Rogue One has weak characters, good action

Niklas A. Hegg, Staff Writer

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review

7/10

As a film series, Star Wars is one of the most influential of all time. Since 1977, the movie has changed to world of filmmaking. After the disappointing prequels of the 90s, Disney bought the franchise and has launched a new Star Wars cinematic universe.

The first film released was 2015’s The Force Awakens, which is in my top 3 favorites of the franchise. But instead of next producing another sequel,  Rogue One goes in between episode 3 and 4 to help fill in some gaps.

Following the life of Jyn Erso, Rogue One takes us on the journey of how the rebels took the plans for the first Death Star from Episode 4: A New Hope.

Jyn, played by Felicity Jones, is the daughter of Galen Erso, played by the talented Mads Mikkelsen from movies such as Doctor Strange and Casino Royale. As Jyn’s father, Galen, works for The Empire to help build the infamous Death Star. However he secretly disagrees with The Empire’s ideals and hides a secret weak spot inside of the machine for The Rebel Alliance to find.

So other than the story, which is strong enough, how does everything else hold up? Well, as for the acting it’s strong. Episode 7 had some really talented actors, such as Daisey Ridley. The film itself is a little less impressive.

It’s not the fault of the actors. I’d say it’s the fault of writing and maybe direction. There was an extreme lack of character development. I knew quite a bit about Jyn, but I didn’t really care for her or the others on the team. In scenes meant to have emotional weight, I didn’t experience any sadness. It’s not always that their backstory isn’t good, it’s also the fact that everyone seemed to be a dull jerk. But, there are some exceptions.

Chirrut Imwe, played by Donnie Yen from Ip Man, played a likeable blind force believer. He had some pretty funny lines and some really cool scenes. He was interesting and I actually wish I knew more about him. However, the mystery of his story makes him more interesting much like Boba Fett from the original trilogy. The droid K-2SO was voiced by Alan Tudyk and he was an extremely likeable character as Tudyk really pulled it off for the comic relief.

 

The film also features several cameos from the original trilogy. Some appeared for only seconds as a little easter egg for fan service. Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba from A New Hope’s cantina scene, appeared for only for a few seconds. I liked some of these little throwbacks but at a certain point it starts to get annoying. It’s like I understand that I’m watching a Star Wars movie, you don’t need to keep reminding me.

Larger cameos included Darth Vader. He has only a few scenes but they were extremely effective and satisfying. His last scene (without spoiling anything) was magnificent and let us see him like never before.

SPOILER ALERT Another character from the past included the infamous Grand Moff Tarkin. Since Peter Cushing, the original actor, is no longer with us, they superimposed his face with CGI to recreate his face. They did an amazing job. It wasn’t obvious and the writing for his character was amazing. It reminded viewers of thecharacter’s despicable nature.

The pacing in the movie is one of its greatest weaknesses. I got bored through acts one and two. I really should not get bored in a Star Wars movie. The pacing was slow and the action, if there was any, wasn’t always extremely gripping. As for the third act, it was the best. From the action to the special effects, it was all really impressive. Instead of the movie about being Jedis fighting, we get to see the soldiers fight.

We see the moral grey area that even the good guys face. That is especially evident through Diego Luna’s character, Cassian Ador. As a spy. he has to make some intense decisions to do what is best for the greater good.

As for the overall feel of the movie, you can obviously tell it is Star Wars. But- there is something off about the whole experience. JJ Abrams made you feel extremely nostalgic from just a well-framed shot. But when Rogue One adds shaky cam, it just feels a bit off. From the beginning, there’s already something missing, the opening scroll. And, for the first time in any Star Wars movie, we get title cards for location. That doesn’t really change my opinion that much, but it certainly feels a bit off.

Overall, I think Rogue One is good, but not as strong as The Force Awakens. It was a fun ride toward the end, but its biggest weakness is the pacing. With more interesting writing and better directing, it could have been more engaging. When you hire the director of the new Godzilla, Gareth Edwards, you can expect to experience some cliches. I give Rogue One a 7/10.

 

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