“We call it the Death Star”
The latest instalment in the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, is due out at the end of this week. So it’s time I took a look back at the last Star Wars film…Rogue One: A Star Wars story! I watched it at the cinema, but didn’t write a review because I found the experience mediocre. A rewatch later and I still have the same feeling as I did before about it. It’s intermittently diverting enough to absorb you into its story. However, I couldn’t shake the bad feeling that I’d seen all of this before. I knew where the film was going and how it was going to end…and nothing distracted me from that. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story felt like a remix of the Star Wars films we’d seen before.
Do I even need to run over the plot for you? We follow a female lead, Jyn Erso, and her roundabout quest to steal plans for the Death Star. Yes, that’s how the Rebel Alliance ended up with them in A New Hope: a group of rebels stole them. But we already knew that, didn’t we? What this film offers is an overly long and a poorly structured story about how the Rebel Alliance captured those plans, and a brief history of what happened between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy. Jyn’s father was responsible for creating the Death Star but also for creating the Death Star’s weakness. That’s about the only thing this film offers that is worth knowing.
For the first act of the film we never stand still or get to know the characters. We race through time periods, planets and characters in a chaotic rush to get the plot where it needs to be. I think this is where I lost a little patience with Rogue One. There was no time to leave us with character interactions, instead the plot reigned supreme. And when we did get a little glimpse of the character’s inner feelings, most were unlikable. I never felt any affinity for Jyn, or an urge to root for her. She’s a non-entity. Her possible romantic partner is a knock-off Han Solo type. I suppose the guy who says “I am one with the Force and the force is one with me” was alright, but he’s ingrained in my mind because of that one saying. It says a lot when my favourite character was the droid, K-2S0. But even it felt like a watered down version of HK-47 from Knights of the Old Republic.
“There were a lot of explosions for two people blending in”
Not only were the bland characters a problem, but there were too many in a one-off film! Not only did we have a horde of new characters to see, but a horde of classic characters from the original trilogy as well. For my money, you only needed a few of classic characters. Instead, Darth Vader was given a line like “don’t choke on your aspirations” as he force-choked a guy, R2-D2 and C-3PO randomly turn up for one shot, and Grand Moff Tarkin is brought back to life with horrendous CGI. And while Vader’s manic flurry at the end of the film may look cool, it makes him look weaker for the original trilogy. Why didn’t he break out those flashy moves whilst fighting Obi-Wan? Or his own son?
My other major problem with Rogue One was the finale, which felt like most other finale from the Star Wars i.e. a multi-faceted plan to bring down a large space station of sorts. There’s a ground battle, a space battle and a more personal battle involving the central character. It may have looked great, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. That’s actually part of my main gripe with Rogue One: it presents itself like something new, dark and gritty. But it’s all a lie portrayed on screen. The forced cameos and nods to A New Hope make sure we know we’re watching a Star Wars film. It’s yet another Star Wars film about taking down the Death Start. And (SPOILER ALERT) the new characters all die, but I found it hard to care about their deaths due to their blandness.
“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope”
Why couldn’t the first Star Wars spin-off be placed outside the original/prequel trilogy? Why did it have to be about something we know so well? That’s not going to change anytime soon. We have a Han Solo film next year, and a Obi-Wan film on the slate as well. Okay, there is another trilogy planned that will not be part of the central Skywalker saga…but why not experiment more? Why not embrace the massive galaxy of Star Wars and tell us stories only minutely connected with what we know?
Rogue One is simply alright. It looks great, so you can ignore the film’s flaws and concentrate on the beautiful visuals. But it should look great, shouldn’t it? It had a massive budget! But it clings too closely to the Star Wars film formula. Nothing will surprise you here. That’s partly because it’s a prequel, but partly because it rehashes what we’ve seen plenty of times before. It tries to come across dark and gritty and it’s slightly successful. But it’s more a result of telling than showing. These Star Wars spin-off stories will need to be much more adventurous in future. As for it’s status as a Star Wars prequel…I’d say it is on the same leve as Revenge of the Sith.
VERDICT: 4/10. Rogue One is nothing you haven’t seen before. Not only do you know how it ends, but you know exactly how the plot will occur minutes into the film itself. Rogue One pretends to be edgy and dark, but in reality it’s the same old story.
What did you think of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)? Leave your thoughts/comments below!
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