Nutshell: Rogue One is definitely a rock ’em, sock ’em story worthy of the Star Wars ‘verse. But it doesn’t have that same charismatic pull that the original trilogy had. Dunno if that should be held against it, as very few films could match that pull. Still, Rogue is a fun ride with just enough easter eggs to have fans bouncing, while noobs can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Grade: B+
“Tell me you have a backup plan.”
Story: Ever wonder how the Rebel Alliance got those plans for the original Death Star in A New Hope? Well, here’s how.
Genre I’d put it in: Action Adventure With Droids and Darth
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Orignal: Um…do you really not know? Fine; this is the first “spin-off”, non-Skywalker story in the Star Wars universe. But it does tell the story of how those plans that Leia fed into R2 got to her.
Gotta say: With this first foray into the world of Star Wars offshoots, Rogue One holds up admirably. With a cast that definitely seems to enjoy being a part of the Star Wars universe, costuming and set design that are out of this world (heh), and a director/screenwriter combo that know when to dole out a Star Wars reference, and when to keep focus on their own story.
Without giving plot points away, I’m loving the way that Rogue paints a picture of the Rebel Alliance as not just sunshine, flowers and kumbaya. There’s politicking here, and in order to keep rebelling, there are folks who have to make the hard decisions, and carry out the hard jobs. There are several characters in Rogue who definitely have some tarnish on their soul, and all of that is definitely needed in this story of a rebellion that’s looking for a way to…get to A New Hope. The look at the inner workings of the rebellion, and those who have been in it for years, is fascinating. And that’s all I’ll say about that. Okay one more thing; there’s lots of action here, and it is just as glorious as the original trilogy, and The Force Awakens.
Rogue also provides a nice “missing link” piece from Anakin-becomes-Darth in Revenge of the Sith. Here’s an Empire that – with it’s Death Star – is reaching its pinnacle. A rebellion that’s trying to bring the Empire to its knees. An ancient religion that has been all but forgotten. And a cast that is ready to dig into this new material.
Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso – Our New Heroine – with just the right amount of cynicism and hope. The lion’s share of the story and screen time is on Jyn, but Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Riz Ahmed and Alan Tudyk are a cool new Our Gang…though I would have relished more bonding scenes with them, as we had with Hope. Yen, as blind fighter Chirrut Îmwe, particularly stands out with his amazing martial arts work; a groovy blend of what looks like kali-eskrima, wushu and aikido. It’s quite literally awesome.
But there was a certain joie de droid that was lacking. Maybe it’s that I miss John Williams, and his deft touch with a Star Wars score. Perhaps there’s so much going on – this ain’t the first of a trilogy, it’s a one-shot story – that the faster pace and laser-focus on Jyn didn’t allow for me to really bond with these characters as much as I did with Han, Leia, Luke and the gang. Maybe I was too busy absorbing all the glorious set design detail that I wasn’t focusing on the characters like I should. Then it could be a particular use of CGI that me both amazed and weirdly off-kilter at the same time. Maybe I just need to see it again.
And oh, I’ll see it again. Because while this ain’t no First Trilogy, what the hell could be? Not getting enough time with these characters to make a real connection, to feel that bonhomie I’ve felt before? Feels like a quibble, in the larger scope of the series. Rogue One does what it set out to do; tell a fine story about a rebellion, and the heroes within it. And that’s a timeless story that’s worth a repeat.
Okay, you want one teensy-eensy spoiler? HERE YOU GO (highlight to bring up inviso-text): there’s blue milk y’all. BLUE MILK!!!11!!
#Protip: I saw this in 2D and it was still impressive as hell. So if you must choose between 2D and 3D? Go with whichever one will give you the biggest screen to watch this on. You’ll want to be in the thick of things.