So I had the opportunity to see Rogue One the other day in a quiet afternoon setting, the theater was pretty much empty and I had the back row to myself. To say I was excited for this movie was a bit of an understatement, it’s always been a mystery to me how they really got those pesky Death Star plans that lead to one of the greatest movie sagas in current history.
I’m going to put it out there that this movie is unlike any other Star Wars flick you’ve seen. It’s a war movie through and through, it’s Rebels vs Imperials, its hope vs despair, it’s a piece of media that would show a true representation of how unsightly and ugly war can be at any given time.
To say that Rogue One is a visual spectacle beyond even all other Star Wars movies would be an insult to what was created here. The care taken in the scenes and the sets, was top-notch and burst with personality. We saw alien species both familiar and unfamiliar to most Star Wars fans, we were graced with new planets and cities we have only heard of in passing in other films or books. This movie was truly a bridging piece that cut to the chase and gave us what we wanted, a reason behind A New Hope.
On a level of interesting new characters, this movie had no shortage. Jyn Erso, the daughter of the Imperial scientist Galin Erso creator of the Death Star, embarks on a mission with the rebel alliance to find an old friend, and from there is jettisoned into her Rebel life. From there I won’t say much more on the story for fear of spoiling anything else, but this is where many of the great relationships within this movie begin and end. Jyn, is placed as the lead of the film, a spunky, hardened and disgruntled young woman who has no place in her heart for Imperials or Rebels alike. She was left behind by her family friend at the age of 16 and forced to live a life in solitude pretending as if her previous life no longer existed. As female characters go, she isn’t your atypical, girl meets dude, falls for dude and lets him win the day. In fact, what I enjoyed most about this movie is that the romance aspect was all together removed save for what one might consider such right near the end, but I will leave that alone because, well spoilers. Jyn comes into her own as a leader and a strong personality who deserves recognition within the Star Wars universe and this movie places her in a position to showcase that amazingly.
If we are looking towards supporting case, we need not look far as the newest droid companion seems to steal much of the show. K-2SO, a re-purposed Imperial droid with about as much sass as your 6-year-old daughter graces our presence and quickly became a fan favorite. If I could have replaced C-3PO with him in every movie, I would have, 100% hands down, let’s do this. He also offers much of the candid humor in the flick as well. If you don’t grow to love him by the end of the show, you’re probably also a droid, just sayin’.
One of the things that stands out in this particular Star Wars movie is the lack of Jedi, the Force is discussed but it doesn’t play a central role like it does in other movies and this does a phenomenal job of grounding the story. Without the Force, we see that these people are human, they aren’t blessed with special powers to save the day, they are using their own will, their own ability to get things done against all odds. With that said though, we are introduced to Chirrut Imwe (Donne Yen), a blind monk who lives in the City of Jedah and a preacher of the existence of the Force. He and his companion Baze Malbus make the perfect pairing of rogues who are just trying to mind their own business. Chirrut though, has a sensitivity to the force, meaning he can channel it but not in the same ways a Jedi would. Through his sensitivities though he quickly becomes a lovable and important character.
If there was one thing that bothered me about this whole thing and it felt really off, was the CGI face rendering, now I know only two characters had it, one of them being Moff Tarkin and the other I will not name because… well spoilers. CGI faces are usually fine, but when you know this character from previous movies and know the way they speak, a CGI rendering doesn’t come naturally. In the end, I guess these things are needed for continuity and they make sense in the grand scheme of things but this still bothers me.
While this movie struggles a bit with the first act being slightly disjointed and broken, it all seems to fall in place as act 2 and 3 roll through. Pieces come together and “a-ha!” moments abound, small little easter eggs here and there are sprinkled through the movie make it incredible special for any Star Wars fan and in the end it makes a single cohesive spectacle that I would gladly spend $13-$18 on again.