There are special snowflakes out there who will take ANY talk about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as spoilers, so consider this your first warning that I will be talking about things that happen in the film. If you know your Star Wars, nothing in Rogue One will come as a shock, a surprise, or a spoiler. That said, be an adult and chose to read or not for your own reasons.
Simply stated, Rogue One was (to me) better/more enjoyable than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If there is a scale of how good something is based on how many times I grabbed the hand of the person next to me (someone I know, I’m not *THAT* weird) because of something awesome on screen, R1 is at the top of it. While Star Wars is not my TOP fandom, it’s definitely been a lifelong love, and something I still get excited for.
If you want a fun adult way to experience the film, the basic drinking rules are: every time you see a character from another one of the films, take a drink. If a character says a catchphrase from an earlier movie (in whole or in part), take a drink. When you hear “Red Leader Standing By” – finish the glass.
For the uninitiated, Rogue One fits between episodes 1-3 (the prequels) and episodes 4-6 (the originals) and 7 (The Force Awakens). We could call it Episode 3.5, or 3.9 really because of how closely it’s timing fits with 4. Also, don’t go into this film expecting the ‘gentle violence’ we’ve seen previously, this is a goddamn WAR movie. This is Dunkirk but Star Wars style.
Oscar nominee Felicity Jones is Jyn Erso, daughter of Imperial scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). As a child, she sees her mother Lyra Erso (Valene Kane) killed by General Krennick (Ben Mendelsohn), and her father taken into custody by the troops so he can finish his space station project for the Empire. Ok yes, it’s no moon, but apparently Daddy Erso is absolutely imperative to the completion of the Death Star.
Many many years later, an adult Jyn is being held in an imperial prison colony. We never really know why (from the film), but it’s safe to assume she did something bad. She gets busted out by a group of resistance fighters, and taken to the Rebel Alliance on Yavin 4. YAVIN 4 YOU GUYS. She is given the ultimatum of doing a mission for the Rebels (finding her father and bringing him back to them) or going back to prison. She is not, as we are lead to believe from the trailers, immediately gungho about rebelling.
Jyn, along with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), travel to planet Jedha to find Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whittaker) a Rebellion rebel (it’ll make sense when you see it, I promise) who actually raised Jyn after her parents were gone. Gerrera is in possession of Bohdi Rook (Riz Ahmed), an Imperial pilot who has defected from the Empire and is carrying a message for Jyn from Galen regarding a secret weakness in the new battle station.
The LARGE Imperial presence on the planet comes as a surprise to our heroes, and it turns out Jedha was the location of one of the last Jedi Temples before the Empire wiped them out, and has one of the best concentrations of kyber crystals. Kyber crystals are the stones which power lightsabers, and the main power source of the planet killer weapon on the Death Star, so the Empire is stripping the mines bare. This of course makes the local populace unhappy, so a powderkeg is lit and ready to blow at any moment. While walking through the city that still survives, Jyn and Cassian encounter blind Force-believer-but-not-a-Jedi Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and possibly-a-goodguy-Mandalorian Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang). A battle breaks out, and Jyn jumps right into the action with her trusty blaster and riot stick. Chirrut is a badass with a staff vs the Stormtroopers, once again raising the question WHAT THE HELL DOES THEIR ARMOR PROTECT THEM FROM?!? Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut and Baze are captured by Gerrera’s loyals, and taken to him as the skirmish winds down.
As Jyn and Gerrera have a spat upon their reunion, Krennick and GENERAL TARKIN aboard the Death Star move into position to test the weapon on Jedha. As mass destruction lasers down into the planet, Cassian and friends have discovered pilot Bohdi, and Jyn has seen the holographic (of course) message from her father telling her where to find the plans for the Death Star and the weakness contained within. They narrowly escape the planet imploding and head off to find Galen Erso, but Gerrera choses to face the oncoming tidal wave of sand.
Our heroes travel to the next stop, a rocky Imperial planet where Galen’s lab is located. We find out during this bit that Cassian has been sent by the Alliance to assassinate Galen, but he hesitates when his shot is clearest. Krennick shows up to ‘tie up loose ends’ by killing all of Galen’s science team, royally messing up Jyn’s plan of rescuing her father. At the same time this is happening, the Alliance calls in a tactical strike to take out Galen at all costs. The X Wing squadron manages to take out most of the Imperial troops at the landing pad, and Galen.
Jyn, Cassian and co return to the Rebels, and get told by the council their idea to retrieve the Death Star plans is nothing short of a suicide mission, and not one they are prepared to support on the assumption that Galen was telling Jyn the truth about a weakness. They of couse rebel against the Rebels, stealing the Imperial shuttle that brought them back to Yavin 4, and giving the callsign of “Rogue One” before leaving with a platoon of rebel volunteers not afraid to die for the chance to hit the Empire hard.
Scarif, the tropical paradise planet the Empire uses to store ALL THEIR DIGITAL PLANS OF EVERYTHING (real solid planning there, guys), is the destination for Rogue One. I’ll skip over most of the non-action stuff, because this is when the beach battle happens.
The strongest part of the film is the last 20 minutes, both in action sequences and pacing. These are the scenes the audience has been waiting for; space dogfights, Stormtroopers and all the other troopers not hitting nearly enough things, high stakes jumps and catwalk moments, and Darth fucking Vader. This is arguably where the majority of “spoilers” would come in, so I won’t go into detail. I will admit to tearing up, no shame.
SCORE: 4 OUT OF 5, Viewed in IMAX 3d, will most definitely see again
-I could watch these Tie fighter-X Wing dogfights literally all day. The IMAX 3D screening was pretty perfect for appreciating the Top Gun showmanship of the space battle showdowns.
-The ground troops fighting on the beach with the AT-ATs was everything I wanted.
-Things a Star Wars film needs: a comedic relief droid (K-2S0, voiced by Alan Tudyk), a child/parent quest, a wise advisor (good or bad), a very high up jump stunt, and a showdown on a bridge of some sort.
-The CGI characters were stunning. Even though yes, still not perfect (an unnatural tightness to Tarkin’s upper lip when he speaks but seeing as how he’s English, I guess the ‘stiff upper lip’ applies) seeing how far this technology has come is truly awesome.
-Michael Giacchino’s score. If you recall, he stepped in to rewrite/complete the score Alexandre Desplat had previously worked on. There are many call backs to the familiar John Williams themes we know and love, and plenty of new suites that compliment and encapsulate the universe. Giacchino likes his cellos, and the opening sequences on the black sand planet (ladies and gentlemen, the tourism board of New Zealand presents) sound more like his work on LOST, but it fits.
-Darth Vader looks like a 501st reject. In his first scene, his costume is startlingly amature. That may be a little more harsh than I mean it to sound, but, his chestplate is pretty much glued to his shirt. When he walks, the entire panel moves side to side with his hips, rather than the structured position we’re used to seeing on his tabard. His helmet, that symbol of evil and dread, is more laughable than anything else. The lip of the helmet at the neck looks like it’s made from the same rubber as Keaton’s Batman cowl when he rips it at the end of Batman Returns.
-The Script. There are times the dialog gets away from the plot, more words when fewer correct words would do. There is even a moment when Jyn breaks protocol and monologues to the bad guy pointing a gun at her (don’t do this 101).
-Things from the trailers that are NOT in the film:
This shot of Vader. This is NOT how he looks in this scene, as he’s wearing his more recognizable tabard and gorget (neck and shoulder armor), which he DOES NOT wear in this scene with Krennick.
This shot of Jyn and the tie fighter showdown.
Wanna know what Steph from Geekgasm thought? Check out her review:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens worldwide on Friday, December 16th 2016.