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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)


We’re like all connected, man.

After her mother is killed and father (Mads Mikkelsen) is taken from here at the age of 16, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has set her sights out on for her whole life to take down the Empire, in whatever way she can. After receiving a random message from him that he has plans on how to destroy the almighty Death Star, Jyn sets out with a group of fellow rebellious souls who, in one way or another, want to hope for a better world and future that isn’t so controlled by the Empire. One such person is Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a Captain who has definitely done a whole lot in his life that he’s not proud of, but knows to push all of that to the side in hopes that he and the rest of these ragtag folks will be able to hurt the Empire where it hurts the most.

Oh yeah, and it’s somehow all connected to A New Hope, which isn’t a spoiler and trust me, you won’t soon forget about, considering that the movie seems to remind us just about every second that it’s all tied together, through some way. Which isn’t all that bad because yes, it is a prequel of some sorts and yes, it is taking place within this universe that we all practically know by heart, so it would make obvious sense that they would try and tie it all in, make constant references, and give greater context to things we’ve been mulling over since the first one was released nearly 40 years ago.

Leia and Han? Kind of. But more British and Hispanic.

Leia and Han? Kind of. But more British and Hispanic.

That said, a movie should stand on its own, prequel or not, and honestly, that’s where Rogue One sort of falls short.

You basically have to know everything that they’re talking about here and if you don’t, well, then you’re going to feel left out. The one good aspect surrounding the fact that the movie hearkens back to the original so much is that director Gareth Edwards films the movie to where it’s kind of goofy and light, but at the same time, still incredibly stylish and polished to where it still feels especially modern. In fact, it’s hard not to look at Rogue One and see not just how much money was put into it, but how much time, effort and care was put into assuring that the movie had the look and feel of the other movies, yet, still sort of its own thing.

Sure, it’s a movie that connects one too many times to the other flicks and has to remind us incessantly about the larger universe that we already definitely know about, but when this baby’s moving and not focusing a whole lot on what it’s plot is going to turn out to be, it’s quick an enjoyable ride. Edwards definitely knows how to film action -whether it’s on the ground, or in space, or between a bunch of foot-soldiers, or androids – and to do so in a manner that’s compelling, as well as comprehensible, is definitely a step-up from the rest of what we get in the world of summer blockbusters and shaky-cam.

Then again, as good as the action may be, there’s still something that Rogue One lacks in and that’s good, substantial and above all else, memorable characters that, in the many, many years to come, we’ll never get out of our heads and/or stop quoting.

Basically, I’m talking about another Darth Vader, or Han Solo, or Yoda, or hell, even Luke, which doesn’t of interest to Rogue One. And okay, yes, that’s fine – I understand that it’s hard to sometimes strike gold twice when it comes to lovely, absolutely memorable characters and of course, they have a high order to work against, but still, anything would have helped here. Not just a certain trait that lasts long in our mind, but anything.

Rogue One seems to know how to bring all of these shady, random characters from all walks of life together, give them a mission to work towards and basically leave it at that. There’s nothing to any of them, with the exception of a particular set of skill that they’re able to utilize in the heat of the battle, which makes it feel like we’re watching a bunch of characters that we’re supposed to like, sympathize with, and root for, all because of what they’re doing, but it’s kind of hard when we don’t really know any of them. We get some small bits and pieces among the whole talented ensemble, but it still feels like perhaps the movie is holding back on something to keep us glued on to me, until it eventually shows its hand and, well, there’s not much there.

Sorry, Darth. Not as vicious anymore.

Sorry, Darth. Not as vicious anymore.

We’re supposed to care and roll with it, because well, it’s fun and it’s Star Wars. So why should we complain?

Well, it’s easy to complain when you have the talented likes of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, and Jiang Wen, all doing material that allows them to have a few lines or so every once and awhile, along with a lot of kicking, punching, shooting and fun stuff like that. And of course, I’m not complaining that the movie takes their fighting habits, over their, I don’t know, real life, human habits, but it definitely doesn’t help that every character feels like sketches of someone/something far more interesting that either wasn’t filmed, or cut-out of the final product entirely.

Yen’s blind jedi-like character is pretty bad-ass and honestly, makes me want to see him more and more, but blindness and ass-kicking is pretty much all he gets; Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO droid is memorable because he’s a lot like C3PO, but much more violent and witty, stealing most of the scenes it’s in; Luna’s character tries a little hard to be Han Solo and mostly just feels like a far distant cousin; Ahmed’s barely here; Mendelsohn and Mikkelsen are pros at trash and can elevate anything that they’re working with; Whitaker is pretty bad here, but it seems like he was left without much to do; Wen is there to aid Yen’s character and gets to partake in some bad-assery, but what purpose her serves is never fully explained; and yes, Jones’ Jyn Erso, while not necessarily the most memorable heroine to exist in sci-fi, she still gets the job done, showing us someone we can trust in, but also want to know more and more about, in between all of the planning, and shooting, and killing.

Maybe I showed up to the wrong movie.

Consensus: Stylish and exciting, Rogue One definitely delivers on the epic, grand-scale action that’s become synonymous with Star Wars by now, but also substitutes most of that for a standalone story, with well-written, memorable characters.

7 / 10

True besties.

True besties.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

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10 responses to “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

  1. Three Rows Back December 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Looks like you share my enthusiasm for this Dan. I had a blast with it. It’s not perfect but it’s a great ride.

  2. Mr. Movie December 17, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    Agreed … really had a great time with Rogue One!

  3. Chris Evans December 18, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Some fair points Dan, I think some of the action rivalled TFA – particularly in the final act. K2 was a great dark mirrored version of C3PO!

    All in all ‘puts us on’ until Episode VIII…

  4. animeindianphilospher December 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    The movie overall is fine but without likable characters ending feels kind of short. When Han Solo died I was on verge of crying but when nearly all characters died I this movie I didn’t felt a thing except for that droid. This is the biggest nitpick I had with this movie, other than that it was just fine.

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  6. Darth Gandalf December 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    Even though I gave it a 9/10 I still was a little conflicted. I think from a techncial standpoint it’s probably the best. But my one friend came out yelling that it was the greatest Star Wars ever blah blah blah. I was like ok let’s take the Star Wars goggles off please. Even though Force Awakens was a soft reboot I like it better than this. The characters in TFA are more charismatic and I’ll always have a more emotional connection to the saga than these one offs. But the potential for these oneoffs I mean the sky’s the limit. Lots I want to see. And we’ll be seeing Star Wars films til we are all on our death beds. It’s become a James Bond situation. And I am so ok with that.

  7. Felicity December 21, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    Rogue One is the best Star Wars film I’ve seen since Return of the Jedi and captured the feel of the original trilogy better than any of the other previous attempts. I think it is a much better film than The Force Awakens and darker. The new characters were all interesting and unique. The battle sequences and special effects were exceptional. It had new creatures that actually fit in well to that universe. There were many characters from the original 1977 film as well. A large portion of the theatre clapped several times throughout and especially at the shockingly great ending. Had a little bit of the film Melancholia in it which was fascinating for a Star Wars movie. Definitely worth seeing.

  8. ianthecool December 22, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    Wow, a lot of people are liking the blind character.

  9. ghostof82 December 23, 2016 at 2:26 am

    I wonder how much this film ‘works’ simply because it is so deliberately one film with no larger multi-film arc for the main characters? And yet at the same time it is always so mindful to reference Episode 4. Theres this weird dichotomy going on. Its self-contained and yet dependant on us fans getting our kicks from cgi Tarkin and Leia and all those other nods to Episode 4.

    I wonder if they might one day try a similar trick with an Episode 4.5 concerning events prior to the rebels arriving at Hoth or a Episode 5.5 that tracks Fett back to Tattooine or the rebels discovering the Death Star 2. The extension of Star Wars beyond the Skywalkers is a liberating prospect.

  10. Pingback: Movie Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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