Plot: 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.
Review: Here it is, the first ever Star Wars anthology movie: Rogue One. What is an anthology movie you might ask? It’s a movie that separates itself from the saga films(Episodes I-VII), but still takes place in that galaxy so far, far away. Remember in A New Hope, during the opening crawl? It mentions that:
“During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”
This is a movie that expands on that specific event. We meet a new group of heroes who forever help change the galaxy. The main star of Rogue One is Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones. She is the daughter of scientist Galen Erso aka the man who developed the super weapon known as the Death Star. Plot twist though – Galen Erso is actually helping the Empire against his will, but since he is building their ultimate weapon, why not build the ultimate flaw? Yes, Galen Erso is the reason why us Star Wars fans have been debating for decades, “How in the hell can there be a flaw in the Death Star that can actually blow the whole thing up?!”. I highly suggest you read the book Catalyst, which is a Rogue One prequel that helps flesh out the characters of Galen Erso, bad guy Director Orson Krennic, and Galen’s wife Lyra.
The Rebellion saves Jyn from the Empire and asks her if she can help them talk to Saw Gerrera(Yes, from the animated show The Clone Wars). It was nice to see Saw back especially since he is the first character developed from a show to appear in a live action movie. There was a scene that I didn’t like too much which had Saw use some type of tentacled monster to see if rogue pilot Bohdi Rook was being truthful. Pretty pointless.
The band of rebels themselves were great. My two favorites were Chirrut Imwe(Donnie Yen) and droid K-2SO. It’s too bad we didn’t get much of a backstory of any of the rebels other than Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor(played by Diego Luna), but I can see why. The Force Awakens in my opinion had better characters than Rogue One, but we will be with them for the next couple of movies. The characters in this story were just created to serve the purpose of the story, so it didn’t matter if we knew about them or not. Plus – they all die in the end. That was the main question we were all asking when they announced this movie. We seen none of these characters in the original trilogy, so what else would have happened to them? They died as heroes and sacrificed themselves for the greater cause. Thank you to Disney for doing the right thing, while also making this the first Star Wars movie NOT aimed at kids. This is a gritty war movie with lots of violence and deaths.
Let’s talk about the villains now. Director Orson Krennic(Ben Mendelsohn) is our main villain in this even though we have both Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin in this(we’ll talk about them later). No sign of Emperor Palpatine, but he is heavily referenced throughout the film. In Catalyst, we learn that Krennic and Tarkin have some type of rivalry within the Empire so it’s nice to see that on screen as well. Mendelsohn is great here playing Krennic as a villain with many flaws. Everything he does, he does it so he can get the Emperor’s approval and be on his good side. So, we see him go from strong and will powered, to weak and insecure when Tarkin says he will take the credit for the Death Star. What Disney did with Tarkin was incredible. They CGI’d late actor Peter Cushing’s face and what could have easily been a disaster ended up being great. Yes, you can tell it’s CG, but it was very important to do that since this movie ends moments before A New Hope.
If you are walking in this hoping that Darth Vader is a main player in Rogue One – you will be disappointed. He is only in two scenes – 1. When Krennic goes to Mustafar to get Vader’s approval, and 2. The very end when Vader and crew plan a “boarding party”. That last scene may be one of the best scenes in any of the Star Wars films, and easily the best including the character of Darth Vader. THIS IS THE DARTH VADER FANS HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR. That final scene mimics a horror movie with Vader killing a whole bunch of rebels WITH his red lightsaber. This is Vader in his prime. And that final scene with Vader looking on as the Tantive IV escapes(with a CGI’d Princess Leia on board) is the perfect ending for this movie.
Now – let’s talk all of the references to the old films, the prequels, and even the TV shows. These are the moments where all of the real Star Wars fans will clap during the movie. Hell, I even clapped when we seen a cup of blue milk in the beginning which is obviously a reference to Luke Skywalker’s favorite drink. Jyn and Cassian even run into Ponda Baba and Dr. Cornelius Evazan on the planet Jedha. A lot of people clapped in the theater I was in for those two. My favorite were the references to Star Wars Rebels(one of my favorite shows on Disney). We see The Ghost which is the main starship piloted by the team and we even hear on Yavin 4 a call for a “General Syndulla” which can easily be a reference to Hera. The Hammerhead corvettes used at the end of the film were actually stolen for the Rebellion by the Ghost crew in the show as well! When you are deeply invested in Star Wars lure and not just the movies, you appreciate all the easter eggs and references even more.
Alright, even though I’ve been talking about all the stuff I loved – Rogue One wasn’t a perfect movie. I did not like the score as it wasn’t the classic John Williams score we all know and love. But I don’t put the blame on composer Michael Giacchino as he only had 4 weeks to compose the score. Another thing I didn’t like – NO OPENING CRAWL. I know, it was announced that they wouldn’t be having one, but I feel if any Star Wars movie needed a opening crawl – it was Rogue One. It could have explained everything that happened prior to the film, and it would have helped a lot of casual fans know the timeframe this movie takes place. A few other things I didn’t like were just some of the dialogue especially where Jyn tells Krennic at the end that she is stealing the plans of the Death Star because there is a flaw in the design that can blow the whole thing up. WHY….WOULD YOU SAY THAT TO THE BAD GUY?! Yeah they all died in the end, but she obviously didn’t know that. Just little stuff like that bugged me.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is definitely catered to the true fans of Star Wars. Whether it’s the sound effects of the Death Star, to seeing Red Leader and Gold Leader back in the Rebellion fleet(we learn how Luke takes on the name Red 5 as well), the hardcore fans will love this. So many quick things happen that will fly over the common fan’s head, but the true fan will love and appreciate it. In my opinion – I think Rogue One was better than The Force Awakens and I really enjoyed Episode VII. This film just had a way better story especially since TFA mirrored A New Hope. The space battle at the end of Rogue One is for sure in the top space battles of all time. I’m giving Rogue One a 8.5/10.