Rogue One: Rebellion versus Empire
Star Wars is back! Back to the roots, back in time. Rogue One takes us back to the time when the Galactic Empire ruled the galaxy. The first non-main saga Star Wars movie has hit theaters and will face the test of fans when it comes to being accepted as Star Wars. So, after a disappointing Force Awakens ( in regards to originality and bringing something new to the story) how does Rogue One fare? I split the good and the bad sections into the Rebellion and Empire so let’s see if the rebels will manage to free the galaxy or if the Emperor and Vader will rule it forever.
- Rogue One is original! Originalty is the key to the success of a franchise movie. Where Force Awakens failed, Rogue One prevails. With a script by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll & Gary Whitta, the new movie expands the world of Star Wars, transforming the iconic opening crawl of the series into a new story. It is understandable that Disney wanted to play safe with Force Awakens, but to straight-up copy the plot and twists of the original trilogy is disappointing. Rogue One manages to not only bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, but also to make Episode IV a better movie in a way, creating an engaging backstory for the entire events in that movie.
- The main characters are likeable and well-rounded! Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Candor (Diego Luna) are not annoying or there just for the sake of having a racial minority. Both actors fit their roles and never stray too far from what they can do. They are well constructed and, at least Jyn, has a strong backstory that motivates her to do what she does in the movie. Candor, on the other side, represents everything a rebel should be, but also shows us the struggle of ordinary men engaged in the battle with the Empire, with attrocities being committed by both sides. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the villain, also has a strong motivation, trying to prove himself to the Emperor and become the boos on the Death Star. It does help that Mendelsohn is Australian (so almost british) and that he has a strong presence, but Krennic has his flaws.
- Darth Vader! Don’t expect to see too much of the Lord of the Sith, but expect his scences to be amazing, cause they are. I could say his last scene in Rogue One is one of the most badass, horrific and powerful scene Vader ever had. It shows the true horror Vader represented. So watch out for it! Also, be prepared to see another famous villain from A New Hope getting more backstory.
- Good cinematography. Even though Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) isn’t known for strong characters or stories, he does know how to show the size and scope of a world. His direction takes us to lots of worlds in the galaxy, diverse and different. The famous AT-ATs are also revealed from the soldiers standpoint making them look even bigger than before.
- Good visual effects. There isn’t much to say here, cause most of the big budget movies don’t have problems with the CGI. Rogue One merges practical with CGI with success and also recreates some beloved characters from A New Hope through motion-capture.
- Awesome action! The action scenes are very well done and you can see Edwards really wanted to make a war movie.
- Good cameos and nods to both the prequels and the original trilogy!
- The music is not memorable at all! Michael Giacchino is a very talented composer (Star Trek) and knows how to pay homage to the previous work of others, especially Williams (Jurassic World), but here he never seems to get it right. With the exception of the Vader theme, which incorporates the Imperial March and the style of Revenge of the Sith epic music, the rest of the soundtrack is bland and boring. It’s always trying to reach a high point and always fails when nearing that. He uses parts of the iconic music of Williams but remixes and twists them so much it becomes almost like a video game soundtrack on a loop, You know, the generic action movie/action game music.
- The secondary characters have no development! With the exception of Jyn, Cassian, Krennic and Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), you never understand why the other characters do what they do, especially the Rogue team. There’s also Forest Whitaker‘s character, Saw Gerrera, known from Star Wars Clone Wars and used extensively in the marketing. He servers no purpose in this movie. He does almost nothing, he says even less and he leaves the scene quickly. Why waste such a talented actor?
- Rogue One misses the opportunity to show us more about the history of Star Wars. We see some behind-the-scenes stuff about the Empire and Rebellion, but nothing big. How, why, where? Plus, a portion of the movie takes place on Jedha, the planet from which Jedi took their saber crystals. There’s a temple dedicated to them and a holy city. And two of the Rogue team members are ex-priests from that temple. They go little into depth regarding the legacy of the Jedi and this last connection (for the world) with their order. The blind priest mumbles “The Force is with me” in the movie, but it carries no strength, because you do not know why or if he really is dedicated to the principles of the Jedi and their history.
- Not enough Vader! Ok, this might be taken as a personal complaint, but seeing as they handled him VERY well in Rogue One, it would have been nice to see more of him.
In conclusion, the Rebellion saves the galaxy, but we already knew that (haha). Is Rogue One an awesome movie? It’s s a better movie than Force Awakens, that’s for sure. It also stands on its own as a war movie and as a standalone Star Wars movie. It has flaws, but originality makes it a great addition to the saga.