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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.

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I always liked Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ever since its release, it was the first spin off in the Star Wars series and it had me interested in what other spin off movies they could make in the future. I don’t love it as much as I did when I first saw it, and I don’t consider it to be among the best Star Wars movies by any means. I still think it’s quite good though, and has a lot of great parts to it.

Rogue One does very well to establish itself as being very different kind of Star Wars movie, with more of a war movie feel to it. However you still feel like you’re in the Star Wars universe. I’m aware that some people found the movie a little boring. I was interested in the movie all the way through, but I will say it’s not as riveting as it could’ve been for at least the first half or so. This war movie take on a Star Wars movie certainly provided some things that we aren’t used to seeing in the series, with grey areas and darker places that weren’t explored previously (like how the methods by the Rebels weren’t always ethical). There are some callbacks to the original Star Wars, and that makes sense given that it’s a direct prequel, and for the most part it’s actually done quite well. One of the best parts was how they used the plot point from the original Star Wars with the Death Star having a conveniently large enough hole for a single blast from a fighter to explode the entire station. Now there’s an official canon reason for that being the case, with Galen Erso specifically placing that deliberate flaw in the design.

What shines most of all in the movie is the third act. From what I can tell a lot of it was changed with some reshoots, I can’t say which version would’ve been better. However I did like the third act that we got. It’s large scale, entertaining and was really well handled. It was also fitting that all the main characters died on that suicide mission, we haven’t seen the protagonists actually get killed off for good in this series and it worked for the movie. Then there’s the stand out scene of the movie, with Darth Vader mastering a bunch of Rebels at the end as they desperately try to get the Death Star plans out. I’ve seen a lot of positive responses to it, and I’ve also seen some people who don’t really like it. I can see both sides, on one hand this is Vader at his most vicious and powerful, and this is one of his stand out scenes from the entire series. At the same time, I can see how this makes it feel like another main Star Wars movie instead of the ‘grounded’ war movie it was for the rest of the movie, even with the inclusion of a lightsabre alone. I liked it but I can see why people don’t.

The use of Darth Vader was fitting enough, and so was Tarkin. The Princess Leia cameo I guess was alright, and worked as it was directly leading into the events of the original Star Wars. However there are also some weird callback decisions that are just annoying more than anything else. If you remember back to a New Hope, there were two people who attack Luke, who was then saved by Obi Wan Kenobi. Well those two people happen to bump into Jyn Erso while she and Cassian and K-2SO happen to be on Jedha, it was such a bizarre cameo to have and I have no idea why they decided to include that. Also C-3PO and R2-D2 randomly appear at the Rebel base just before the climax, for no reason at all. I guess just to remind audiences that they’re around at the time.

There is a large cast of characters. While the actors generally do well, the characters are hit or miss, and they are generally underdeveloped unfortunately. Felicity Jones is quite good as Jyn Erso, the lead character in the story, and other actors with the likes of Diego Luna, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk also do well. Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen don’t really get to do as much out of the main Rogue One cast. Mads Mikkelsen played a small but critical role as Jyn’s father, who created the Death Star. He did very well in his screentime. There’s also the addition of Grand Moff Tarkin, who was critical in the original Star Wars, so you can see why they wanted to place him in this movie. I liked his addition, you felt his presence yet he wasn’t overbearing or overused. The recreation of original actor’s Peter Cushing’s appearance however was rather mixed. Although the Cushing voice impression is great, the CGI goes from looking good to looking like a decent video game character, not terrible but in a live action movie with real actors definitely seeming off. Of the cast, the actor I liked the most was Ben Mendelsohn as the main antagonist of the film, Orson Krennic, the director of the Death Star. Although he was quite a different type of Star Wars villain, a big part of why he worked was Mendelsohn’s performance, he’s been playing a lot of antagonists recently but Krennic is definitely one of his best.

I thought that Gareth Edwards’ direction worked very well for the film. The war-movie feel worked so well and it all feels gritty and dirty throughout, as it should’ve. It’s also such a great looking movie, with some really great visuals and very well directed action sequences, the highlights of course being in the final act. I like the music by Michael Giaachino as well, it fit the movie very well, and even gets to shine at certain points. That new Imperial theme in particular is great, creating an alternate theme to one of the most iconic tracks of all time is intimidating for sure, but he managed to create a newer and separate theme which really worked for this film.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story still holds up pretty well a few years later. The direction by Gareth Edwards was great, the cast do quite well in their roles, and it was overall a unique and different entry that we hadn’t seen in the series before this point. It has its annoyances for sure, mostly some lack of characterisation, and parts of the plot could’ve been a little more interesting, but it’s still good on the whole.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

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Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

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.

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Rogue One was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. With a very talented cast, a really good director with Gareth Edwards (yes, I really like 2014’s Godzilla) this film looked like it was going to be amazing. Plus, it’s Star Wars, and I loved what Disney has done with The Force Awakens, so I was confident in how Rogue One would turn out. I have to say, Rogue One really surprised me. I loved the tone, the direction, the acting, the story, the connections to Episode 4, I loved everything about this movie. I knew I would love this movie, but I didn’t know that I would love it this much, it’s actually kind of a surprise.

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First of all, it needs to be said that this is a very different kind of Star Wars movie. Even the opening credits crawl in the previous Star Wars films is missing here. This film is noticeably more gritty and feels more real than the other Star Wars movies, many people die, the stakes are high, this is a very serious film. There are moral ambigiouties when it comes to certain aspects of the Star Wars universe and characters. For example, the Resistance aren’t perfectly clean and good, some morally ambiguous choices and decisions are made, a lot of it being through Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor. This film also gave an insight into the inner workings of the Empire (through Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic), which was also really interesting to watch. Rogue One was overall such a different Star Wars movie. Also without spoiling anything, this film links up to Episode 4 in more ways than you would think, there are so many references and Easter Eggs that Star Wars fans such as myself will love. However at the same time it does work as a standalone, it balances both aspects exceptionally And the third act…. the third act is quite simply perfect, I won’t give too much away but everything in the third act works for the movie and is just incredible. Even though this film is dark and gritty, it is still entertaining, the humour was well utilized and used appropriately, and the movie is still fun to watch, this movie is well balanced out. With flaws, I’d say maybe the pacing of the first act could’ve been done better, and I feel like some of the characters could’ve been a little more developed but the characters work very well, so it’s not a major issue for me. Everything else was excellent.

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Everyone does a great job in the movie. Felicity Jones is really good as the main lead, she was believable and was a likable protagonist for us to follow. Diego Luna was fantastic, he really conveyed an insight into the rebellion, definitely a strong point in the movie. Other actors of the cast include Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen, all of them are great in their roles and really leave impressions. There were particularly 2 showstealers however, one of them was Alan Tudyk who played K-2SO, a former Imperial droid now on the side of the Revels. He was so entertaining to watch, he was hilarious and he stole every scene he was in, and from the sounds of things he’s already becoming a fan favourite (and rightfully so). The other showstealer was Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous and ambitious Director Krennic, who was in charge of creating the Death Star. Mendelsohn is such a talented actor, and he is fantastic in his role. There is also a third character who I want to add in this list but it might be a spoiler, so I won’t say who it is. But if you watch the movie, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Mads Mikkelsen and Forrest Whitaker are both incredible actors and although they aren’t in the movie a lot, they are great in their roles and the scenes they are in. They left very strong impressions on me, especially Mads Mikkelsen. Though I do think they should’ve been in a little more scenes. As for Darth Vader, there’s not a lot of him in this movie, so don’t go into this movie expecting Rebels vs Darth Vader. However he does make a very strong impression, particularly in one scene, which I have to say is one of the best Darth Vader scenes of all time. That’s all I’m going to say.

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Gareth Edward’s direction of the film is excellent. As to be expected, the special effects are fantastic, I didn’t have an issue at any point with them. The action is entertaining, well shot and directed and is incredibly riveting, especially in the third act. This movie really feels gritty and real, and much of it is due to the direction and also the production design. The locations were beautiful, and the scenes were shot beautifully. Also, I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that a certain special effect was used in this movie that blew me away, it makes me wonder how this will be used in movies in the future. The soundtrack was a bit of a concern for me before watching the movie, as Michael Giacchino had 4 and a half weeks to compose the music after the original composer Alexandre Desplat dropped out. The soundtrack here is pretty good, not really memorable but it worked well for the film. It doesn’t try to imitate John Williams’s scores, instead it goes in its own direction, which I think was the best decision.

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Rogue One surpassed my expectations, and that’s saying a lot considering the fact that I had very high expectations for this movie. The characters were great, the acting was very impressive, the movie was entertaining overall and the story was very captivating and never let up. Aside from some more characterisation needed and that the first act’s pacing needing work, I don’t have many problems with this movie. However I do think that in some ways I think that if you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll love this more than people who aren’t such huge fans of the series, due to how much this film connects to episode 4. You won’t get the full experience unless you have seen the Star Wars movies before, however I think it still works as a standalone film. Now after seeing Rogue One, I can’t wait to see the Han Solo movie and I am looking forward to seeing more Star Wars Anthology films.