Rogue One – Spoiler Free Review
I saw Rogue One this morning and it surprised me. I was expecting a fun popcorn film, with a lot of action, set in a galaxy far far away, but I was also expecting there to be problems with this movie and whilst the first half an hour of Rogue One is a little bit slow, the rest of the movie was amazing.
Rogue One is a prequel, and whilst prequels have quite a bad reputation in the Star Wars Universe, this movie is great. Set before A New Hope, Rogue One focuses on the group of rebels who steal the Death Star plans. Telling you much more about this movie would ruin the numerous fun surprises that are in this film and make this film such a delight to watch. If you are a Star Wars fan you will love it because, whilst this movie feels very different from the Star Wars movies that have come before it, it still feels like a Star Wars movie. Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie to look at war in the unique way Rogue One does. The war between the Rebels and Empire is more painful and gray than it has been portrayed in the past which makes Rogue One quite a sad movie. In the wrong hands, this sadness could have enveloped the film and made it a depressing movie going experience. However Rogue One has been one of my favourite movie going experiences of the year because despite being very dark, there was a huge amount of wonder in this movie. This movie didn’t lose its Star Wars factor.
In addition to the tone Rogue One set for itself being pretty much perfect, the acting was really good. The stand outs of the movie were Diego Luna (who played Cassian Andor who is a joint lead with Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso) and Donnie Yen (who plays Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior who believes in the force). Another stand out in this movie was the new droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) who is a great droid full of sass and lightens the film quite a bit. Most of the comedic elements of the film come from K-2SO and I think that his character was needed in this movie. Without K-2SO, this movie could have gone too dark for Star Wars. Whilst the trailers made me believe Felicity Jones could be a potential problem for the movie, I have to say Jyn Erso was less annoying than the trailers had portrayed her to be. She still wasn’t my favourite character but Felicity Jones did a lot to make Jyn Erso more empathetic, and I really liked her. Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, and Ben Mendelsohn also gave great performances in this movie.
Ben Mendelsohn was the main villain in this movie but he wasn’t just another Darth Vader rip off. He played Director Orson Krennic and whilst he brought the evil, villainous side needed for a Star Wars villain, he was a man trying to get his job done. He was a different type of villain in the Star Wars universe, and I enjoyed that.
The visuals in this movie were incredible. Whilst Star Wars has always had great visual elements (even the prequels), this movie had a great cinematographer and director. Some of the shots in this movie were so beautiful that I amazed. The locations helped to increase the scope of this movie and helped the movie to look so good. The directing was really good as it was a very engrossing movie and I felt a lot of tension even though I knew what would happen in the end. The VFX were incredible in this movie. Everything seemed very realistic and some of the VFX surprised me in a positive way. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away has never felt so real.
I was also surprised about how good the writing was. Before the movie had been released, there had been rumors of rewrites and reshoots on Rogue One, and whilst it can be a sign of studio interference (which can be pretty bad, just look at X-Men Orgins Wolverine or Fantastic Four), I thought the writing was really good here. The characters were likable and seemed like real people. Also the writing made the movie have a really dark tone but also have some humorous moments that didn’t seem out-of-place. The emotion in this film was a great example of writing, directing and acting combining to create something organic and special. Rogue One made me laugh, but it also made me cry (which is a rare feat but one I respect Rogue One for.).
Whilst I loved this movie, there were a few problems with it (especially in the first half hour). The first half hour of Rogue One was a bit slow and seemed a little bit choppy in comparison to the rest of the film. However I feel that the ending of the movie was so fantastic (it’s one of the best final 30 minutes I’ve seen in a while) that the first 30 minutes being a bit slow can be forgiven. Also the opening scene is a great introduction to the movie. It’s sad but beautiful and introduces a few characters really well. Also there was no opening crawl (a Star Wars tradition) which threw me slightly, but that’s only a slight complaint.
Overall, I think that Rogue One is a great movie. The acting, directing, writing, VFX, and cinematography great. It struck the right balance between a dark movie and the wonder Star Wars is known for. The only real problem I had with the movie was the slow start which is more than forgiven by the excellent finale. This is a must see for any Star Wars fan. I think Rogue One is as good as the Force Awakens (if not better) as the movie is unique and has some great emotional moments which feel organic to the narrative. I’m going to give Rogue One 4.5 out of 5. Rogue One is one of my favourite films of the year, and I think the last 30 minutes of the film is worth the price of admission alone.
(Quick final note, I saw this in IMAX 3D and whilst I’d recommend going to see Rogue One on a huge screen, 3D really doesn’t add anything to the experience.)
Chelsea Baines covers Entertainment for MFST, you can follow her on Twitter @ChelseaBaines
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