Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I really hope there's a Star Wars themed burlesque show that sprouts from this called Rouge One.

Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story – 5 out of 5

A year after getting a new addition to the saga stories, Disney is unleashed their latest Star Wars film with the stand-alone tale Rogue One.  When the House of Mouse announced that after The Force Awakens they would release a new Star Wars movie every year and that in between the saga episodes would be self-contained, single movie stories, I was going out of my mind.  I’d get a Star Wars movie every year?!?  I’m a huge Star Wars fan—and not one of those fans who says they like something but then never stops complaining and talking about all the things they hate about what they like.  I’m a legit fan who freaks the hell out with excitement over anything that has to do with the brand.  I was very excited to see this movie (hell, I even took a vacation day from my day job to see it…and then had to bust ass to catch up on my work—if it wasn’t for that job, this review would have been up a lot earlier).  I have to say, right off the bat, this movie definitely met and exceeded my expectations.

                                                     Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
A whole squad is formed entire of relatives of Dak and Porkins.
They don't make it five minutes.

Occurring before the events in A New Hope, we see the galaxy in full turmoil and caught up in the Galactic Civil War.  The Empire rules with an iron fist as one of their weapons developers; Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), takes brilliant engineer Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and forces him to oversee the development of the ultimate weapon; The Death Star.  As the weapon nears completion, it seems Galen has installed a weakness in the system and gets word of this to the Rebellion.  Rebel agent Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is given the mission to find and work with Galen’s daughter; Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), to see if the claims are true.  Alongside Cassian’s faithful reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk), a blind warrior who devotes himself to the teachings of the Force despite being unable to sense it; Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), Chirrut’s partner with a very big blaster; Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), and former Imperial transport pilot; Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), this ragtag team of rogues must track down the schematics of this terrifying new weapon and get it into the hands of the Rebellion.

                                                       Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Pfff.  What a piece of bantha poodoo when compared to the Force.

The one thing that struck me about Rogue One above everything else is how the film feels like a movie version of a book or comic in the Star Wars universe.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that the mythology of the galaxy far, far away doesn’t end with just the films.  Before Disney owned it, there was the Expanded Universe and in it was stories through various eras in this reality but Disney killed all that history and has decided to craft their own definitive canon.  This film feels like it would be one of those books or comics that expand on the previous stories but instead of existing solely on the page or in a Marvel comic, it has come to life.  And, I have to say, this film did a tremendous job of expanding and setting up the events in A New Hope.

                                                     Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I just gotta throw it out there that I love the fact that Alan Tudyk is
now a part of the Star Wars canon.

Another element I found this film did exceptionally well was the exploration of its themes and how gritty they show the Galactic Civil War.  While some themes and ideas weren’t explored as deeply as they could have been, there were moments when they showed that some of the tactics of the Rebellion were no better in ideology than the Empire.  For example, we see this in the character of Cassian who was responsible for doing some shady business for the Rebels and it’s also seen in the character of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a man who takes the rebellion against the Empire to more extremes.  This film also showed, far better than any other Star Wars film in my opinion, how gritty and ugly this war can get.  Sure, it’s depressing seeing that one Ewok try to wake up his one buddy in Return of the Jedi but this one felt so dark at times and it really captured a feel for how heavy this war is and the amount that is risked to be a part of it.

                                                     Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Gerrera debuted in The Clone Wars and now he made the jump to live-
action?  I love Disney's cohesive canon for Star Wars.  I don't miss
the EU at all.

                        Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
These dudes were awesome!
Rogue One also supports a great diverse cast and very compelling characters.  While I will admit that I was disappointed that I didn’t get to learn more about these individuals—like getting to see more of Jyn’s outlaw life before the Rebels rescued her—but, what I got of them, was great.  I particularly enjoyed the snarky humor that was delivered by Alan Tudyk as K-2 and the camaraderie and badass-ness of Chirrut and Baze.  However, the desire for more development aside, I was definitely enthralled with the performances from the entire cast.  On a side note:  It’s just awesome getting to see Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn in a Star Wars film.  Mikkelsen is endlessly amazing and I’ve been a fan of Mendelsohn in everything I’ve seen him in.

                                                      Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I don't want to be controversial here but...I think he was the best Hannibal Lecter
we've ever had.

Finally, I was truly amazed with the special effects (both practical and computer) and the sense of scale this film offered.  Tip-toeing around the dreaded Spoilers patch, there are computer effects that made my jaw drop and whisper, “Wow” constantly in this movie—especially when it came to moments of action and even effects used to make characters.  Additionally, this film really made me feel the size of the battles, Imperial Walkers, and even the Death Star on a level that no film prior has.  For example, just seeing the troops running towards the AT-ACT walkers on the beaches of the planet Scarif was incredibly awesome to see and it really created a sense of massive scale.

                                                        Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture
I highly doubt I'd have the guts to run towards the gigantic armored death

                           Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
There's so much more I want to know about her.
The only downsides I had for Rogue One is there are some development issues.  I already mentioned that I would have liked to see more of the backstory of Jyn and and I really wanted to know more about Cassian and his work with the Rebellion but, in reality, a lot of the characters needed some more background given to them.  There’s enough given that you understand who they are, what motivates them and even enough to form emotional connections to them but I still wanted something deeper—especially since they aren’t a part of the saga films and this is a standalone adventure and any additional stories we get will be in book and comic form.  One character who really needed more development was Orson Krennic.  Even though he’s being played by a tremendous actor, I never really felt like he was much of a stand-out villain—especially considering that Darth Vader is in this and has a tremendous impact on the story.  Finally, the story does feel like it is moving too fast at times and that, in turn, kinda creates the development problems.

                                                     Lucasfilm Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
I really wish capes were a fashionable thing in our society.
There were some very minor problems with Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story for me but they weren’t extreme enough where it harmed the entertainment value that I got from it.  Overwhelmingly, I was very pleased and enthralled with the film and the fact that this really stood out as a unique vision of what a Star Wars film can be.  Disney has proven once again that this purchase was a great move and it keeps my excitement level high for the next projects they are going to release…like the young Han Solo film!

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