Film Review : Rogue One - A Star Wars Story

Andrew Stephens, Saturday the 31st of December, 2016 in Films, Science Fiction

Rogue One PosterA young woman, Jyn Erso, unwillingly becomes a pawn in the Rebel Alliance's battle with the Galactic Empire when the rebels learn that her father is helping the empire construct a super weapon. However zoom, zoom, pew pew pew, kaboom, zap...

One of the things that has bugged me about the Star Wars films up until now is that, in an galaxy-spanning conflict we only saw the same 5 or 6 characters and their bratty children. I was hoping that The Force Awakens would broaden the scope of the SW universe instead we just got a continuation of the Skywalker family drama.

So I was stoked when Rogue One was announced - finally a story about someone new! And Rogue One is an entertaining film, with good action and a thick smothering of Star Wars aesthetics over a gritty, PG13 war movie core. I enjoyed it.

Rogue One is not really the kind of movie that spoilers will ruin, but stop reading if you care and haven't seen the film yet. Otherwise...

Spoilers lie beyond the AT-ATs
Spoilers lie beyond the AT-ATs

There is a trend in film-making towards making characters (especially young adult characters) essentially blank-slates with few distinguishing features or quirks. I think it is supposed to allow the audience to project themselves into the characters but it always leaves me feeling disconnected. I would rather see a strongly defined character that I hated than a agreeably bland loaf of white bread. Unfortunately, all the characters in Rogue One fall into the latter category.

I was never sure what Jyn was supposed to be, in some scenes she is a nihilistic loner, in others the most idealistic person in a room full of rebel veterans. There was no progression between these viewpoints and her devotion to her father (a man she hadn't seen in 15 years) seemed forced.

Likewise, Cassian is introduced as a rather cut-throat, get-the-job-done resistance agent but ends up just a standard generic good guy who can't do the eminently sensible but morally dubious task he was explicitly ordered to do.

Rogue One dutifully introduces each character with a rote little sceneJyn's rescuing of the little girl during a firefight was particularly tacked on to tell us that they are brave/thoughtful/duplicitous/etc but then frustratingly gives all the leads interchangeable dialog and plot lines. The minor characters do provide a little color but only the blind monk and his mercenary caretaker really stand out.

Having said that, once Rogue One gets the setup out of the way (about halfway through) and gets on with the action set pieces then things improve immensely. The final assault to get the Death Star plans was a glorious pastiche of war movies combined with spy movie trills. Frankly, it was better put together than anything in the original Star Wars films.

I didn't find Rogue One as engaging as The Force Awakens as a story, but it works well enough as an excellent (if disposable) piece of action fluff.

Some things I liked:

Some things I didn't like:

Anyway, I enjoyed Rogue One : A Star War Story. For those who think they can stomach it, I wrote piece on the politics of the film.