Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One is the first installment to the Star Wars series that isn’t part of the original storyline, it isn’t really even a spin-off of sorts. It’s a strange beast that gives us more insight into the events that led up to A New Hope, the original film. With the series very much needing the strong resurgence it received with The Force Awakens following the dreadful prequels, this feels like another step in the right direction.
Director Gareth Edwards (of 2014’s Godzilla) puts his own stamp on the series here, giving the film the epic scope it needs to tell a fairly contained story. It features what is arguably the best action set piece of the entire series, giving us a glimpse of what trench warfare would be like in the Star Wars universe. The final act of Rogue One is as gritty and intense as anything in the franchise that has come before it and, for that alone, it earns high praise.
Unfortunately not everything is great about the film. While the storyline is solid for the most part, it’s the characters that feel the most short-changed here. This is especially disappointing given the fantastic cast that’s at work here. The main characters played by Felicity Jones and Diego Luna feel almost forgettable even though the writers have tried to give them arcs and great moments. They feel somewhat underwritten in a film that has so much in it. Rogue One introduces new characters left and right and tries to build this “new” world all while paying some notable fan service to the original films. The filmmakers have done a great job here considering the near-impossible task set before them. The main characters feeling a tad underwritten being my main nitpick is really what it is…a nitpick.
What this film does give us is a great new droid in K-2SO and another great villain in Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). K-2SO gets all the great lines here, with him very much being the comic relief in what is a fairly intense and dark film. Mendelsohn, who’s quickly building an impressive body of work, is once again fantastic here. He’s sniveling, evil, and heartless in a way we haven’t really seen before in the series. There are a number memorable characters in Rogue One that are fun to watch and the actors are superb in the roles. Forest Whitaker and Donnie Yen are indeed standouts who do the most with their limited screen time.
Overall, this is a solid addition to the Star Wars series, a notable one that will have you watching A New Hope with a new outlook. While the film jumps around a bit in the beginning before it gets the team together, it more than makes up for it with the last 45 minutes or so. Fans of the series will go absolutely nuts walking out of this one, with it really ending on the highest of notes.
Runtime: 2 hours, 13 minutes