Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Theatrical release: 12/16/2016
PG-13; 134 minutes
Produced by Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur
Screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy
Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta
Directed by Gareth Edwards

December 16, 2016

At some point I will see and hopefully review Rogue One. With the end-of-year holiday bustle, it might be a little while. But in the meantime, feel free to discuss the movie here. For the short term, comments posted here will not appear in the general comment stream, so that those who have not yet seen it can steer clear of spoilers.

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29 comments on this review

R.
Thu, Dec 15, 2016, 12:11am (UTC -6)
I saw 'Rogue One' tonight and I must say that the trailers have grossly misrepresented the film.

I found it to be a bizarrely soulless and impersonal experience from the outset, but it was halfway through when a certain iconic character made a surprise cameo that I gave up. Anyone who has seen the film and reads this will know exactly what I'm talking about.

For a film that was touted as being dark, there are far too many dead-eyed speeches about hope given but no sense of who these characters are or why they're fighting the Empire. With the original characters, we knew right off the bat that Luke was the idealist, Leia was fighting the good fight and Han just sort of got pulled into the whole mess. With the crew of Rogue One, it's just a bunch of character analogues getting into sticky situations.

Another thing that has begun to wear on me about these latest films; the veneration that ordinary people give to the Force and the Jedi. In the original trilogy, Jedi and the Force had been relegated to figures of near-myth, but nobody worshipped them. In the prequel trilogy, the Jedi were respected as peacekeepers and non-Jedi characters never treated them as godlike figures. The Jedi themselves were presented as hidebound, doctrinaire and complacent to the point that they couldn't perceive their own destruction barrelling toward them despite the fairly obvious clues. Except for Luke, but even he becomes a more distant character when he embraces his Jedi heritage. These are certainly not figures worthy of the idolatry lavished upon them in Episode VII and this latest film, where we have churches dedicated to the Force and people talk about Jedi in awed whispers.

Something is missing in these new films. I'm not sure if it's George Lucas or if Disney has excised some crucial part of the magic, but I'm becoming increasingly cynical of the new 'Star Wars'.
TS
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 2:07am (UTC -6)
Great film, but not without a couple of minor flaws and nitpicks. My gut impression is that it is a better "movie" than Force Awakens in terms of sheer execution. This film built it's story up and never let itself hit a lull, unlike Force Awakens.

One of the main criticisms that I am seeing from some people is that the main characters felt "hollow" and "forgettable". I don't feel like I necessarily agree with that criticism. I could certainly understand Jyn's plight throughout the movie and feel moved by her backstory and the motivations of her character.

At the same time, I strongly feel that THIS Star Wars film is plot driven and not character driven... which is at odds with what The Force Awakens (and the OT) offered. Jyn, Cassian and K-2S0 stand out to me, but the others... not so much. And that wasn't a big deal to me, but I could see it being a problem for others.

In many ways, I think it stands as a fun tribute to the Original movies and serves as an interesting lead-in to that trilogy's storyline. People who approach it from a more cynical point of view might be missing the point, but oh well. To each their own.

3.5/4 on the Jammer scale.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 7:11am (UTC -6)
Loved it.

Don't feel the need to defend it from peoples nitpicks etc. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I must say though. When the film finished, apart from wanting to see it again right then, I felt like I could just put on A New Hope and it would follow perfectly.
Del_Duio
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 7:14am (UTC -6)
Haven't seen the movie yet, though I'd much rather look at this girl on the front page than that horrifying flying Dorito haha.
Mike
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 8:13pm (UTC -6)
I loved the film as well.
To me it was my most enjoyable Star Wars experience since Empire. I am a fan who saw Star Wars in 1977 when I was 8 years old and have been a fan ever since. I found Jedi and the prequels to be disappointing. I did think TFA was a good start for the new trilogy but Rogue One brought back that feeling from the 1st two movies. Maybe it was seeing Darth Vader (in his prime) again but I really felt like this film captured the spirit of the early films. I have also seen some complaints about the CGI, but I loved that Tarkin was back and it did not take me out of the film like it did for others. I did not look at it like "that actor has been dead for 20 years", but rather that this was a character that was integral to this story line, and made it feel more like the movie was taking place in that time period.
J.B.
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 8:52pm (UTC -6)
I was disappointed by it. I'm finding that as I age, I'm really looking for movies where I connect with the characters. Shiny CG mayhem just isn't enough for me anymore. Rogue One didn't cut it in this area. Jyn came the closest but even her motivations felt murky. She went from "I don't give a shit about your rebellion" to "LET'S FIGHT, RAH RAH RAH" far quicker than was probably natural. The rest of the cast barely left an impression at all. They were just generic cannon fodder.

(That said, points goes to Vader, who has probably the most badass moment for his character in the entire franchise.)

It also didn't really feel much like Star Wars, which surprised me. Something felt tonally off but a good chunk of the blame belongs to Michael Giacchino, who only had four weeks to write this score and it shows. His new themes aren't terribly memorable (one of them practically ripped straight from Star Trek: Beyond) and his use of Williams' classic ones rarely hit the mark. Other cues were empty bombast when it didn't feel appropriate. People have been criticizing Williams for his work on TFA but I think it soars above the work done here.

Pacing was also a problem, with the first half of the film rushing to introduce its characters and yet, still feeling sluggish. Once the action started, my interest picked up a bit, if only to admire the visuals. The way the film ties into ANH is admirable and it provides the climax with a certain amount of power. Which is then promptly ruined with a really ghastly CGI recreation of a beloved character.

It's easy to criticize TFA for its rehash elements and those are indeed a problem. But ultimately, it's all about the characters and I cared about Rey, Finn and Poe in a way that I didn't with the entirety of Rogue One's cast. That's a shame.

2.5/4 rating.
Jason R.
Fri, Dec 16, 2016, 10:12pm (UTC -6)
Just saw this movie.

Before I comment, let me say that I detested The Force Awakens, from its Mary Sue protagonist to its sloppy idiot plot, to its hollow characters. The Force Awakens was not merely bad: it was offensive.

So I came into Rogue One with mixed expectations, to put it mildly.

*SPOILERS*

With that said, I liked this movie. It was far from perfect. The protagonist Jin did not offend me like Rey did in TFA. But I did find her lacklustre overall. It's not that she was badly written, but I don't think that actress was able to pull off the character, end of story. I agree with other commentators that the change from how she is at the start to how she becomes halfway was unconvincing.

However, there were many other side characters and moments that I very much enjoyed. I thought the fanatical rebel (Jin's former mentor - forgive me, I do not remember most character names in movies) was exciting, and a very different type of character from what we had seen in previous Star Wars movies. This was a portrayal of a rebel as damaged, both physically and spiritually, in some ways a shadow of Vader what with the breathing device and all. Very nicely done and unexpectedly dark.

I loved Donnie Yen's blind (Jedi?) monk. I still can't figure out if he was supposed to be some kind of fallen Jedi or whatnot, but I thought the concept of a character steeped in the force lacking Jedi powers remarkable and unprecedented in a Star Wars movie. They do not make any attempt to clarify this character's powers and leave the nature of his origin a mystery, which is just perfect.

I thought the main villain was nicely executed and having just enough viciousness without being over the top. I LOVED the use of the death star. Somehow seeing the mushroom cloud of a blasted planet under the shadow of the Death Star was infinitely more impactful and shocking on an emotional level than seeing faceless worlds evaporated in CGI explosions (a la Force Awakens) or for that matter, even the destruction of Alderaan in ANH. This is a Death Star that is terrifying, somehow moreso because it is using only a fraction of its power.

And let me say I LOVED LOVED LOVED the balls this movie had in carrying its premise to a logical (if very un-Disney like) conclusion! This is a movie that understands that its characters can have no future - the nature of the story demands their sacrifice.

I give this movie three stars. An imperfect film, but unlike TFA, an original one, and worthy of the Star Wars legacy.
Greattrekker
Sun, Dec 18, 2016, 10:04pm (UTC -6)
This was a good tie in movie for Episode 4, A New Hope, and adds a good bridge for Episode 3 Revenge of the Sith.

Seeing Anakin/Darth Vader in all his glory is a great plus for this movie. Seeing the death star operating at 1 reactor power was good too.

However, I do agree with others on here, the movie was plot driven, not character driven, so it lost some charm. I want to care about Jyn and the others, but the plot was more about the overall rebellion rather than an individual story.

To quote Jammer in his reviews, I'd consider this movie 70% set up for Episode 4, when Leia and crew were escaping Vader. As set up, after we know the results from history, I actually think the film producer did a good job. It's weakness is that we lack tension in the end, we know that Luke, Leia, and Han would come along to save the day eventually in the follow up movie from 1979 Star Wars, so everyone's sacrifice is already paid in full.

This is a morality tale, if you do the right thing despite all odds, the universe/Force will make sure you get your rewards. That's what "Rogue One" basically becomes, it's a futuristic fable that we already know the moral implications and conclusions about.

I thought Star Wars Force Awakens was a better movie overall attempting both new things and set up new arcs.

Rogue one is set up for a conclusion we already know will happen, but it is done wll and fits into the overall story.

I'd rate this 3 out of 4, good, but nothing we have not sen before.

Brandon
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 1:25pm (UTC -6)
You know the criticism where movies are awesome for the first two acts and then fall apart in the third?

Rogue One was the exact opposite. I agree with common remarks where the first two acts felt rushed and sloppy and the characterization rather weak. But it all came together in the end rather well. It had the courage to give its characters noble deaths, and it did a great job humanizing and gritting-up the Rebellion, as well as throwing more pettiness and political jockeying into the major figures of the Empire. Making both organizations more fractious and tense makes Episode IV a better movie, in my opinion.

Also, if you haven't heard yet, the final three minutes of Rogue One are amongst the best moments of the entire franchise. Caught me emotionally off guard in more ways than one. Validates the entire movie.
N
Tue, Dec 20, 2016, 8:24pm (UTC -6)
Short version - I don't like Star Wars but I liked this. First Star Wars film I've liked since the original. 8/10 or ***
Josh
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 5:39am (UTC -6)
I loved it until the very last moment which raped my childhood.

What I liked was the way it made the Empire feel really oppressive and intractable. We go to different planets and see their reach. We see the power struggle of despots within.

The use of Vader I thought worked well with this. After being name dropped, we first see him in his Tower of Baradur in the land of Mordor. It gives him this mythic quality, the prime enforcer of the Emperor, a person whose name strikes terror into the hearts of anyone who hears it. His use at the end worked for that, even though some decry it as fanservice.

The Death Star was also very well used. It's size was better conveyed by having star destroyers swimming around it. This could not be properly conveyed in the originals.

But when it transpired that Captain Antilles' ship was actually at the big battle and fled right in front of Vader's eyes, that was dumb. I thought they were goi ng to receive the transmission from far far away. And they took the Princess into this big battle? Why?
Jack Bauer
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
"But when it transpired that Captain Antilles' ship was actually at the big battle and fled right in front of Vader's eyes, that was dumb. I thought they were goi ng to receive the transmission from far far away. And they took the Princess into this big battle? Why?"

Because the writers are not very smart people. They wanted to have the big Vader slasher scene at the end and have Leia end the movie which they could have done AND kept continuity with the simplest of ideas.

You could have had Vader's ship disable the flag ship, the crew running for their lives getting chopped up and as a last ditch effort, the guy with the plans could transmit themto Leia's ship which would be on its was to Allderan to get Obi-Wan before Vader sliced him through the gut. Boom done. Leia's ship recieves the plans like Vader suspects at the beginning of ANH. Continuity kept, you can still have the holo-Leia at the end receiving the plans and say the line.

"His use at the end worked for that, even though some decry it as fanservice."

It was fanservice because Vader is not a light-saber weilding maniac who slices up random Rebels like they just screwed his wife. BUT, I would argue the scene with Krennic was the true fan-service scene. I would not have had Vader appear until the dark hallway scene with the lightsaber, but they wanted Vader to spit out some punny lines while choking someone with the force.

I thought this movie was great though. The fact that absolutely everyone dying at the end hit me pretty hard, more than I thought but Im so glad they did that. Im not really sure why Tarkin would want to destory his entire base, but it makes so much more sense that the entire crew of Rogue One perished.

Todd
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
Will say I thought this was a brilliant movie...the beginning did feel a bit chaotic and rushed, but I had no problem keeping up with who was who...and really appreciated the movie's overall theme of sacrifice and heroism for a greater good. The heroes in Rogue One will never see the Death Star destroyed and, even when the movie ends, can't know for certain if the plans they hand off to the Rebellion will do any good, but their noble sacrifice lays the groundwork for all that is to come.

Only real nitpick I have (and it's based on just some retconning), Darth Vader sees Leia's ship pull away during the heat of battle carrying the plans for the Death Star...chases after her and she claims she's on a diplomatic mission? Talk about chutzpah! Or just dramatic retconning of a 40 year old movie.
Nolan
Thu, Dec 22, 2016, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
This is not a Star Wars movie.

Nor was it really trying to be.

It's a war film set in the Star Wars universe. Look at the sheer scope of WWII films, all have different tones, because every story and aspect that came out of that war were tonally different. Dog fighting over the British Isles, POW camps, sneak attacks and covert operations, last ditch stands against the enemy, scorched earth retreats, how the people at home felt sending family members off to war while making munitions. The labour camps. Trying to apply a universal tone to all those events does a disservice to the stories and experiences people went through. And that was just a World War.

Now yes, WWII happened and was horrendous for many people, and Star Wars is a media franchise focused on making money, but in terms of story, I think it's the right call for Star Wars to tap into the different tones and stories that are concievably available for a GALACTIC war. The Star Wars episodes, are still the Star Wars fans have known for decades, and messing with what was established by those movies IN those movies I feel is much riskier. But as far as the "A Star Wars Story" banner, I feel they have a license to experiment and explore different aspects and tones of this universe as they're not tied as much into the Skywalker legacy and destiny.
Latex Zebra
Fri, Dec 23, 2016, 2:50am (UTC -6)
Why wouldn't Leia be in a battle. She's part of the rebel alliance (and a traitor), she's not some pen pusher on Alderaan.
Jack Bauer
Fri, Dec 23, 2016, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
"Why wouldn't Leia be in a battle. She's part of the rebel alliance (and a traitor), she's not some pen pusher on Alderaan."

Why was she in THAT battle?
Yanks
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 8:08am (UTC -6)
Wow. Better than episodes I-III AND TFA (new story)!

Couldn't ask for much more. Action packed ride with a surprisingly emotional ending.

Visuals were outstanding.

Felicity Jones was amazing!

This is what the prequels should have been from the start.

No Jar Jar Binks!! Darth Vader's appearence was chilling, unlike anything we saw in TFA.

Bravo!
Zakalwe
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 11:44am (UTC -6)
Nolan is spot on. I suspect those who haven't yet seen it will enjoy it more if they don't watch it with the preconception of it being a Star Wars movie, whilst accepting that it is packed full of little moments that are in there purely to delight proper Star Wars fans which might be missed by casuals (and I do not use the term perjoratively!).

I love the fact that this film does not shy-away from depicting the realities of war. It rips to shreds Lucas' childish notions of good vs evil and shows the rebels doing morally very questionable things for their cause, as is absolutely inevitable in a war of the sort of scale the Star Wars universe sells us. It also powerfully portrays the sacrifices that must be made in war by ordinary folk, whose names will not live on in legend or be documented in history books but whose efforts are nevertheless crucial in determining the eventual outcome of the conflict. Most people at the front lines of such battles don't come home at the conclusion, settle down with the family and live happily ever after.

I love the fact they dealt with one of the huge plot holes of the 1977 original, namely that the all-powerful Empire would build a decisive weapon with a single, exploitable flaw that could render it's utter destruction with one lucky (or force-guided) shot.

I love the fact they included Tarkin, despite the protests of some. Given that the original film established his presence on the Death Star and that he was basically (?equal) second in command of the entire Empire, he sort of had to be in the film. So he either had to be rendered in CGI in post production over an on-set actor or he had to be portrayed by another actor entirely. Given Peter Cushing's incredibly distinctive look, I know that I prefer the route the film-makers chose. Whilst I appreciate some people have apparently been unnerved by the descent into the Uncanny Valley (and I do think Leila's appearance later on looked a lot dodgier) I know people who saw the film who didn't know the character was digitally altered. I therefore suspect much of the chagrin at his appearance stems from the fact that most people know Cushing is dead, rather than because the VFX are terrible (they are in fact brilliant - for Tarkin at least).

I love the Vader scene at the end, worth the price of admission on its own even if you think the rest of the flick sucks.

For me it works as a stand alone film set within the Star Wars universe, is an effective war movie and it provides excellent service to knowledgable Star Wars fans. What's not to like?!

3.5 stars.
Peremensoe
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 2:40pm (UTC -6)
I don't know about "works as a stand alone." Imagine if you had never, and would never, see ANH. Are you satisfied with just this?
Zakalwe
Wed, Dec 28, 2016, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
@Peremensoe

As I'm sure you appreciate, it's quite hard to imagine never having seen Episode IV, but whilst this film clearly leads almost immediately into that film and references other events and characters in the Star Wars universe, it has a self-contained plot that is perfectly understandable and easy to follow for anybody that's been living in a cave for 30 years. Clearly a Star Wars virgin would miss some references that are contained within the film (Bail Organa sending a message to Obi-Wan, the bloke with the squashed up nose and his mate who cameo early here and were in the Mos Eisley cantina in ANH and the appearance of Leia at the end to name but three) but none of these materially affect the story being told in this film.
Iceman
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the consensus that the first act was very rushed and choppily edited. The film jumps to about 8 different locations or so for unrelated character introductions. That leads to my biggest issue with it, and that it violates the "show, don't tell" rule with the characters. They all basically just say who they are, which is about how deep and complex their characterizations are. There glimpses of motivations for some of them, but for the most part it's pretty thin. However, at some point in the second act, it really pulls it together, and from then on, I pretty much loved it all. The special effects are absolutely astonishing (except for Tarkin, who looked like he was pulled out of the Clone Wars animated show), and the plot is better set up than the Force Awakens (but if you've never seen a New Hope, you'll probably be sorely confused). I like that some of the rebels made some questionable moral decisions, as it makes the conflict more interesting. Overall, it's really satisfying, but not without its notable flaws. I'd say lower end of the 3.5 range.
Matte
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 2:20pm (UTC -6)
To set out my stall, I'm no Star Wars nerd, so I don't know all the in and outs of the charactors, but I think knowledgable enough to recognise the use of old footage or cgi of some of the rebel attack pilots and the death of Red 5? for Luke to take his seat.
I enjoyed TFA as it ticked all the boxes compared to the awful Lucas kiddie friendly pseudo computer game Jar Jar, race game, underwater chase, dancing on hot rocks rubbish.
So that of my chest!
Let's not forget the originals are not works of art themselves ANH and TESB are good and the third contain some really crappy stuff like the ewoks and the fire scene.
So I enjoyed Rouge one but the space battle scenes seemed over long. It nicely gets around the reason for the weakness of the Death Star. I liked the humour and the new droid. Was a little confused at the start, but was watching with the start of a cold and hangover.
Loved the fight scenes with the mix of martial arts and gun ho violence. Badgers scenes established his brutality.
The effects were superb apart from the CGI of P. Cushing, that was over used, sometimes it looked great and others times really bad, I lip read heavily although not hard of hearing and some movements were awful.
P. L at the end seemed unnecessary and could have been filmed from the rear only and really no need for the 'hope' bit to kitsch. But, after the death of Carrie Fisher it now becomes a lovely touch.
All in all 3 1/2 stars and a good film. It is after all only pretend and the idea is to enjoy it and now at 51 year old, it took me back to the thrill of the first and helps to erase the memory of the rubbish of G.L. last three attempts.
Matt
Matte
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
'Badgers' ffs the spell correction of Vader, how did that happen. Why no edit function. BTW Jammer thanks for all the reviews, I have really enjoyed them.
Peremensoe
Thu, Dec 29, 2016, 5:52pm (UTC -6)
The little-known Darth Badgers was actually the first to wear the black cyborg-samurai getup.
Nolan
Fri, Dec 30, 2016, 1:52am (UTC -6)
@Peremensoe

Great, now I'm imagining a burnt to a crisp Anakin laying on that slab whilst Palpatine parades a number of models past him, showing off all the colour options of his suit.

-Palpatine: "Perhaps you'd like a crimson red, great power colour, plus it'll hid a bloodstains you may get on it while carrying out the work of the Empire."
-Anakin: "Augh, I'm in agony here! Everything burns!"
-P: "And here for that summer chic, we have a yellow and orange colour option, great for those beach parties!"
-A: "I hate the sand."
-P: "Fine. Well just go for black. Sheesh, you try to bring some colour back into a guy's life. Nope, guess we'll just go with black for the dark lord. How original. At least Maul had some sick red tattoos. And he didn't whine nearly so much when HE go robot limbs.
JLPsquared
Wed, Jan 4, 2017, 9:11am (UTC -6)
LOVED IT!! 1st 2 acts were OK to good, but man that last act was some of the best movie making I have seen in quite a while. Second best SW movie behind Empire.

One point to all the A-holes hating on Tarkin. I did not know he was CGI until AFTER i saw the movie. During the film I remember distinctly thinking to myself how incredible the lookalike actor they found to play Tarkin looks like the original. I had no idea it was CGI. If you think there was something wrong with him you brought some pre-conceived notions with you.

As for Leah, that wasn't even close to as good as Tarkin.
Tim
Sat, Jan 7, 2017, 5:29am (UTC -6)
Rogue One isn't very good. I didn't care about any of the characters and was bored for 50% of the running time. Damn shame.
Eric
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 12:10pm (UTC -6)
I thought it was mediocre, with way too much forced humor and unsubtle attempts at fan service. The first third was a disjoined mess that jumped around needlessly with flimsy characters. The battle at the end was entertaining enough, but Leia's appearance was completely unnecessary. The NPR play from the 80's told a far better tale of Leia obtaining the death star plans. They could have easily made this film with just a slight change without completely trampling that story. I'm not sure what's more frustrating, the fact that Lucas sat on the property for so long that Fisher now won't be able to finish the third trilogy (RIP) or the fact that Disney's treatment seems to lack the mythical magic of the originals. I love Star Wars and will continue to see these films, but my expectations for subsequent installments are diminishing.
Trent
Sun, Jan 15, 2017, 10:13am (UTC -6)
From the hack that brought you Godzilla and Monsters comes "Rogue One", a cynical excercise in capitalist nihillism. Soullerssly rolled out by Disney - much like Apple rolls out needless Ipod varients every product cycle - this latest iteration of Star Wars comes complete with all the bells and whistles designed to keep every moron temporarily distracted.

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