Finally, the much anticipated Star Wars prequel hit theaters this December, satisfying fans’ appetites for a deeper look into the events that led to the Resistance acquiring the plans for the dreaded Death Star.
Let me tell you that I’m a big Star Wars fan. When I was little, I was obsessed. I loved the Ewoks, had a Star Wars toy collection, my brother and I would pretend to shoot each other with blasters and Princess Leia was always a source of empowerment for me while growing up. When I found out about this addition to the Star Wars franchise, my feelings were cautious with a lot of excitement thrown into the mix. Rogue One would have to really deliver to make me love it since Force Awakens was a gem to me (and probably one of my favorites – yes I know these are fightin’ words to some Star Wars fans), but I digress.
Rogue One takes place shortly before the events of A New Hope, following a ragtag crew of misfits across a galaxy far, far away in an effort to fight against the Empire. The main character, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), starts out as a jaded rebellious youth who doesn’t seem to give a crap about how bad things are due to the Imperial Force’s strong grasp on the galaxy. After meeting the militant lunatic Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and receiving a message from her Death Star scientist, father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), Jyn does a complete 180 in personality when she gives herself the mission to find daddy and later steal the plans for the Death Star. Along the way, she finds help in a variety of other colorful characters while desperately clinging on to hope. Jyn is later joined by Rebel intelligence officer – and potential love interest that never really happened – Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); blind, fighter monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen); gun-toting, armor-wearing Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen); looney, defector pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and a reprogrammed Imperial droid named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).
It was very refreshing to see such a diverse cast in Rogue One which is something I’ve noticed we are seeing more of in these types of genres lately. The characters (and there were a lot of them) all seemed to have their own unique personalities and talents which made for interesting interactions throughout the movie. However, I felt like the main characters, Jyn and Cassian, came across as boring and in some cases annoying while some of the supporting characters took the spotlight. I ended up caring mostly for Mads Mikkelsen’s character throughout the film even though I knew his fate was sealed. This could be due to having the pleasure of meeting Mads at last year’s San Diego Comic Con and not only is he an amazingly kind person but I was very excited to see him in this role. Other characters who were fun to watch were the Jedha duo Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus. They had legit fighting skills but I wanted to see more of them throughout the movie. Of course what Star Wars movie doesn’t have an awesome supporting character that is a droid? K-2SO was great when he was actually on-screen and added a lot of much needed comic relief with his snarky comments. And finally, we can’t forget about Darth Vader making his small appearances while at the height of his power. In general, I felt like I saw less of the characters I wanted to see and saw more of the characters I didn’t care about.
Rogue One definitely did not disappoint with its amazing special effects and glorious soundtrack. Despite the stunning visual effects, the CGI of Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing, who passed in 1994) felt awkward enough that I wondered why the character was in the film at all. They could have gotten away without him actually CGed in the movie despite his integral role in the Empire. Perhaps he could have called in on a device or have been a hologram? The scenes of the final battle between the Imperials and the Resistance on planet Scarif were jaw-dropping. AT-ATs and the Imperial Forces attacked the supposedly few, but seemingly endless, amount of Resistance fighters while Jyn valiantly attempted to steal the plans. The scenery and action was awesome to watch and at this point so late in the story, the movie actually started to feel like Star Wars. Darth Vader’s terrifying scene at the end only added to the feeling while leading right up to the starting events in A New Hope.
What really irked me about this movie is that everything felt rushed. The feeling of being bounced around to various locations without any real explanation was difficult to keep track of. The viewer is never given enough time to learn about the characters and places they are encountering. Characters are not really explored and perhaps this is because all of the new characters meet their end on Scarif (for very stupid reasons in some cases). This movie felt like it was trying too hard to be dark, but it failed because at that point the audience was not given enough time or information to care about the characters.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did feel like a Star Wars movie but only about two-thirds of the way in. It did not disappoint as an action-packed adventure but I feel that it has suffered as part of the franchise. It felt like something was terribly missing and I’m not sure if that was due to the strange pacing, the lackluster main characters or the almost instant death of all likeable characters. One thing is certain: I have not rushed to see the film again. I’m sure I will watch it in the future whenever I decide to watch the entire franchise back-to-back (again for the 100000th time). Force Awakens still remains my favorite in the Star Wars universe while Rogue One, regrettably, is far behind it.