(Spoiler Free) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Review
I went in to Rogue One with what could honeslty be considered unfairly high expectations. While The Force Awakens was a flashy, and all round brilliant remake of Star Wars, Rogue One gave the opportunity for a new story to be told within the Star Wars universe, and the story it delivered was a quite frankly wonderful experience, that fully met, and in some ways exceeded every expectation I’d had. A spoiler review is, in no way going to be as comprehensive as one with the liberty to go into more detail on plot points, but hopefully the next 500 words will give you an idea of just how phenomal this film is, and why.
The film follows Jyn Erso, portrayed brilliantly by Felicity Jones, along with a team of rebels, along their discovery and aqquisition of the plans of the first Death Star, as the Empire are finishing and testing said super weapon, which is all I’ll say on the plot as I implore everyone and anyone, Star Wars fan or not, to see this film and would be loathe to ruin even the slightest part. While, in many ways, the path the film takes along the plot is clear from the start, and any prior knowledge of the events of Star Wars gives you a strong, even definite, idea of how it will end, it manages to reamin tense, emotional, and gripping throughout the entirity of it’s 2 and a quarter hour run time, with the third act ramping it up to 11 as it ends in what is, essentially, a war film. The whole film, infact, is very much a war film, and by far the darkest entry in the Star Wars universe to date, with every moment over cast with a feeling of hopelessness and dread, again, all culminating in a brutal and final act. The overall dark tone of the film is masterfully broken up by Alan Tudyks phenomenal performance as K-2S0, the obligatory droid and comic relief, along with countless nods to the original trilogy, too numerous and close to spoiler territory to mention, but which, along with the rest of the “feel” of the film, something which is hard to explain to words, makes it the first film since Return of the Jedi to truly feel like an original Star Wars film something which Force Awakens, despite all it’s brilliance, didn’t quite have.
The reshoots that were announced to be happening several months ago do really show when the film is compared to the trailers, with several scenes that were evidently filmed to take place in the third act not making it in, and (this is the closes I’ll come to spoilers) a few moments of Darth Vader seemingly cut, and while watching the film I honestly forgot about the reshoots until I saw someone else mention them. The Vader we were given in what was left, is an undeniably terrifying one, and the criticisms levelled at him not acting as he did in Star Wars are seemingly petty and ignore years of advancement in the film industry, and an excellent use of said advancement for a truly excellent, and just purely fun scene.
No film is perfect however, and while my two real issues with the film are incredibly small in the grand scheme of things, they still need mentioning. The film is the first in the Star Wars franchise to put planet names on screen, something that in my personal opinion, doesn’t fit with the feel of Star Wars. The other issue, while more still not too significant is more serious, but again is treading dangerously close to spoiler territory. In the simplest, most spoiler free way possible, one character is not given enough screen time to properly have the emotional and plot influencing weight that he could have.
Those two issues are however, so easy to overlook, so easy to forget, and so insignificant, when the settings, the characters, the ships, the costumes and a whole plethora of little “Star Wars” things too numerous and intangible to list make Rogue One a truly beautiful entry into the Star Wars anthology, and a film which wonderfully surpassed all personal expectations I had for it.