Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

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So full disclosure, I am not going to be reviewing this movie in how it pertains to other Star Wars films or other works. I did not grow up watching Star Wars, I’m sure I would have if we had the films because my mom loves them, she tried to get me to watch them with her, but it would always be on tv and always be in the middle of the movie and that’s lame. I’d seen bits and pieces but never the whole thing. So, I did a marathon last year to prepare for The Force Awakens and I must say I really like them, but I don’t have nostalgic ties, nor do I know everything. So this review is going to be solely on this film, I may mention the ties I noticed but nothing serious.
Summary: The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of characters in this film, but I’m only going to talk about the six that are on the poster up top. I may mention other people as “secondary characters” but the ones up top are the most interesting.
  • Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. When we first meet her, she’s a kid and she witnesses some stuff with her parents. Years later, she is being detained by the Empire but the Rebels free her. She is first “employed” because they want her to use her relationship with someone to get them close. I think she was an interesting character, she was very reactive to things, everything that happened drove her forward because of her reactions to them. It may not have been until later but it was mostly reactive. I really like Felicity Jones, I think she’s a great actress and I liked her in this role, I think Jyn could have easily been unlikable but Felicity maintains a likability about her.
  • Diego Luna as Cassian Andor. He was interesting, I mean of his first scenes was a bit…curious. He said a few things of his background but I would have liked to known more about him. He is a Rebel Alliance Captain and intelligence officer. He spends most of the film working alongside Jyn to take care of a mission provided by the counsel and while he does seem to make some choices that are probably different than what he might have done in the beginning, and he does go “rogue” to do a mission, he ultimately stays the same… I think Diego Luna had a bit of gravitas with this character which works for Cassian.
  • Alan Tudyk as K-2So. An imperial enforcer droid who has been reprogrammed for the Alliance. He is the source for most of the humor in the film, it’s mostly a dry wit, which I think isn’t for everyone. I love dry wit so he was funny to me, but a lot of times people didn’t laugh in my theater so it will depend. I like his loyalty to Cassian and their friendship. He does start off disliking Jyn and some of his comments to her are hilarious. His design is also great because he’s so tall and he looks kind of scary.
  • Riz Ahmed as Bohdi Rook. I think he was my favorite out of the group because I’d say he makes the most change out of everyone. He was also interesting. He was an Imperial cargo pilot and defects to the Rebel Alliance to deliver a message from Galen Erso. He goes through it a bit at the beginning due to his previous job with the Empire, but I think he was very useful to the group. He starts off a bit neurotic and almost like he’s scared of everything that’s going to happen and while he maintains that neuroticness,  I think he does a 180 by the end. I also think Riz Ahmed helped a lot with him because again, he could have been annoying and whiny but I think Riz is so cute and endearing that I loooved Bohdi.
  • Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe.  He’s a blind warrior who believes in the Force. He is said to be one of the Guardians of the Whills. I liked him a lot, he was also one of the funnier characters, due to his blindness, he is able to do things that he shouldn’t which makes it awesome. He kicks butt! Donnie Yen does a great job with this character, he could have easily fallen into that stereotypical mystical blind dude but I think with his humor and his camaraderie with Baze it helped prevent that.
  • Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus. Rebel warrior, mercenary and best friend of Chirrut and while I liked him and his little machine gun like blaster, he really was just there but I liked his camaraderie with Chirrut.
Secondary characters. 
  • Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera. A veteran of the Clone Wars who had mentored Jyn in her later childhood years. He’s like this cyborg, or something, he’s in a metal suit of armor. He’s a bit eccentric, like he’s lost his mind and that makes him scary in a way. Unhinged but it was obvious to tell that he cares about Jyn and her family. Forest Whitaker is a great actor, he can definitely be intimidating and scary and it works here.
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic. The Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, he’s a little egocentric grubber. Good job Ben, you’re slimy lol. His scene with Darth Vader was great and hilarious!
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso. Jyn’s father and a research scientist… I think this is the first time he wasn’t a straight up “bad guy”. I liked him a lot, we didn’t see enough of him really. But he loves his family, tries to protect them, he makes choices in hopes that he can atone for his mistakes. I really liked Mads here.
Darth Vader. Due to the fact that I did not grow up with this character, he’s never been that scary to me, at least next to Lord Voldemort, The Wicked Witch of the West and Sauron etc but I think this is the first time where I was like… whoa. He definitely has more than a cameo but his moments on screen are pretty great. He makes this pun that made me chuckle. You’ll know what I mean, it’s a legit pun. Also, his scene at the end where it’s all dark, you hear his breathing and then BAM his red lightsaber cuts through the darkness. Ah man, that was awesome. Um… spoiler? lol I don’t think so though. PLUS James Earl Jones provides his voice again.
The action. Of course with a film like this, the action is a big thing and I think it was awesome. Especially in the last act. That whole scene on the Scarif planet was AWESOME!
The Dark/Gritty feel. Due to the fact that this film is set before A New Hope and after Revenge of the Sith it puts the atmosphere in a slightly darker and grittier realm. Not saying the other films don’t have dark elements, they do, but this one doesn’t have a lightness to it, which I think sets it apart, especially with it being a standalone and not part of the “Skywalker” saga.
The Stakes. I was debating whether or not this was a pro or con, but it’s really both. We already know what happens, if you’ve seen A New Hope, we know they ultimately succeed in getting those Deathstar plans and I think that elevates what Rogue One does. The fact that they risk their lives for this and obviously we win because we know, but still, it’s kind of amazing.
Cons:
The music. While I liked it, it didn’t hold a candle to John Williams. When the title card came on, there was this kind of sort of “Star Wars” theme and I was like meh… ya’ll should have just used the actual Star Wars theme.
The Stakes. I was debating whether or not this was a pro or con, but it’s really both. We already know what happens, if you’ve seen A New Hope, we know they ultimately succeed in getting those Deathstar plans and I think that elevates what Rogue One does. HOWEVER it’s BECAUSE we know what happens, it was kind of hard to worry if they were going to succeed in getting the plans or not. So it’s a pro because we now know what it took but it’s also a con because while watching it, I’m not really worried about them failing to get the plans.
**Bor Gullet Scene. Okay, so I’m going to try not to spoil much but I don’t really think this is much of a spoiler because it’s not that important to the story. So there is this weird “torture” scene where Bohdi is captured by Saw Gerrara and they want to make sure he isn’t lying so they use this weird tentacle creature to see into his mind. Now, I wouldn’t have minded this scene much if there was actually an effect to what was done. I mean I get it, it shows that Saw will do anything and it’s creepy etc etc but it’s literally like 30 seconds and they cut away, now if we actually saw the torture then the small effect we saw later could be enough. But since we didn’t the little amount of lingering effects we saw did not match up to what Saw said could happen. Bohdi seemed to be in a daze and seems to snap out of it quickly. If there wasn’t going to be a payoff then why? Just cut it out. I’m sure it would have been more effective if Saw’s subordinates just physically beat him, the way Bohdi seemed in the beginning, I’m sure that would answer any questions they had about his truthfulness. Weird scene, also… tentacles lol. I actually want to see how that was filmed on the day because it was so awkward.
One Dimensional characters. While I liked everyone for the most part, I don’t think there was anything to them outside of what we saw, we didn’t particularly see any character growth. Sure, I think you can argue that they may have been more accepting of things by the end, but I don’t think anyone particularly changed from what they were in the beginning. No one is really compelling I think. There were chances for some of them to be but I don’t think it ever really went there. The actors may have tried but the script didn’t seem to want to let them.
The CGI on original characters. Without spoiling who the are, there are two characters from the original trilogy who are in the film, one quite often and the other… well but since they’re not how they were in the 70s etc, they used CGI to make them look young and it was just so weird. When their both first showed I went “eww weird…” almost in the uncanny valley. Unsettling.
Starts off slow. I think the movie takes a minute to get it’s legs under it, I don’t think it really picks up until more than halfway through the film.
Overall, I really liked Rogue One, I think it’s a great addition to the Star Wars story in general. I liked the characters enough, even if they were all a bit one dimensional, I liked the dark feel to the story. I liked the inclusion of Darth Vader, he definitely lives up to that “one of the scariest villains of all time” thing, great to hear James Earl Jones’ return. I think the action was handled very well, especially in the last act of the film. I liked the camaraderie between the group and I think they all worked well together. I didn’t particularly care for the music in this one, it’s definitely not as memorable even though it seemed to want to be, I thought the CGI on some characters dipped into the Uncanny Valley BUT it’s definitely fun.
Rating: 3.80 out of 5 stars. 
Did you see Rogue One? Did you like the adventure? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!
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**I added that in today 12/27/16 because it came to mind when I was rereading my review. I totally forgot about that random scene!
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