The price of admission is worth it for the last couple minutes of the film alone.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography by Greig Fraser
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker.
I’ve been sitting on this review for a long time, mostly because I wanted to see it more than once before writing out my thoughts on the new addition to Star Wars canon. I did not want to be blinded by my love of Star Wars, diversity, and Diego Luna, as I knew that was a part of my “high” rating, but as time has gone on, the love did not subsidize, if anything, I wanted to see it once more. Yet, it is clearly not a perfect movie, many things needed to be added in order to fit in with the films that come after, the music was not at par, the characters not as in depth, the antagonist was a basic blue Marvel villain. All the while, it felt like a Star Wars film, it was dirty, grimy, it showed a darker side of the Rebellion that is barely present in the previous films, and had characters that we sadly, wanted more of, but know we will not get.
This anthology story occurs right before the events of the original trilogy’s A New Hope, and follows the members of Rogue One on their mission to steal the Death Star plans, in order to give hope to the Rebellion. A group of misfits; a prisoner, an intelligent operative, a defector, a blind temple guardian and his mercenary friend, an Imperial droid, and a couple of Rebellion soldiers join together to pull off the impossible. Much like A New Hope, we are given a scruffy looking film, showing off the true state of war raged planets, and the haggardness of people that have survived for far too long under the guise of murder and war.
Aside from the fantastic cinematography, the characters were the biggest asset, even as they were what most reviewers complained about, pointing out that the droid had the best personality, and everyone else was simply, plain. To me, most were disheveled gems. Captain Cassian was a favoruite, and not just because he was portrayed by Diego Luna, but because even as we were not given any true background to his character (the one line of dialogue he had about his past does not count), what he became is a side of the Rebellion too long in the shadows, the side of the inevitable actions of people with too much in their shoulders, the blurrier line of the good guys. Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen as Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus respectively were also dismissed for their friendship having no definite explanation. This seemed like an odd reason, since many people forget that fans accepted the quickly made friendships between main characters before without much complaint. Luke, Han, and Leia became friends far too quickly for my liking, but it never stopped me from believing they truly cared for one another. Finn and Poe’s friendship was also fairly rushed, and I still found it credible, and adorable. So why would an already established relationship need to be explored more when others were simply left alone? It could be because we are accustomed to the other films fermenting the closeness, while here, we know they are all going to die, and we will not get much more.
The rest of the characters were lacking in development. Jyn Erso, who I know people are claiming was the only one that got any background, I found incomplete. Perhaps a quick looking back to how she lived with Saw Gerrera, and what she did to achieve all of those skills she demonstrates in the fight scenes would have made her character more centered in reality. Bodhi Rook, Galen Erso, and Orson Krennic also needed more development. Simple dialogue was used to introduce them and their goals, and it seemed quite lazy when compared to other main characters. An Imperial pilot that defected over the short time he spent with the mind behind the Death Star could have been so much more than what we got. Krennic’s relationship to Galen and his wife, while they were first working for the Empire could have much more in depth, and playing this relationship as seen more of a betrayal could have been fantastic. Sadly, none of it was explored.
And, K-2SO is my favourite robot, hands down, more than any other shown in the prequels and original series. It also helps he is voiced by Wash.
Regardless, the cinematography is the best part of the entire film. With the magic that made it seem more realistic being the origin story. In the beginning we are shown this dirty farm-like place, with unkempt characters, and suddenly, we are years ahead, yet it is clear that the murkiness of the first couple scenes and the quickly shown events are presented in the face of the main character and the sight around her, with this sort of imagery being used for every major character throughout the length of the film. The visuals for the ships and uniforms, which could have been modernized in order to be more aesthetically pleasing, were kept to look like the originals. It felt like they were taken out of the original movie, and it drove me even more into the story.
However, the score was disappointing, which is hard for me to say, due to my love of Michael Giacchino’s previous works, and my hope that some of Alexandre Desplat’s genius had managed to somehow slipped through a couple of tracks. The music not disastrous or horrendous, but it lacked the memorability of the revolutionary composer of the original series, John Williams. Even as Williams’ anthems were used to be part of the soundtrack by mixing with Giacchino’s songs, they did not excite me as much as I wanted them to. But I cannot fault the composer much, due to the short amount he had to construct the music. I am just disenchanted with the lack of effects it had.
Rogue One might not be as great as The Force Awakens, but it helped expand the universe, give a basis to some plot holes from previous films, it introduced us to some interesting characters, raised the stakes for Luke’s success, created beautiful visuals, and even, simply, entertained. I will pick this movie above the entirety of the prequels any day.