OK, I’ll try to make this brief, although I won’t break my thoughts up into bullet points like I did for The Force Awakens last year. Oh, and as always, there won’t be any major spoilers.
First of all, in case you are not aware, Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance managed to get their hands on the plans of the evil Galactic Empire’s super weapon, the Death Star, plans which they eventually put to very good use in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Overall, I thought Rogue One was a better film than The Force Awakens, even though it doesn’t start off particularly well. The first part of the film jumps around a little bit too much, making it feel more like a TV show more than a feature film. But once things settle down and Rogue One starts marching towards the climax, the film really picks up and becomes as exciting as any of the original trilogy films.
The central characters are all generally interesting and well portrayed. Felicity Jones is great as Jyn Erso: outwardly streetwise, but inwardly vulnerable. K-2SO, the film’s “mascot” droid, played by Alan Tudyk, has all the best lines. And Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen have a lot of great banter and action sequences together as Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus respectively.
But for me the stand-out performance was by Diego Luna, as Cassian Andor. I was expecting Andor to be an enthusiastic and idealistic member of the Alliance, but in fact he is a jaded soldier with questionable morals. And the relationship between Erso and Andor is, at least in the beginning, almost antagonistic. I never thought that was going to case going by what was shown in the trailers… But more on the trailers later.
Now for the drawbacks. Rogue One does have quite a few cameos from characters that appeared in A New Hope, which makes sense as the former is a direct prequel to the latter. But I think most, if not all of them, were unnecessary; as far as I’m concerned they didn’t really add anything to the story. And this even goes for the brief appearances by Darth Vader, as exciting as they were. But I know that many fans would have felt cheated if Vader had not turned up at all in the film, so I understand why they were included. On the acting side of things, I was a bit disappointed by Ben Mendelsohn’s performance, as the villain Orson Krennic. I found it a bit flat. And I felt that Forest Whitaker, as Saw Gerrera, simply didn’t get enough screentime.
So getting back to those trailers… There were an awful lot of trailers for Rogue One but they were all misleading to some degree. Many shots and lines that were shown in them do not appear in the final film. It’s possible that this is because of the well-documented re-shoots that took place earlier this year, but even so, I was amazed by the sheer number of discrepancies. For example (and you might consider this a little bit of a spoiler), my favourite shot from all of the trailers was the one of Jyn Erso advancing, alone, towards a TIE fighter. In fact, liked it so much I made a little parody image of it, which you can see here. However, this never actually happens in the film, so that was a bit of a letdown.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’d know that I’ve been looking forward to Rogue One for a long time and I have to say I was not disappointed. It’s a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon and I plan on going to see Rogue One at least once more in the cinemas. I think the action sequences alone make it worth seeing again on the big screen!
Till next time, au revoir, arrivederci and may the force be with you!