Full of exciting fan service whilst making me reflect on current troubles around the world in a way I never expected, Rogue One finds itself in a tricky position. Can it make the most of being unshackled from the core saga but also tell a compelling tale that doesn’t upset the events that follow it?
I won’t beat around the bush. If you like Star Wars I don’t see why you won’t love this film.
Every Star Wars film has a sort of imperfect charm to it. Even when they’re terrible you can still occasionally get lost in them. But when they’re good? They can be some of the most exciting and dazzling cinema you’ll find. It boils down to some very simple aspects. We want to cheer the good guys and boo the bad guys. Rogue One manages that amazingly well whilst also giving us moments to question the Rebels and woop as the Empire do some despicable but very cool looking things.
For the first time in any of the films I felt as though the Empire was a terrifying presence. Rather than be told that they’re an oppressive and terrifying blight on the galaxy we actually see it. They’re arrogance and proclivity for heinous acts is astounding. That doesn’t mean to say that our heroes are a bunch of goody two-shoes. The story is very brave in avoiding making them holier than thou. We know who the good guys are, so when they perform acts that in our current world would be called terrorism we still support them. It’s an odd feeling but adds some meat to proceedings.
In a very western sort of way, our heroes aren’t given deep backstories. It’s their interactions with their world and each other that draws us in and care about them. In this respect Rogue One is a triumph. We’re given not only new villains but new looks at old favourites. There’s also a great undercurrent of political backstabbing and greed. A wonderfully cruel Krennic, a sometimes amazing and sometimes odd Tarkin, and a truly intimidating Vader give us a very different look at the Empire and its machinations.
’77 design with ’16 tech? You got it.
The action, especially on the ground, feels like a war. It’s always very clear what’s going on as battles impact one another. There’s a grit not seen in the other films; perfect for the story being told. That grit may not transfer to the space battles but they bring their own spectacle as the most iconic designs of the franchise fight it out.
Rogue One is also fan-service of the highest order. A couple of things did seem excessive but overall the winks and mentions are so well integrated that you can’t help but smile.
Starting slowly, the film gets stronger as it moves along, culminating in some of the most thrilling sequences I’ve seen in a cinema. Rogue One gives me things I’ve longed to see for as long as I can remember. Every time there was a chance for a money shot it was taken. Director Edwards is a massive Star Wars fan and it shows. He’s given us what we wanted. ’77 design with ’16 tech? You got it.
I’ve got a rough idea where Rogue One will rank among all the films but will need more viewings and time to really figure that out. What I do know is that rather than show up A New Hope by being so closely tied to it, it enhances it.
It was a big risk moving outside of the Skywalker saga. Rogue One proves it was a risk worth taking.
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