This is one’s a biggie. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is likely a lot of people’s most anticipated film of the year and it’s undoubtably going to be a lot of Star Wars Fans favourite movie of 2016. As for what Star Wars means to me, my thoughts on the series have remained unchanged since my Force Awakens review from last year. I’ve grown up with and enjoyed with all 6 original Lucas-era films (Attack of the Clones is my ultimate guilty pleasure) and get really hyped whenever a new film is released. While I’m not as hardcore of a fan as some of my friends, I still love Star Wars. A LOT. Rogue One was in fact my third most anticipated movie of the year (Right behind Kung Fu Panda 3 and Shin Godzilla) and I was interested in seeing how Disney would handle a darker Star Wars movie, and how they would handle these Spin-offs in general. While I do have issues with it, I think this is a pretty good first step into a larger world.
Rogue One’s biggest weakness is the way it handles its characters. Not because the characters are necessarily bad, a few of them are actually really interesting. My personal favourites were the Sarcastic Imperial Droid known as K2SO, and the Force faithful warrior Chirrut Îmwe. Both of these characters I found endlessly fascinating and intriguing (not to mention hilarious at times. Both K2SO and Chirrut get some quotable one-liners.) While those two are great and memorable, the rest of the cast struggles. The acting is good across the board, but there are so many characters fighting for screen time that it can be a little hard to follow. (At least in the beginning) The way the film jumps from Planet to planet and character to character felt a little messy near the beginning. Thankfully, The film does smooth out as it goes along, and by the final climax you do like a lot of these characters. Just don’t expect them to be as memorable as the cast featured in last year’s “Force Awakens.”
However, There are some returning characters that do steal the show, particularly Darth Vader. Holy crap….While his screen time is minimal, it’s very impactful. This film truly reminds you why he’s considered to be the most iconic movie villain of all time. Vader’s presence in this film is one of the highlights of not just Rogue One, but the entire Saga. One area that this film vastly improves upon Force Awakens in the action sequences. As much as I loved Force Awakens back in 2015, I was a little underwhelmed by the action set pieces. Not the case with Rogue One. Nearly every battle and fight is exhilarating and has real stakes involved.
Rogue One might just be the most beautiful looking Star Wars movie ever made. The cinematography blows almost every other film this year out of the water, This is a gorgeous looking film right from frame one, and it keeps that constancy through the entire running time. Visually, this movie is near- perfect. Director Gareth Edwards really loves playing around with scale (as seen in 2014’s Godzilla) and it proves to be effective when we get a good look at a Star Destroyer and see just how big it is compared to it’s surroundings as it looms over locations filled with characters.
Rogue One is a relentlessly exciting, if a little flawed, entry into the Star Wars Saga. It’s going to be really interesting to see where Disney goes from here, now that this darker tone seems to be proving successful. Will we finally get a Darth Vader movie? I’m still hoping for a Droid movie myself, but that’s besides the point. While it doesn’t quite top The Force Awakens for me, This is still la beautifully made film that begs to be seen on the Big Screen at least once. Go out and see it. Despite the flaws, it’s one of the better blockbusters of the year.