Rogue One Review: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. This review DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS! If you haven’t seen the movie, then this is not the review you’re looking for.
Okay, now that we have that clear right from the get go, let’s make one more thing clear. I like the movie. Really, I liked this film. Too many people get sucked into the “either it’s the best ever or it’s total garbage”. For me, I’m in the gray area also known as “realistic opinion”. This film had some hits, and it had some misses.
The Good: The first thing that jumps out to me is the “real feel” that this movie had. Even in “The Force Awakens” the armor looked polished; the ships looked so clean. In this film, the stormtrooper armor looked like it would on a remote outpost. Dusty, dirty, dented, dinged up, the troopers armor looked how you think it would on a remote outpost as opposed to the capital world of Coruscant. The X-wings were also dirty, rusted in some spots, faded or chipped paint, and showed wear and tear. This is how you think a ragtag bunch of rebels would appear. Speaking of stormtroopers, I want to extend a hearty thank you to Lucasfilm for making the decision to not have them all sound the same. This firmly establishes that they are conscripts and not clones left over from the Prequel Trilogy.
I also greatly enjoyed the battle at the end of the movie. Seeing Y-Wings on bombing runs, Red Leader (CGI), the Hammerhead ship ramming its way through the Imperial Navy, all of these were very well done and paced beautifully in time with the Battle on the Beach. The visuals were incredible and the camera angles made you truly feel part of the action.
Finally, it was the supporting characters who stole the show. K2SO and Chirrut Imwe in particular were tremendous characters who had excellent personalities. They nearly stole the show with their quips and jokes. I laughed particularly when they blindfolded Chirrut and he yelled out “Really? I’M BLIND!”
The CGI characters were really well done. I was surprised at seeing how much screen time Tarkin was given (far more than Vader), but I was very nearly pulled into believing that really WAS Tarkin. Leia was also very well done, even with a noticeably dubbed line at the end of the movie. The “Jeff Bridges Effect” has been proven to hold up and I predict we’ll see more of it in the future.
Vader’s lone scene of significance (let’s face it, the fanboys wanted to see Vader do just one thing in this film) was so much fun to see. He’s throwing guys around, deflecting blaster shots with his saber, killing all over the place, and spreading pure fear into the rebels. I do have to wonder why he didn’t just use the Force to get the plans out of the rebel’s hand since he was using it throughout the fight, but the testosterone flowing through me as he was causing carnage overpowered my rational side.
The Bad: First things first, Michael Giacchino is a brilliant composer and was given Rogue One with only a handful of months to compose the score. But man, did he whiff on this one. While there were a few nods to the John Williams score, I cannot recall a single theme running through my head from the film. Not one. Star Wars is known for giving characters their own theme. Yoda’s Theme, the Binary Sunset, Leia’s Theme, Anakin and Padme’s Love Theme, even Rey’s Theme from The Force Awakens are just a handful you can listen to and be humming them throughout the day. This film? Two hours and thirteen minutes of filler music. There is no Jyn Erso theme. No Director Krennic “here comes the bad guy” theme. I don’t even recall what music was being played during the end battle.
The beginning of the movie was a rushed, sloppy, crammed mess. It reminded me too much of Suicide Squad’s beginning, where you spend a little time in a whole lot of places for the sake of moving the story along. Scene 1: Spend 45 seconds on some random trading outpost where we learn one thing. Scene 2: Spend 67 seconds on a pointless flashback to Jyn’s childhood when we just saw those scenes five minutes ago. Scene 3: Spend 32 seconds with Saw Gerrera. No time to develop a character, just get the story moving! I’m pretty sure Jyn went from being in an Imperial prison to being entrusted with this super-incredible-OMG FATE OF THE GALAXY AT STAKE-mission in about eight minutes. No time for character development, we have a movie to make!
What happened to the lines from the trailers? Did you notice that many “quotable” lines were missing from the film. When Jyn Erso famously says “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel!” and Saw Gerrera’s line of “What will you do when they catch you? What will they do when they BREAK YOU!” go missing, that is bound to raise some questions. In fact, there’s quite a bit that was said in the first trailer that didn’t make the movie. Remember the TIE fighter that confronted Jyn on the catwalk? Where did that go?
The Ugly: When your main character is bland, you’re in trouble. When your main character is blander than a Saltine cracker on a piece of wheat bread (not toast, just bread), then you’re way beyond trouble. Beyond her love for her father, Jyn Erso has zero personality. Her facial expressions are on par with Kristen Stewart and we know literally nothing about her. We’re “told” (not shown) that she’s one of Saw’s fanatics. We’re “told” (not shown) that she has a long criminal record. They couldn’t write in one trait? One quirk? One thing memorable about her? When she dies in Cassian’s arms (another character devoid of depth), it didn’t bother me. When her father died, I didn’t feel anything. You know who’s death did pluck my heartstrings? K2SO.
Speaking of wasted opportunity, let’s discuss the early McGuffin, Saw Gerrera. In the first act, the Rebel Alliance is desperate to find him. It seems he can link the Alliance to Galen Erso (Jyn’s father) through a defected pilot that came his way. The hype for this guy was pretty big. He was so hardcore, he thought the rebels were wimps and went on to fight the Empire his way. He was so tough that even with most of his body shot away, he still carries on the struggle. Then when Jyn finally meets him, he’s spews out some exposition to help move the story along, and then he’s buried. That’s it? Really? There’s some talk about Jyn’s time with him and how she was the best soldier he had, but that’s it. By the way, that sounds like there’s some room for another movie. A prequel to Rogue One? The movie that was a sequel to the prequels, but a prequel to the originals? Sounds like fun to me.
Overall, the movie truly is enjoyable. As I said in the beginning, this movie is worth seeing and worth seeing again. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the 3D as the effect was really not the best for this film. However, I give this a solid 7 out of 10.