- Run time: 2 hours 13 minutes
- Studio: Lucasfilm
- Director: Gareth Edwards
- Where to Watch: Disney+
The Empire has begun consolidating power while squashing pockets of rebellion popping up across the galaxy. Acting as the Emperor’s enforcer, Director Krennic has succeeded in the creation of the ultimate weapon. But when a last ditch group of uncovers a weakness in the weapon, they must do all they can to prevent the galaxy from being conquered.
Star Wars is a series that I’ve never really tackled on the site before. I love all the movies (even the sequels to a much lesser extent) and that certainly makes it tough to be objective about them because I’m such a fan boy. It’s always been a huge part of my movie life and probably always will be so take that for what you will. With the new Andor tv show coming out soon, Rogue One was rereleased in theaters to promote it and that’s not something I can pass up. So here’s Rogue One: A Fanboy’s Review.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has nothing. The Empire has taken her freedom, her choices, and her family. After her mother was killed and her father (Mads Mikkelsen) was abducted by the empire, Jyn was conscripted into the freedom fighting corps lead by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Growing up with hardened soldiers and tacticians, Jyn has become disenfranchised with the rebellion and strikes out on her own only to end up in Imperial prison. When an imperial pilot defects to Saw’s army, the rebellion seeks out Jyn and free her from prison in order to gain an introduction with Saw.
Jyn goes along with the rebellion’s wishes so that she can guarantee her freedom. After getting the rebellion their audience with Saw, she learns that her father is alive. Not only has he built a weapon of unimaginable power called the Death Star, but he has also hidden a secret and catastrophic flaw inside it. Jyn realizes she can’t just ignore the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known any longer and throws in her lot with the rebellion. Working with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), she leads a group of rebels to the Imperial base on Scarif to steal the plans to the Death Star.
Leading directly into the events of A New Hope, Rogue One is an excellent prequel and it needed to be. It sent audiences back nearly 40 years to 1977 with original Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, and CGI faces of original characters. Expanding on throw away lines and filling in the gaps in canon history, director Gareth Edwards provided audiences with grit, attention to detail, and fan service. Each scene is chock full of background characters and references that only eagle eyed fans would notice.
Starring Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Rogue One has a strong main character lead that shares the spotlight with Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor. Jones and Luna are at each other’s throats until the tension has reached a boiling point in the story and they resolve their differences. While their fate is sealed before the movie even starts, the acting and writing still makes their characters interesting and worth investing in.
There are a host of side characters, like Alan Tudyk’s K2-S0 and Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe that fill in the usual roster spots and they do so marvelously. The same can be said for Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook and Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerera. Saw in particular is a huge live action addition because of his presence in the animated Clone Wars. There are so many other characters that pop up throughout the movie that it’s impossible to list them all and that’s what makes it so fun to watch.
There are so many visual treats in Rogue One and it feels like a fan was involved in each scene, saying “what if we did this or that”. Those question and ideas made the movie feel so alive, which is something the sequel trilogy lacked considerably. The archive footage of Red Squadron in particular helped blend the gaps between 1977 and 2016. It made me want to go and thrown on the original trilogy for the millionth time, which I consider to be a great thing. When a movie makes me want to spend more time in that world, it has succeeded in suspending my disbelief and providing me with true entertainment.
The sight and sound of Rogue One contributes significantly to my enjoyment of the overall movie. It has that gritty lived in feel. The weight of the Empire crushing the common folk is ever present through hulking star destroyers and battalions of storm troopers walking the streets. The sound of it all felt real and heavy, with John Williams triumphant original score peeking through composer Michael Giacchino’s work at all the right moments.
I promised to be objective and here’s where that starts. Rogue One is not perfect and I recognize the fan service aspects of it. At times it felt lazy, like they writer’s room just crawled through old fanfic posts. It is not always a great idea to give fans every single thing that they want because it doesn’t challenge them to think differently or learn anything. it also creates a bunch of whiny neckbeards who harass creators and actors for having different interpretations of the source material (looking at you, Kenobi).
Jyn’s character arc is a little dull and there are moments throughout where the supporting cast has some awkward dialogue that leads to poor performances. They are few in number, but jarring nonetheless. As I mentioned above, seeing all the cool background characters return is neat to a point and at about the 90 minute mark, my arm got tired from pointing at all the stuff that I spotted.
Rogue One is without a doubt one of the best things that Disney has done with the Star Wars license since they purchased it. While I don’t enjoy one company owning every single property under the sun, I’m glad that Disney at least has the coffers to fund so many projects and still takes small risks with it, even if they don’t pay off for most audience members (TLJ & TROS).