Written by Nelson Cumming
This review will have a lot of spoilers as my sources of praise and criticism involves the final act. I say this because I am a nice, swell guy.
Rogue One: A Star War Story is one of the most epic-looking spin-offs that I have ever seen. I stress the term “epic-looking” here. That is because it has enough visual effects and good moments combined to make Rogue One a good film. However, there were things that bugged me while watching it.
Rogue One is set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star wars Episode IV: A new Hope. It is a spin-off story that focuses on the destruction of the Deathstar (a weapon that can destroy planets) and the subsequent plans that Erso attempts to steal from the Galatic Empire to give to the Rebel Alliance.
Let’s Start Positive
The two best things about Rogue One are the special effects and the final third of the movie. The special effects in Rogue One are as good as any movie I have seen this year. Rogue One went for huge set pieces and made a blockbuster look epic. There was one shot in a birds-eye view of two massive rebel ships that collide in mid-air which was the best shot in the movie. It is a vivid picture in my head. For a movie to have a moment like that is a huge positive.
The final act in which the Rebel Alliance set off to destroy the Deathstar from the Galatic Empire is by far the best section of the movie. From the espionage of Jyn’s father to the Deathstar’s destruction was nearly all well choreographed and shot. The battle sequences from the supporting characters had a smooth pace and the final battle between Jyn and Orson Krennic was thrilling.
The origin story of Jyn Erso was fine but not great. It would have been noticeably better had I been able to decipher what Forest Whitaker was saying (he spoke very hoarsely and gives the weakest performace of the cast). They developed that origin story into a major plot development. It also helped give Jyn Erso a third dimension to her character when it was needed later on.
Now onto some negatives.
Rogue One really suffers from underdeveloped supporting characters. In one scene, they really bite off more than they can chew. I believe that in Rogue One, the ultimate goal was for us to like all the characters because they have a quirky personality trait or a single moment of depth. This can only get a movie so far and where they wanted to take them was so much further than what was given to them.
A prime example is Donnie Yen’s character, a blind Asian warrior. He has the personality quirk of being able to fight while blind and he has repeats the one line “I am one with the Force. The Force is with me” From that I am supposed to feel a sense of sadness when him and all the other supporting characters (who are just as underdeveloped) when they all die in quick succession.
Instead, I went to my friend and said “Jesus! are there any more people who want to die. This isn’t Game of Thrones you know” That statement was not premeditated. That was my first reaction. After that was when I realized how little I care for the huge stakes the movie was going after. The characters themselves were not terrible but they were not worth the huge threat that was thrust upon them.
Rogue One really suffers from the dragging second act and taking itself too seriously when they didn’t have the characters that could sustain that level of drama. There were lots of little moments throughout Rogue One that worked such as the Darth Vader scenes and the lines the new quirky droid K-2SO says. Since those little things permeated throughout the movie, added with a really good third act, it was enough for me to like Rogue One. ***1/2.