Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll and Gary Whitta
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker and James Earl Jones
Release Date: December 16, 2016
Runtime: 2 hours, 13 minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13 for “extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action”
Plot Summary: “Jyn Erso and the Rebel Alliance plot to steal the plans to the Death Star from the Galactic Empire.”
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016) is set between the end of “Revenge of the Sith” (2005) and the beginning of “A New Hope” (1977). It’s purpose is to set up the beginning of the original trilogy and elaborate on a plot hole that has puzzled many “Star Wars” fans; how did the Rebel Alliance get the plans to the Death Star? What results is a fast-paced and action-packed ride that perfectly fills the gap between Episodes 3 and 4. However, this does not mean that it is an amazing “Star Wars” flick.
“Rogue One” desperately tries to ride the coattails of the success of last year’s “Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens” (2015) and it is (almost religiously) convinced that this is a story has messages in it that everyone needs to hear. I am not a part of the faction of “Star Wars” fans who are interested in how the Rebels got the plans to the Death Star, so before I even saw the movie, I did not care about it’s plot; I am not interested in how the Death Star plans were acquired by the Rebels because it is not something that needs to be explained to the audience or something that should be the subject of a two hour film. Then the movie keeps force-feeding themes and messages to the audience that we have heard countless times before. Yes. We get it. Hope is a major theme in “Star Wars”, rebellion is the main motivation/purpose of many characters and all of the characters that “Star Wars” fans love possess bravery; we do not need to hear these messages over and over again.
“Rogue One” fails to live up to “The Force Awakens” or any of the other four amazing “Star Wars” films (“Attack of the Clones” and “The Phantom Menace” are being excluded. No apologies. No explanations.) because those films possess character arcs that “Rogue One” does not and can not possess; for example, in “Revenge of the Sith”, we clearly notice Anakin Skywalker’s willpower being torn in half by the love he has for his wife and the desire to learn the limits of his powers. In “Return of the Jedi” (1983), Luke Skywalker’s mission to end the reign of the Empire and bring his father back to the Light Side of the Force also provides emotional/personal connection for the audience. In “Rogue One”, the only significant messages I could point out were rebellion and bravery are very powerful; there is no real motivation or purpose behind the actions of the characters which brings me to my main problem with this movie:
The only characters I felt any care over were (of course) Darth Vader and a droid who served as the film’s comic relief. Everyone else seemed like the creative team behind “Rogue One” intentionally built them up to be unlikeable and unrelatable. There was not a single character in this movie whose motivations I could understand or sympathize with. This left me watching bland actors giving off mediocre performances as stale characters.
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, in particular, disappointed me the most; I went into this movie thinking that she was going to be the pre-original trilogy version of Rey or Leia and she proved to be something entirely different; she does not possess any confidence, independence, charisma or drive and she is constantly being pushed around by the other characters. “Jyn, stop!” “Jyn, no!” “Jyn, keep going!” “Jyn, we’ve got to go!” The supporting characters ordering around the protagonist/female character annoyed me so much and kept me from enjoying the movie.
The last problem I have with “Rogue One” is that the Rebels’ mission near the end of the movie is incredibly hard to follow and does not make any sense. The Rebels have to go shoot up this thing so that another thing will shut down, which make another thing up in space vulnerable that will then cause this to shut down, so then they can grab this thing and transmit it to so-and-so. Sound confusing? It is. It ended up confusing me so much that I spent more time trying to piece together their plan in my head than I did enjoying the movie.
I am going to give “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” a “C+”. This is definitely not anywhere near as good as the original trilogy or “The Force Awakens” was, but action/sci-fi fans will still probably enjoy it. My advice to “Star Wars” fans is this; if you did not enjoy “The Force Awakens” and/or are only planning on seeing this because Darth Vader is in it, do not waste your money. Wait for clips of Darth Vader in “Rogue One” to be leaked on YouTube or rent it when it is released on DVD and digital; Vader’s role in this movie is brief and incredibly satisfying, but it is not enough to make this movie great.