Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars film to be set outside the Episodic Sagas. Being the first anthology film, there was a lot of pressure on it to perform extremely well and it delivered. Directed by Gareth Edwards, the film stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Ben Mendelsohn as Director Orson Krennic, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, Mads Mikkelson as Galen Erso, Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus, and returning to voice Lord Darth Vader, James Earl Jones.
Rogue One focuses on specifically the war aspect of Star Wars. Unlike the other Star Wars films, where they focused on being a space opera, this was completely different in tone. It was something we have never really gotten in the Star Wars universe. With the war theme, we got an overall darker tone than we are used to, and it really suited the story they were telling. We never have experienced the war side of Star Wars because the stories have always been focused on a force user rather than the events around them. Because there are no Jedi, we got to see more of the Rebellion and the Empire and the battle that is taking place between The Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The cinematography and look of this film are different as well from the normal Star Wars films.
While I did enjoy the film a lot but I couldn’t emotionally connect with these characters. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked Jyn, Chirrut, and K-S2O but the other characters weren’t impressing me. Cassian was a bit of the dull side and other members of the team were quite forgetful. To me, Star Wars was always about the emotional connection you get with the characters. From Luke to Obi-Wan to Darth Vader to Rey, I was moved emotionally and had an instant connection. I just didn’t get this with the Rogue One squadron. Also, Ben Mendelsohn as Director Orson Krennic was okay. Ben Mendelssohn is a great actor but he wasn’t given enough for me. Nothing he does was truly menacing. But thankfully for the third act, this movie jumped from good to almost amazing.
After two very good acts, the third act blew me away. From the landscape (director Gareth Edwards definitely knows how to capture these huge set pieces perfectly) to the score composed by Michael Giacchino, everything was established perfectly. Some of the best battles we ever saw in the Star Wars saga. From space to the ground, this where the theme of war was at an all time high. Yes, even the deaths of every main protagonist. They send the plans to the rebels in time and the base where they all get’s grazed by the death star’s low powered shot (still like a massive nuclear explosion). So anyone who didn’t die earlier certainly didn’t survive that. There were a lot of heroic deaths before that and a couple cliched scenes where someone dies in their arms saying their last words. The ending where everyone dies was actually one of the best scenes in the film. It felt emotionally impactful and satisfying. The team did what they set out to do. And while they were staring at a certain death, they knew they had accomplished something extremely important. The CGI was done pretty damn well. Grand Moff Tarkin was brought back to life, it looked pretty good for most of the film and they were able to turn back the clock for Princess Leia. And don’t get me started on Darth Vader. The last scene with Darth Vader brutalizing the other rebels was something straight from the Battlefront games. It was not only the best scenes in the Star Wars universe but it will probably go down as one of the best scenes in the history of film.
I really enjoyed this film and I left the theater with my fiancee in such awe and excitement. While the characters of Rogue One weren’t amazing, they represented us, the normal people. They fought against this terrible establishment and its instruments of destruction, despite lacking any special abilities, because they chose to try and improve things. I don’t think any other Star Wars film has so successfully portrayed the realities of life in this galaxy and what the Rebels were up against. And, at the end, when Vader shows up, the terror he brings upon the rebellion is fantastic. While Rogue One wasn’t my favorite Star Wars film, it is a great start for the anthology films and a movie that all Star Wars fans can enjoy.
SUPERSAM RATING: 9/10.