This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Rogue One” is the first of the “Star Wars” anthology films, it takes place before the events in “Episode IV: A New Hope” and follows the story of a small group of rebels who set out to steal the plans for the Death Star. This cast is led by Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, it also stars Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed and it’s directed by Gareth Edwards.
This is Disney’s second venture with their multi-billion-dollar franchise and I was extremely curious about how this film would turn out. “The Force Awakens” was a very entertaining film but they clearly played it safe, delivered tons of fan service, endless nostalgia and provided a story formula that did not stray far from the template “A New Hope” followed. This new film would not revolve around the Skywalker’s, it would introduce new characters and story angles to the “Star Wars” universe, and I was intrigued by how the tone would play out. Would this be a true “Star Wars” feeling movie or would it have a Disney glossing on it?
After watching I was happy to see this one was a true “Star Wars” film. It certainly stood on its own legs, and told a story that was true to the universe of this franchise. I really enjoyed this film, it felt different, but you could always sense the connections to the other films in tone. But it was still able to maintain its own identity as a more violent, and action-packed war film. Which in my opinion was able to solidify itself as a true anthology film in the same world, filling in a piece to the larger story, and not a simple spin-off.
This was a visually stunning film to watch. The CG, action set-pieces, the battle sequences, all the settings and landscapes, were all absolutely amazing. The action-sequences were spectacular both in the air with massive scale battles, and on the ground with gritty violent sequences. The beach battle we have all seen in the trailers was all I wanted, and Gareth Edwards pulls the audience into the chaos of these moments, with many ground-level angles that show the massive size of the AT-AT’s and the sheer number of soldiers coming at them. The camerawork throughout this film was awesome in my opinion as was the cinematography.
The cast performances were solid all-around but there was a lack of substance to the characters in this story. I really enjoyed “The Force Awakens” it was a fun film that delivers endless amounts of nostalgia but it was the characters that made it shine to me. Rey, Finn and Kylo Ren were all great characters that you can invest interest in, you can understand their motivations and it naturally delivers more impact.
But while the performances were great in this movie, there were none of those similar standout characters. Other than Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, the other characters were not given much in the way development, so I never really got to know them, and couldn’t invest in their well-being in the story. You could almost say, characters in this movie at-times, were there simply for their additions to the overall film, and not the story itself.
For example, Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe was in this film to deliver some awesome martial-arts themed sequences, which were great. Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus was there for comic-relief with Donnie Yen’s character, yet I never got to know really anything about their friendship. Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, did get some minor back-drop but he was virtually there to serve as a male co-star for Felicity Jones. I don’t know, I guess I was excited to see more characters in this franchise and was let down by them, out of elevated expectations.
Ben Mendelsohn was also great in his performance as Orson Krennic but he wasn’t able to give this film a true villain, but it was not due to his performance. It’s just that when you have a villain like Darth Vader in the wings, and you know he is there, no one would be able to give this film a more satisfying villain in his place.
I wanted much more Darth Vader in this movie and I was honestly surprised by his lack of screen-time. But it’s been one of those years, we all had to sit through a two-and-a-half-hour film to watch Batman and Superman fight for like six-minutes, we watched endless promos for a new Joker only to see he was nothing more than a small subplot. And now a film that could have done so much with such a great villain, only to deliver a tease of what could have been.
But I will give this movie credit, it did what it needed to do to tell a missing piece of this long saga and delivered a feel of its own. The visual quality was top-of-the line and it entertained me from start-to-finish. In my opinion it delivered the best action of any of the films, but also some of the weakest characters, however the overall package of this one definitely puts up there past the prequels and solidifies itself as one of the better films in the franchise.
I really enjoyed it but was let down by certain things it lacked. I can overlook the recycled feeling musical score and some of the thin characters, for what the overall story delivers, but the lack of Darth Vader was an annoyance. They should have not shown him in the promo material, kept him a secret, so that once he was included into the film audiences would lose their minds, but in the end, we get a lot of Orson Crennick as a villain, when we know a true antagonist is watching and really in control.