Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Time to read: 4 minutes

Didn’t really think I’d be plowing through four Star Wars movies in the span of about two days, but that’s what’s happened.  This evening I watched “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” with my family.  I was originally planning on watching just the numbered movies in this watch through, but decided to add Rogue One to the mix, as it’s a brilliant lead in to Episode IV.   So here’s a few words about this one..

The first time I saw this, I wasn’t sure what to think.  It’s the first time I’d seen a Star Wars movie without anyone named Skywalker.  Turns out that concern was misplaced, this movie was excellent.  My wife even said it’s her favorite overall Star Wars film.  While I wouldn’t go quite that far (Empire), Rogue One is a great movie.  It’s got a good plot, seems well acted, and some timely and not in your face humor.  I also know a couple of the actors from other things..

  • Felicity Jones (from a David Tennant episode of Doctor Who: ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’)
  • Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre in the 007 film “Casino Royale”)
  • Forest Whitaker (in just about everything I think, but most recently the MCU film “Black Panther”)
  • James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader)
  • There’s a handful of Star Wars veterans in this. Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma) & Anthony Daniels (C3PO) are in this.
  • Finally, one of the Death Star technicians was played by Richard Franklin, who I know fairly well as “Mike Yates” from the 70’s era of Doctor Who.

I had no real problems with the casting, it all seemed good, even the stupid – almost Anakin Skywalker level of whiny Orson Krennic in the movie.  But that’s character based, really doesn’t have much to do with Ben Mendelsohn, the actor.

Random thoughts, both good and bad…

  • AT-AT’s are still really easy to blow up and make fall down.  How that design got produced in the first place seems a mystery to me.
  • Loved the blind “semi-Jedi” guy, Chirrut Îmwe. Thought his character worked especially well.   “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”
  • The K-2SO robot was a riot.  A sarcastic robot is right up my alley.  Reminded me a bit of Marvin the Paranoid Android.
  • Had some really great battle sequences.  A particular favorite was then they crashed one Star Destroyer into another, causing one to fall into the planet’s atmosphere.  Always wondered why there weren’t more space collisions in these kinds of movies.
  • They went and re-created Grand Moff Tarkin, who was played by the late actor Peter Cushing (also in Doctor Who, but never mind).  Cushing has been gone for some time, so the version of him that was in here was 100% digital.  It was a cute idea, but I’m not 100% sold on how well it worked.  Some scenes looked more fake than others.  It mostly worked, but if they had chosen some other general I might have bought it more.
  • They did this also with Princess Leia.  As the film is an IMMEDIATE lead-in to Episode IV, they recreated Carrie Fisher, too.  Now this was done before she died, and Fisher knew about it.  As with Tarkin, they had an actress on stage, and superimposed a face on there.  This worked better, as digital Leia was only on screen for about 15-20 seconds, and uttered a single word, “Hope”.  So this one worked better.  I didn’t have a problem with this one, primarily because it was used for effect, not as a full on interactive character.
  • There’s two scenes with Darth Vader in this movie.  One involves him talking to Krennic, and is pretty much exposition.  The other was when he tried to board Leia’s ship (which we see in the beginning of Episode IV, and the end of Episode III).  He doesn’t make it, but his attempt to get on board had him kicking the ass of every tech in the hallway he was in.  Was pretty much a “Get the F out of my way” type tirade.  Loved the scene – was well lit with the hallway being fairly dark (but not black), with Vader’s red lightsaber sticking out really well in contrast.

Something else that’s interesting is that text crawl for the original Star Wars movie (now Episode IV) is basically what’s going on in this movie.  Didn’t really realize that until now.

Episode IV, A NEW HOPE It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy….

Finally, in reading about the movie online tonight I discovered this bit of news.  Quite happy to see that, as there’s really nowhere to go with a sequel to Rogue One, as the sequel already exists – the original Star Wars film!  Anyway, here’s the update..  “On November 8, 2018, it was announced that a live-action prequel series was officially in development and set air on Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+. The series will take place before the events in Rogue One and will focus on Cassian Andor with Diego Luna reprising the role. Additionally, Alan Tudyk is also reprising his role as K-2SO”.

My Summary

  • Biggest Problem: There isn’t much – CGI on Tarkin, perhaps?  
  • Biggest Strength: Well paced, really fun action movie, more-so than some of the conventional Star Wars films.
  • Overall Rating: A

I know it doesn’t seem like I’m saying a lot, but the film is quite solid all the way through.   It’s a great story, and shows that you can do a Star Wars movie without most of the established characters.  Yeah, there’s some old ones here, but they’re not the primary focus.  The main focus here is all new characters, and this worked. Bodes well, if they’re going to abandon the Skywalker concept after the next movie.

Original Trailer

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