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Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Eric W.'s Take)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Eric W.'s Take)
12.16.2016
8 10

Check out Chris Bumbray's review right HERE.

PLOT: A small group of insurgents is sent by the Rebel Alliance to find the plans to the Empire's recently-completed planet-destroying weapon, the Death Star before it becomes fully operational.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS, BUT VERY FEW PLOT DETAILS.

REVIEW: ROGUE ONE is a fairly good movie until it becomes a pretty damn great one. For a little more than half its running time, Gareth Edwards' prequel is an acceptably enjoyable, it not exactly thrilling, affair. It has characters we dig but don't love, a story that's engaging but predictable (and then some), and visuals that are attractive without being especially memorable. But at a certain point - I'm not sure when, exactly, as I have to see it again - it kicks into hyperdrive and commences blowing you away. All of those elements, the characters, the story, the visuals, are immediately heightened and packed with portent and excitement. The third act of ROGUE ONE is so great, so very "Star Wars," that it easily lifts the rest of the movie up with it, leaving you with an experience that is incredibly satisfying.

Rogue One Star Wars review Felicity Jones Diego Luna Gareth Edwards

It doesn't quite have the heart, you might say, of THE FORCE AWAKENS, if we're to compare it to the most recent STAR WARS flick. (I probably don't have to say that it's the best STAR WARS prequel ever, but I will anyway.) With Rey and Finn (and BB-8), J.J. Abrams effortlessly introduced two lovable characters into the STAR WARS universe, necessarily injecting new blood into a movie that was otherwise overwhelmingly familiar. ROGUE ONE doesn't have characters that are as winning as those, and its tone is more dour, more severe; if it's lacking anything, it's people you can't get enough of. But what it does have that FORCE AWAKENS doesn't, especially in that final act, is incredible tension and urgency. I really like THE FORCE AWAKENS, but a nailbiter it is not. Even most movie fans will know where ROGUE ONE eventually leads, it manages to cast such an impressively taut spell with its ticking clock scenario and adrenaline-fueled finale that I genuinely felt chills crawl up my spine as it concluded. That rarely happens with blockbusters nowadays

In an effort to be as spoiler free as possible, I won't explain the plot. As it is, it's fairly simple. Our protagonist, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is tasked with one of the most infamous missions of all Star Warsdom, that of stealing the plans for the Death Star so that the rebel fleet can ultimately attack and (spoiler alert) destroy it. Along for the ride are your prototypical ragtag group of rugged warriors and outcasts: There's Cassian (Diego Luna), a stern, militant member of the rebellion who does whatever it takes to get the job done, at the cost of others' lives and his own conscience; K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Cassian's droid co-pilot (he's basically a cranky C-3PO); Bodhi (Riz Ahmed), a defector from the Empire who has information crucial to the mission; Chirrut and Baze (Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, respectively), a couple of protectors of a temple that's being razed by imperial forces so they can build the Death Star. This motley gang will have to survive all sorts of threats and impediments to secure the information needed to bring down the villains, the main one being Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the glowering head of the Death Star project.

Rogue One Star Wars review Felicity Jones Diego Luna Gareth Edwards

When it's setting up the parallel stories of Jyn and Cassian, ROGUE ONE more or less adheres to the "men on a mission" formula, checking off many boxes by making our leads morally hazy though genuinely good people who find themselves stuck with one another whether they like it or not. But fans looking for any kind of sexually charged, snarky wordplay from the two protagonists will walk away disappointed. Though they often don't see eye to eye, Jyn and Cassian are a mostly fun-free pair. The performances are on point, but it can't be said that they are the most exciting duo. In terms of acting, Luna usually outshines Jones during their bevy of stone-faced confrontations. She is good, but the character is one-note, while Luna's Cassian is a little more intriguing. Thankfully, the ensemble element of ROGUE ONE is critical, and the supporting players do their part to lift up some of the dour intensity permeating from the two leads. Yen and Wen in particular have some brief moments of tangible chemistry that will have fans clamoring for a prequel to this prequel, one focusing solely on those two and their long, tumultuous friendship. K-2SO's wisecracks are sometimes a little forced, but he (it?) too eventually becomes a welcome presence, alleviating situations that usually need a little levity.

On the dark side of the force, Mendelsohn is game to infuse Krennic with just enough pouty bitterness that the villain is a bit more entertaining than he might have been. (On paper he's pretty much a standard Imperial jerk.) Not unlike Anakin before him or Kylo Ren after him, Krennic continues the STAR WARS tradition of vaguely insecure villains with major chips on their shoulder; he talks a big game, but you can tell he punches the wall when he's alone. Looming over Krennic are old favorites Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones, natch) and Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing); as ROGUE ONE is set so closely to A NEW HOPE, their presence is necessary, and thankfully we get just enough Vader without it feeling like piled on fan service. (He does have one standout moment that made my inner fanboy screech with delight.) The inclusion of Tarkin, however, is a slight mistake. I love Peter Cushing's portrayal of the regal baddie just as much as anyone else, and the film's attempt to bring the actor back to life via elaborate CGI is commendable, but the effect is never convincing. I found myself rather bummed out by the POLAR EXPRESS-ish look to Tarkin and often wished they kept him hidden in the shadows. As it is, Tarkin is in the film quite a bit, and he's usually a distraction. (That said, there's another character brought to life utilizing the same technology and the result is rather excellent; helps that it's a brief glimpse.)

Rogue One Star Wars review Felicity Jones Diego Luna Gareth Edwards

Cinematography, editing, production design, costumes, etc. are all top notch, and the visual effects (save for the Tarkin bit) are really beyond amazing. Make-up and creature effects are all superb, no surprise. As can be counted upon, there are loads of wondrous aliens filling the screen at almost every turn. A second viewing is demanded just to take everything in.

Though it does pepper in several fun moments and invigorating action sequences, ROGUE ONE is a sober film, the most "serious" in the series save for, I suppose, REVENGE OF THE SITH (with its thoroughly depressing second half). The light touch found in THE FORCE AWAKENS is replaced by an austere atmosphere; this is a war movie, after all, and the feeling that things are pretty bleak in this galaxy is quite real. I appreciated the intensity; it gives ROGUE ONE its own personality, ensuring it's not an entry off the assembly line. There may come a time when the STAR WARS movies Disney intends to churn out grow rote and soulless, but it has not happened here.

About that denouement, though. I can't stress enough how incredibly rousing the last act of this movie is. Impressively cutting between several different action sequences (think the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI), Edwards and his editors hammer home so many thrilling - and scary - moments that you barely have a chance to catch a breath. The last few minutes in particular are so insanely geek-friendly that you'll probably find yourself racing home to commence a STAR WARS marathon ASAP. Maybe I'm overselling it, but I don't think so. Though it ends on a bittersweet note, the film's wild finale is uplifting for the simplest of reasons: We've been given another STAR WARS movie that genuinely kicks ass.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:27AM on 12/29/2016
Gotcha, totally agree. I was talking about the terrible, wooden acting of the 'The Force Awakens". The prequel trilogy has some genius acting thru out.

Really the biggest acting change in the original trilogy over all the movies, is Hamil's performance in Empire, he pulls off two very impressive performances opposite nothing but a puppet or a guy in black face mask. Whole chunks of Empire are solely dependent on his believability in grounding the gimmicks. That's what Kerschner helped bring,
Gotcha, totally agree. I was talking about the terrible, wooden acting of the 'The Force Awakens". The prequel trilogy has some genius acting thru out.

Really the biggest acting change in the original trilogy over all the movies, is Hamil's performance in Empire, he pulls off two very impressive performances opposite nothing but a puppet or a guy in black face mask. Whole chunks of Empire are solely dependent on his believability in grounding the gimmicks. That's what Kerschner helped bring, but even thru Jedi with a different director Marquand (who many claim was completely sidelined by Lucas), Hamil does a great job.
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10:24PM on 12/18/2016
Pretty much the same way Ben Skywalker and Jacen Solo from the Expanded Universe got rolled into one Kylo Ren, Disney did it again with Star Wars Dark Forces characters tinkered into Rogue One. Thankfully with more favorable results this time. I find Felicity Jones' character totally lacking in charisma as the lead, which makes the first act of the movie boring as hell until they pick up more stragglers to their cause. Overall it's a movie that works aside from its flaws. The one and done
Pretty much the same way Ben Skywalker and Jacen Solo from the Expanded Universe got rolled into one Kylo Ren, Disney did it again with Star Wars Dark Forces characters tinkered into Rogue One. Thankfully with more favorable results this time. I find Felicity Jones' character totally lacking in charisma as the lead, which makes the first act of the movie boring as hell until they pick up more stragglers to their cause. Overall it's a movie that works aside from its flaws. The one and done nature of the film makes it unique, though. It's kind of like Guardians of The Galaxy as one of the better 'spinoff' of the MCU, but we likely won't ever get a sequel. Unless it's about Bothans. Oh who am I kidding. Nobody cares about the Bothans.
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+0
10:40PM on 12/17/2016
Except for the last 20 minutes and Vader, this movie was boring and with uninteresting characters.
Except for the last 20 minutes and Vader, this movie was boring and with uninteresting characters.
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7:09PM on 12/16/2016

Loved it

I totally agree with your comments regarding Tarkin - it never looked completely real, but you know what - I'd rather have that than having him be completely in shadow all the time or not be in the movie at all. He was a 100% necessary presence. I personally would have found it more of a gaffe to minimally.not include the guy that ends up being the commanding officer of the Death Star. It was the lesser of two evils, and I'm glad they took it.
I totally agree with your comments regarding Tarkin - it never looked completely real, but you know what - I'd rather have that than having him be completely in shadow all the time or not be in the movie at all. He was a 100% necessary presence. I personally would have found it more of a gaffe to minimally.not include the guy that ends up being the commanding officer of the Death Star. It was the lesser of two evils, and I'm glad they took it.
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7:55PM on 12/16/2016
The only reason I have a gripe about Tarkin (it gets better on 2nd viewing btw) is that I compare it to the work Weta did with Paul Walker after he sadly passed away during f&f7.
The only reason I have a gripe about Tarkin (it gets better on 2nd viewing btw) is that I compare it to the work Weta did with Paul Walker after he sadly passed away during f&f7.
6:09PM on 12/16/2016

FUCKIN AMAZING

Thats all. Seriously, thats all I gotta say. the last 40 or so mins of this movie is so insane and I love the what they did too esp some sad moments as well.
Thats all. Seriously, thats all I gotta say. the last 40 or so mins of this movie is so insane and I love the what they did too esp some sad moments as well.
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1:26PM on 12/16/2016

Unbe-fn-lievable

This was Star Wars. This was what Ep 7 needed. Gareth Edwards pulled off some smart moves and the crew accomplished amazing tricks that will blow your damn mind. It the absolute best piece of work from Star Wars universe since Empire Strikes Back. Dare I say I may have liked it more? And yes...the last 20 minutes will soil your seats! Buckle up for this one folks.
This was Star Wars. This was what Ep 7 needed. Gareth Edwards pulled off some smart moves and the crew accomplished amazing tricks that will blow your damn mind. It the absolute best piece of work from Star Wars universe since Empire Strikes Back. Dare I say I may have liked it more? And yes...the last 20 minutes will soil your seats! Buckle up for this one folks.
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+1
12:49PM on 12/16/2016

Yen and wen prequel

This time directed by the other Gareth...
This time directed by the other Gareth...
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2:00PM on 12/16/2016
I see what you did there and I approve wholeheartedly.
I see what you did there and I approve wholeheartedly.
3:18PM on 12/16/2016
Haha thanks!
Haha thanks!
12:46PM on 12/16/2016

Also... Vader making puns

Again...loved the movie, but Vader's choke pun was the more cringe worthy than anything in the prequels.
Again...loved the movie, but Vader's choke pun was the more cringe worthy than anything in the prequels.
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12:44PM on 12/16/2016

Loved the movie, but...

In regards to Polar Express Tarkin. It was all in the mouth. It moved too smoothly, articulated every single sound he made. Humans don't talk like that. Peter Cushing didn't move his mouth that much. Krennic didn't when he was talking to Tarkin. there were simply too many lingering shots of Tarkin and too much work done on his mouth movements, when real life actors or human beings simply don't talk like that. The first shot of him with the shadows and reflection was great and I wish his
In regards to Polar Express Tarkin. It was all in the mouth. It moved too smoothly, articulated every single sound he made. Humans don't talk like that. Peter Cushing didn't move his mouth that much. Krennic didn't when he was talking to Tarkin. there were simply too many lingering shots of Tarkin and too much work done on his mouth movements, when real life actors or human beings simply don't talk like that. The first shot of him with the shadows and reflection was great and I wish his appearances were mostly regulated to that. Whomever did his voice impersonation was dead on though.
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11:08AM on 12/16/2016

Go see it now!!!

This was a Star Wars dream come true, I can't stop thinking about it.

I agree with OopsWhatSo? and when I hear people dissing the Tarkin recreation I'm wondering if they saw the same movie. The CGI to bring back Tarkin was absolutely phenomenal and as a fan I couldn't wait to see his next scene. You simply can't have a movie about the Death Star that takes place right before A New Hope without Cushing/Tarkin.

The Vader stuff gave me the chills. Whoever's reading this, stop what you're
This was a Star Wars dream come true, I can't stop thinking about it.

I agree with OopsWhatSo? and when I hear people dissing the Tarkin recreation I'm wondering if they saw the same movie. The CGI to bring back Tarkin was absolutely phenomenal and as a fan I couldn't wait to see his next scene. You simply can't have a movie about the Death Star that takes place right before A New Hope without Cushing/Tarkin.

The Vader stuff gave me the chills. Whoever's reading this, stop what you're doing and go see it.
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10:29AM on 12/16/2016
People need to get over the CGI faces already. They really aren't that bad. In fact, I couldn't tell right away how they managed to recreate Tarkin. Calling it Polar Express is insulting.
People need to get over the CGI faces already. They really aren't that bad. In fact, I couldn't tell right away how they managed to recreate Tarkin. Calling it Polar Express is insulting.
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