Rogue One: The Star Wars movie we have been waiting for (SPOILERS)
Some people think that the measure of a good movie is the number of effects or the cleverness of the script or that it pushes boundaries and goes where no other films have gone. To me, there is only one thing I really want, entertainment. The best films, in my opinion, are those that feel a lot shorter than they are, the ones where you realise you are at the final act and it seems that no more than half an hour has passed. This is why I think Rogue One is so good, I found myself sitting in the cinema knowing we were near the end but for the life of me I could not understanding how that much time could have passed so quickly. On leaving to cinema I started to think about the film a little more and I realised that this was the Star Wars film we have all been waiting for. Before I go on I must say that there will be spoilers (if you had not worked that out from the title of the post!) so if you have not seen the film then DO NOT read on. In fact I will make it all even clearer…
Right, now the large spangly banner is out the way let’s get down to business. Before we go any further I must say I was a lot more excited by Rogue One pre the film’s release than I was The Force Awakens, maybe it was that I knew it was going to feel nostalgic. In some ways this makes me more critical, I was expecting it to be good whereas The Force Awakens came after the prequels in release order and was Disney’s first Star Wars so I was skeptical. I think this high expectation is what makes Rogue One even better in my eyes. Whereas The Force Awakens seemed to be a clone of the other movies, Rogue One really pays homage by including links to the other Star Wars films without allow them to dictate the story. From the blue milk in Galen’s house to cameos such as that from Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba and onto mentions of Obi-wan being in hiding, Rogue One gives you the feeling of nostalgia but not deja vu. Possibly my favourite scene in the whole film is a hark to the past, at the end where Vader brutally kills the rebel soldiers much like he did when he was Anakin Skywalker trying to save his mother from the sand people. All these make your feel part of the Star Wars universe but if you took the scenes or references out of the movie the story would not really be different.
I also like that that the movie is not so much about the Death Star but the band of rebels who are trying to steal the plans. I have read a lot of comments and reviews that complain that it is another Death Star story but I think it works as it takes it from a different angle. I love the way they have explained why the problem with the thermal exhaust port exists, it stops doubters and moaners whining about plot holes. I also think the fact you know this movie is not about destroying the Death Star but a reconnaissance mission makes it a different type of Star Wars film. Another triumph is the lack of Jedi and Sith, it would be so easy to shoe horn in someone like Obi-Wan or Yoda then them leave and say they will not tell anyone or that they will wait for a signal before starting Luke’s training. Instead the film just completely ignores them, bar one mention of Old Ben.
My major concern going into the movie was the introduction of new characters and how they were going to deal with where these were later in the series but the idea of killing them all off is great. It is dark, dark like The Empire Strikes Back was, and ties up any loose ends. The way they kill them all is not an ‘oh and they are all dead or cannot be found,’ type affair, it is a legitimate part of the story line. The characters I was most concerned about were the Death Troopers. Whilst I actually quite like the prequels (ok Attack of the Clones is pretty bad) I did not like the idea that the Clone Troopers were so different from Storm Troopers. Now there are new ones that never existed in the original trilogy. Oh wait, they are Krennic’s personal guard and are all killed along with everyone else. Got it, that is why they are not there.
Another great part of the film for me was that there are parts that are set up that will clearly lead to bits in the new films, particularly the idea of the former Jedi Temple on Jedha. This adds to the mythology and we might hear more about that as Luke has visited the first Jedi Temple. I wonder if Rey’s parents are somehow set up or linked to in Rogue One, we just do not know about it yet. I also love that they have woven the story into the existing films, little touches like having Krennic die and there is an empty chair on the head table on the Death Star and us seeing Red Five be destroyed, the call sign that becomes Lukes.
Also the development of character was good, it really was all about them and not the tech. You really felt for Erso and Andor and could see why they were justified in their decisions even though they came to them from different places. I liked that you had both a strong male and strong female lead, that lots of people could identify with them. I really enjoyed the hints at a relationship between them, that sort of ill fated love, the knowledge there was something special between them, something they almost realised before they were annihilated. My favourite character by far, however, was K-2SO. He was so cocky, sarcastic and clever but also very insecure. I love the way that Star Wars makes droids more than machines and I truly feel that K-2SO is the most human feeling of the lot. I had that Darth Maul moment when he was killed allowing Erso and Andor to get the Death Star plans, I wish he was actually in Episode 7 so they could have kept him for more movies. I love R2, C3PO and BB-8 but K-2 steals the show for me.
That massive love in is not to say that there were not areas of the movie I would change but they were not the large ones involving characters and plot I thought they might be. My main gripes are really that Darth Vader’s voice does not sound quite right, I know it is James Earl Jones but maybe the changes in his voice in third odd years means he may not have been the right man for the job. The CGI versions of Tarkin and Leia were good but they did not quite feel right, maybe they can be revisited in the future as technology advances. Also the title screen looked a bit naff, I understand not going with the classic opening scrawl but it looked a little bit like bad word art to me. A pale recreation of the Star Wars text, it may have been the same font but it did not look right to me. Finally, the soundtrack was good but it was not quite up to John William’s standard. A grade A copy but not quite the real thing. These things I can forgive, they are minor blips in an otherwise excellent movie.
So, Rogue One is definitely a great movie, one of the best I have seen at the cinema for a long time. It is a different sort of Star Wars movie but feels part of the whole saga and ties all the films together. It is definitely worth a watch, a second viewing and buying on Blu-ray. It also makes me more excited for Episode 8. Maybe I was not as excited for Episode 7 as it was all a bit new and I did not know where it was going. Rogue One was safe territory, albeit it one that was executed with aplomb. A Star Wars movie where the Storm Troopers can actually shoot is not a bad thing!