pushing the boundaries of special effects. I’m not saying that Rogue One is bad (it’s not), it’s just that it doesn’t build any interesting characters but it does offer up some interesting battle sequences. It might be at its best when it’s trying to fit into the void between 2005’s Revenge of the Sith and 1977’s A New Hope (aka Star Wars).
Felicity Jones is Jyn Erso. the daughter of one of the men behind the design of the Death Star (Mads Mikkelson), She travels the galaxy, evading the shadow of the Empire, before getting picked up by the Rebel Alliance. She’s persuaded by the rag tag group of freedom fighters to try and get Saw Gerrera (Forest Whittaker) to join their number. However, Jyn releases that her father is attempting to help the rebels by releasing the weakness to the large planet killing space station. She decides that this might just be the only hope to save the galaxy and help the alliance defeat the Empire.
A Dirty Dozen type men (and woman) on a mission movie, Rogue One stays faithful to the aesthetic style of George Lucas’ 1977 game-changer. Gareth Edwards’ film creates a lot of characters but none of them have the spark of those in the original trilogy, the prequels or even J.J Abrams The Force Awakens. I can’t buy Felicity Jones as an intergalactic badass, no matter how many times we’re told she is – she just doesn’t have the chutzpah of Carrie Fisher’s Leia or Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor has a little more pizzaz, but he just feels like a poor man’s Han Solo. I liked Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, a character who might have been the bad guy, but he only wanted to get his job done – and I felt bad that not even his superiors admired his effort.
The film brings back Darth Vader (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) and we see him in action like never before, dispatching a group of rebels with his lightsaber. On the one hand this is great, yet on another slightly incongruous to how he’s presented in the original series. We’re also given a photorealistic CGI rebuilding of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, offering the character a full-blooded (yet totally pixelated) supporting role. Once you’ve met the original Rebel fighters and seen the plans to the Death Star handed to a youthful Carrie Fisher, you’ll be eager to get stuck into Lucas’ original trilogy. It’s as if Gareth Edwards didn’t just want to make a spin-off to A New Hope, but a whole new first act. It’s great seeing this, but deep down there’s a cynicism within me that makes me feel uneasy. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old, or maybe I respect George Lucas too much. It seems people don’t like it when Lucas messes around with his own movies, but it’s okay if a trumped-up fanboy can do it using $100 million of Disney’s dime.
It sounds like I didn’t enjoy Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – but I did. I just didn’t think it was great – and I’ve never walked out of a Star Wars film without ever feeling that. And that’s disappointing.