A year ago when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, I gave them the chance to draw me into the Star Wars Universe that previous movies were unable to do. After watching that film, while I still have my concerns about what direction Disney will take the franchise, I enjoyed what John Boyega and Daisy Ridley brought to the table and remained consciously optimistic.
Fast forward to the summer and news of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had me more pessimistic about the shape of the Star Wars universe. Over the Spring and Summer, news and rumors of 6-8 weeks of reshoots due to the fact that original version of the movie was ‘too serious’ and ‘didn’t have enough Star Wars in it’. After not doing well with a test audience, there was also word of adding more humor to the film as well. My interest heading into this film was pretty low and I’m starting to sense a disturbance in the force.
Rouge One’s timeline is set right before the events of A New Hope. The story begins with a family fleeing the forces of Imperial Military. A scientist by the name of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is wanted to create a new weapon capable of destroying planets. Galen is captured and his wife is killed. His daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones), manages to flee and is saved by a rebel named Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Fifteen years later, Jyn is all grown up and back under Imperial imprisonment. When members of the Rebel Alliance see an opportunity to use Jyn in an attempt to find and kill her father and stop the creation of the new weapon, Jyn is sent out to find her father and obtain the plans to destroy the Death Star without knowing the team she is with wants to kill him.
The first hour of this film had all but confirmed many of my concerns as not only did I not enjoy it, but I was quite bored for a couple of reasons. Starting with the main character of Jyn, I couldn’t help but feel she was a really weak character overall. Besides looking like Katniss Everdeen, her character was given so little to work with; it was hard for her to ever stand out as anything more than a weak protagonist. Outside of being written as an important character, at no point do you really buy her as the leader, Instead, she feels like someone who just happens to be mixed up in a political chess game.
Another big problem I had is that as the film progressed I started to wonder, is this the same film I watched just a year ago? The Force Awakens starts off with a girl whose story is largely unknown, she is recruited by the resistance to take on the evil empire, the rebel forces debate in a small room on how to destroy the new death star and the Rebel forces fight in space a bunch. Now I admit that I may be oversimplifying things here but considering many people thought The Force Awakens was a remake of A New Hope, I found it odd that this movie was tolling so many lines from that film as well.
Now don’t be fooled, I don’t hate this film as two things really saved it for me: Donnie Yen and the ending. Donnie plays Chirrut Îmwe, a blind fighter who faith relies upon in the force. Chirrut is basically Daredevil with an ability to shoot better but he is funny and a complete bad ass. My only disappointment with him was that they didn’t do more with him in the film. The final act is very good and completely brought me back into the film. A Rouge unit of rebel fighters goes into Scarif in order to steal the Death Star schematics and bring down the Empire’s greatest weapon.
The set pieces and the effects in the third act are amazing and I love the idea of filming Laamu Atoll which adds extra beauty to the scenery. The ending isn’t the typical ‘heroes win’ ending and you can see the effects of the reshoots that took place. Now I say this if they had left the ending as is, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. However, we all know Disney is not the outlet to expect Dark dramas with gritty endings and I get that. However, reshoots do have me worried that the studio heads are relying too much on Nostalgia and callbacks of previous Star Wars films rather than taking a chance on a standalone movie like this actually standing alone.
The journey of Rouge One is a rough one but by film’s end, I was satisfied with the conclusion and overall product. I do hope that in the future, Disney decides to release the original director version of this film so we can compare and contrast who’s vision was better in the long run but as a one-off prequel, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a solid footnote in the ever-expanding Star Wars Timeline.
I enjoyed the overall cast of characters in this movie much more than I did Force Awakens and this at least gave me faith in the standalone film series. As far as the Main Storyline, I’ll reserve my final judgment for Star Wars: Episode VIII next December.
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17 thoughts on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review: The ONLY Solid Disney Star Wars Movie”
I probably need to watch this again, but god I don’t want to. If, as you said, they made this a straight drama with action elements, maybe built up everyone a bit more so you cared, I think this would have been a decent film. But it honestly felt these characters were made just as an ends to a means. They wanted to explain an issue Star Wars fans had for years with the Death Star and so they built a story around it. One just good enough to be rushed into a off year when the main series won’t have a release.
Agreed, The reason I can’t give this movie too much praise is because one of the biggest reasons for the reshoots was because Disney felt the movie was too dark and didn’t have a ‘star wars’ feel meaning alot of callbacks to the orginal. This movie was basically suppose to be a Star Wars War film and the test audience with Disney didn’t like it and they thought the ending was too depression. I want to believe the director had a better vision and studio interference got in the way but we may never know
Which is a damn shame. I mean, it isn’t like Star Wars is a light hearted story. Hundreds of people die in every movie. We don’t, strangely, see blood or gore, but when ships crash, people get shot, and things like that, it doesn’t scream pg. It would be nice for all that violence to be paired with some weight rather than selective memory and a lack of moral consciousness.
I know but just like the Marvel, Disney clearly doesn’t want to move their properties into a darker direction on film in fear of losing money marketing to a more mature audiences
Which bothers me so much. Isn’t that why they used to, or still do, have production studios which are under the Disney umbrella but don’t have the Disney logo on them? Though Fox has sort of butchered the X-Men franchise, I like the fact they make them more than comical characters who occasionally have a serious moment. They seem, despite the supernatural stuff, just a bit more real.
At this point they just care more about their bottom line, hopefully they don’t become complacent and just expect every film to net a billion dollar profit
Honestly, with the way their in house Marvel films are, I think they have reached that point already.
I’m not at all invested in Star Wars. This was as okay as anything else to me. Sean thought it was a little cheesy.
When are you gonna do Assassin’s Creed
Watching It tonight, Review likely up tomorrow or Thursday
Wonderful review, really.
I thought Rogue One was excellent and really mapped in well with the Star Wars Timeline. Unlike yourself I am a bit of a fanboy so maybe that was the reason for my love of it.
I need to correct a comment above. The re-shoots were done to if anything make the film darker as they end up killing characters off instead of as they had previously to keep some of them alive.
See my review for a biased Review hahaha.
Interesting, considering I dislike this movie and give it a 40/100 grade. I still can’t see why so many people think it is ok. The movie is a boring disaster in all fronts. Jin Erso is not likeable or interesting at all, she’s almost as bad as Rey is. And I *am* a girl saying this, I’m supposedly the kind of people they want to please and are failing completely.
Perhaps people think this movie is decent because it isn’t as bad as TFA or TLJ.
But it isn’t good either.
Yeah, I hear your point about the film being boring, It was a pretty rough movie up until the last 30 minutes. Also, they completely changed the movie after they already shot it so what we saw in theaters was nowhere near the original product. Prehaps Rouge One doesn’t hold up as well but it’s still the best Disney Star Wars film, which isn’t saying much of anything.