So in case you’ve been living under a rock, Disney is now in control of Star Wars and they’re pumping out a new movie every year (for at least the next four years). Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first spinoff film in the series, has now been released. In case you weren’t aware, the film is about how the rebels acquired the plans to the Death Star prior to A New Hope. Now let’s get to my immediate takeaways now that I’ve seen the film.
Ho. Ly. Shit. This is the only spinoff film planned (so far) that I was hyped for, the next two being about Han Solo and Boba Fett respectively, and it absolutely delivered. As the movie got closer, I found myself getting much more hyped for this movie than I anticipated. The concept of the Rebel Alliance accomplishing their goal at the expense of obliteration by Darth Vader and the Empire was just way too good to not be excited for it.
It’s easy to come right out and say that this movie is a top movie in the series (just like it was when I said it about The Force Awakens a year ago and like I’ll probably do when Episode VIII releases next year). It’s not perfect and it’s certainly not a traditional Star Wars film, but it was damn good. I don’t think the declarations that it’s the “best installment since The Empire Strikes Back” are too far off.
The movie is effectively split into three acts. I’m sure the majority of people won’t be crazy about the opening act of the movie; there’s a lot of hectic jumping around as the movie rapidly attempts to introduce characters and get the plot points in line. I didn’t have too much of a problem following it but I could definitely understand why some people might. There was a lot of text put on the screen to identify planets and locations, which definitely felt unnecessary. Schizophrenic is probably the best word to describe it. But the story settles down in the second act and really sets the stage well for the climax of the movie.
The third act of this movie, my god. I would describe it as arguably the best stretch in any Star Wars movie to this point. Even knowing the outcome, it was incredibly tense, emotional and well executed. Rogue One did a tremendous job in honoring the original trilogy and using those classic assets to create something new. Some might describe the third act as a bit drawn out but I loved it the whole way through. This was a suicide mission and Rogue One made it feel like one. The entire act was locked in the middle of a complete war zone.
For the first time in a while, Star Wars felt really gritty. This wasn’t a happy little Disney adventure; this was a dirty and dangerous war movie. There were no floaty lightsaber battles or small scale fights. This was large battles, dirt, gunfire, explosions, you name it. It’s so cliché to compare anything war related to Saving Private Ryan but this really felt like a blend between the two movies. The battle in space was great as well. Hell I didn’t even know we were getting a space battle until something like a month ago. This movie wasn’t a case of the good guys going up against terrible odds and coming out on top either. The good guys matched up against a vastly superior opponent and the entire battle felt that way the whole way through; as it should.
I loved all the characters. Each character felt unique, it didn’t feel like any of the characters were supposed to be like a new Han Solo or a new Obi Wan. They were simply just new characters. K-2S0, the imperial droid belonging to our heroes, was certainly an exception here as it was effectively a new C-3P0 but I actually kind of like him better if we’re being honest. Jyn Erso was a very good main character largely because she was just simply a person in the Star Wars universe, there wasn’t anything that made her any better than anyone else. Orson Krennic was an excellent and easy to hate villain. And I don’t even need to explain how awesome it was having James Earl Jones back as Darth Vader.
Once the movie got going, it was an incredibly enjoyable experience. The references and tie-ins to past movies was seamless, it was very easy to connect the dots once you heard a particular line. The comic relief spread throughout the movie was humorous without feeling obnoxious or forced, which was great. And for the more hardcore fans in the crowd, there were plenty of little easter eggs throughout the movie.
Overall, my complaints with the movie really boil down to some smaller nitpicky things. There was one scene in particular that I thought felt a tad unnecessary and cheesy but it was really the only thing I didn’t like. There were two primary things I wanted going into this movie and I got them both, so I’m satisfied. The opening to the movie was definitely new without the traditional crawl, which was fine, but the way the title screen was introduced was kind of weird. I’m just sort of rambling at this point but these are just my first impressions of the movie. I thought it was great and absolutely worth watching so go check it out. I’m sure I’ll expand on my thoughts as I see the movie more times over the coming weeks.
Oh, and that final scene. Holy Jesus.