Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – SPOILER FREE Movie Review

I am one with the Force, The Force is with me.

Rogue One is Disney’s first Star Wars spin-off movie that takes place in the middle of Episode III and Episode IV, focusing on how the Rebels received the famous Death Star plans that shape the events of Episode IV. I’ve got to be honest, when I saw the first trailers and news about reshoots, I wasn’t very thrilled about Rogue One. I thought this and the ideas about a Boba Fett and Han Solo movie were going to be lame “try-hard” attempts by Disney to turn the franchise into a Cash-Cow by making it predictable yet good enough to attract massive audiences. I especially started believing this after I watched Episode VII for the 3rd time and realized that it was basically Episode IV (Not that “Force Awakens” is bad…it did its job of setting up a new trilogy very well. It just did it in the same exact way that “A New Hope” did).

When I left the theater last year after watching “Force Awakens” for the first time, It felt odd…as if something just didn’t sit right with me afterwards. When I left the theater yesterday after watching “Rogue One” for the first time…I felt like I finally got the Star Wars movie that I’ve been waiting for since Disney acquired Lucasfilms in 2012.

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Lets start with filmmaking and technical aspects. This is THE most beautifully shot and animated Star Wars film I’ve ever seen. I wont get in to specific scenes, but everything just looked so flawless. There was one slight issue with a motion capture character that blew me away at first, but started to become less believable as the movie progressed. Regardless, the shots, effects, the CGI, the cinematography, fight scenes were all just so spectacular. Additionally, the movie has so many action scenes where they put all of this to such amazing use, making “Rogue One” instantly deserving of awards for best cinematography for 2016. It’s that good, I’m not kidding.

But since I didn’t actually go to film school and since the”lens” I look a movie with encompasses storytelling and characters…I did find some flaws here. The most important thing about Star Wars is, in my opinion, the characters. Its the things they say that become iconic, its their personalities that made other filmmakers refer to characters they make as “a Han Solo type”, its their actions that become memories we remember forever. The characters in “Rogue One” just didn’t have that. I understand that this is the only movie they got to be in, but one thing JJ did very well with “Force Awakens” was get us to care about every new person we saw…audience could easily refer back to things said and done by Rey, Finn, Poe, and even Kylo Ren…and he did that in one movie. “Rogue One” had so much exposition to deliver in the first act, which was admittedly slow, that we cut down on development for some of our “main” characters in the squad. Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, gets about one moment where you get some background and Jyn Erso, the main character played by Felicity Jones, gets the most. Everyone else somewhat falls in to generic tropes, which bums me out because these performances by these actors are great. Donnie Yen and Riz Ahmed (ugh this is such a diverse cast and I love it. Shout out to the FIRST BROWN GUY TO BE AN IMPORTANT CHARACTER IN STAR WARS! WE MADE IT Y’ALL! HOW HARD WAS THAT, AM I RIGHT??) were particularly wonderful in their roles of Chirutt Imwe and Bodhi Rook, respectively.

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Despite the last paragraph, we still had some great moments with characters that I’d likely attribute to the writing and direction. The droid, K2SO was genuinely a hilarious sasshole that I wish we could get in future. He easily is my favorite droid character in all of Star Wars now (fight me, BB-8 fans. You and I both know he’s just there to sell children’s toys). Moments between Jyn Erso and her father, Galen Erso (portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen) were also very touching, and Chirrut and Baze (Wen Jiang) become one of the best Star Wars bromances right up there with Han/Chewbacca and Poe/Finn. I also really appreciated how this movie showed the “Scumbag” side of the Rebellion that other Star Wars movies never really did, specifically with Cassian Andor and some of his actions. Also…Darth Vader…wow. He isn’t in the movie much, but most of us knew that because the marketing or the press didn’t shove Vader in our faces *COUGHCOUGHSUICIDESQUADJOKERCOUGHCOUGH*, any time Vader is on screen is just such an utter delight and it does justice to one of the greatest villains in all of cinema history.

Perhaps my favorite thing about “Rogue One” is how well this fits into the Star Wars canon. There is a massive plot twist that not only clears up a huge hole in the Original Trilogy, but adds another layer to the entire story of this galaxy far far away. We even get a connection to the prequel trilogy with a certain character being brought back (one that those of us who’ve played “Force Unleashed” know helped Start the Rebellion itself). References to other Star Wars films aren’t beating you over the head constantly and actually all tie in very well. I was insanely pleased with how well this all worked out, ESPECIALLY the ending!

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To wrap this review up, I’m noticing that this is polarizing some people and I’ve seen a lot of dumb criticism for this movie. Honestly, I think its because of how high general expectations became after “Force Awakens” (which also explains why that got more praise than it deserved…because the last thing to compare it to that we had was “Revenge of the Sith”…opinion, not fact). “Rogue One” isn’t perfect like I’ve mentioned, it has its flaws. However when you look at the overall movie and its great moments, effect on the canon, direction and storytelling…”Rogue One” is so incredibly enjoyable and I think most, if not all, Star Wars fans will like it.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gets an 8.5/10

For fun, I’ll throw in my updated Star Wars movie ranking:
1. Empire Strikes Back
2. A New Hope
3. Rogue One
4. The Return of the Jedi
5. The Force Awakens
6. Revenge of the Sith
7. Phantom Menace
8. Attack of the Clones

As always, I appreciate any support! I really have fun doing this and I hope anyone reading this at least has fun too even if they disagree. I’m making it a personal goal to write more in 2017, so I’d really love it if you show your friends and help get the soggzblogs name out there!

That’s all for now,
Soggz out!

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