Star Wars: Rogue One



Rogue One is well-crafted, nicely made movie that deserves the attention it is receiving. If anyone wants to see it more than once however, is another story.

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When this movie was first announced, I was immediately skeptical. “A movie about stealing the plans for the first Death Star? Um… spoilers, it gets blown up after the plans are delivered”. A movie explaining some silly little detail from Episode IV that did not really need to be explained just felt unnecessary. Signing on Gareth Edwards, the man who made Godzilla (2014), a Godzilla movie with barely any Godzilla (don’t you dare use the Jaws excuse because everyone seems to miss the point of Jaws whenever they do), as director didn’t exactly blow my mind as much as give me cause for more skepticism. This whole undertaking just seemed like a worrying attempt by Disney/Lucasfilm to turn Star Wars into Marvel, a money machine for yearly releases to fill a corporate spreadsheet.

And then the first teaser was revealed. It looked good. Rogue One looked really, really good! I was much more willing to give it a chance and The Force Awakens goodwill had not been destroyed by anything. After the first official trailer was released, I believed that maybe this was a project worth the risk. The rumors of post-production, behind-the-scenes troubles did not bother me as nothing and/or no one beyond one leak had come forward to confirm.

With all that said, and having finally seen Star Wars: Rogue One, is the final product a movie worth the effort, or is it a waste of time and money? Good news ladies and gentlemen, Rogue One is worth it! Rogue One is a really good movie! The best Star Wars prequel movie!  However, this movie is not mind-blowing or something you definitely must watch. At least not more than once.

Allow me to clarify for you at once. Rogue One is good. I am not going to dispute that. But it is also very predictable. I know that does not sound like much of a complaint, since the same can be said about last year’s The Force Awakens, but the main difference is that Rogue One lacks the emotional punch that TFA brought to the cinema.

Rogue One is a decidedly darker Star Wars movie. It decides to examine the nitty-gritty of this universe. A covert-ops team for the Rebellion. The people who do the real dirty work. Acts and deeds that can be considered downright evil such as assassination, killing civilians, the kind of acts that will not win over supporters against the Empire. These are the people who get the job done behind the scenes. Those whose names will not be memorialized.

What Rogue One does better than the likes of Suicide Squad is what The Dirty Dozen did decades ago. Rogue One spends just enough time with each of these characters alone to make us care about them. The sad part is, and to be fair this is an unavoidable problem for the movie considering the adventure it has decided to portray, is that it’s very easy to guess the fate of these characters if you’ve ever seen a movie before. After the movie finished, I walked away from the theater having guessed correctly the fate of at least half the main/important characters. That is not to say the characters are badly written. They are from badly written. I actually liked these new characters, especially new droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), who is a welcome source of levity around a cast of otherwise dreary characters (similar to Paul Rudd in any movie he is in) and provides many of the film’s laughs and charisma. At the same time, I do not feel the burning desire to ever want to see more of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), or Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen).

The main reason I remeber any of these characters is because one of them is played by Donnie Yen, a great actor who has a well deserved reputation as one of Hong Kong’s premiere action stars from such films as Ip Man and Legend of the Fist: The Return of Zen Chen. Marvel and/or Netflix fans will likely remember him for similarities to Scott Glenn’s (The Hunt for Red October, Training Day) Stick from Netflix’s original Marvel TV series, Daredevil. Aside from that detail however, I do not feel the need to see more of this cast, unlike my hunger to see more of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), or Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Now of course, it’s time to talk the biggest source of doubts about this movie: the CGI resurrection of the late Peter Cushing (Dr Who and the Daleks, Dracula A.D. 1972), who played Grand Moff Tarkin, in the very first Star Wars. Peter Cushing was a trained, Shakespearean actor, who developed a well-earned reputation as one of the greatest actors the world had ever seen. After all, for Star Wars fans he made the otherwise minor, unremarkable role of “bad guy who controls space station” that Tarkin was in the original movie, memorable to the whole world for his natural ability to just bleed charisma and brilliance onto any movie he was in! Has Disney’s attempt to resurrect the late, great, Shakespearean actor paid off? Yes and no.

Guy Henry (V for Vendetta, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2) provides the motion and vocal performance for Tarkin and I must say Henry is spectacular here! Henry genuinely walks and sounds like how Cushing himself would have played Tarkin had Cushing still been alive today to play the role! Henry is an immensely talented vocal performer as well as he has made his voice sound just like Cushing’s! If only it weren’t offset by the rubbery CGI. You will notice it is not just Tarkin. Everyone who appears on the Death Star will look like they had their faces plastic-wrapped in what I believe was an attempt to hide the awkward CGI pasted onto Henry’s face. It becomes especially noticeable when Ben Mendelsohn (the Dark Knight Rises, Bloodline), who has scenes on the Death Star, is in his scenes that do not take place on the Death Star. Now the technology is still in its infancy so there is obviously room for improvement and this is only it’s first test run so I’m willing to let it slide for now.

I want to make clear I am not harping on this movie. It is a very good movie. It is more than worth watching. Rogue One is well deserving of its status as a Star Wars movie and has earned the distinction of being, to date, the best Star Wars prequel (though that is an admittedly very low bar to clear as all the prequel movies have thus far been terrible). Rogue One is well worth your time and money to and absolutely deserves a watch. I am just not certain anyone will want to see it more than once.

*Image Source: Slate.com

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