Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Michelle is Meh. Spoiler Free Review!

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It’s here, finally here. A new Star Wars movie! Yey? What I feared would happen has come to pass – Star Wars no longer feels special. A new Star Wars film every year for the next 5 years, takes away the mystique and awe the franchise has maintained for the last 30 years. What makes Rogue One: A Star Wars Story slightly different is Director Gareth Edwards and the writing crew said fuck it, we’re our own thing and we’re not going to be slaves to the past, while remaining slavishly to it: yes this sentence makes no sense, but work with me.

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Every Star Wars film since the original trilogy has felt a need to adhere to a predefined formula and work in characters that we know and love to the point of sapping the freshness out of the film, it was the problem with the prequels and while Star Wars: A Force Awakens was a lot of fun and amazing to watch the first time around, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a beat for beat remake of the first film. For all of it’s flaws, Rogue One doesn’t fall into this trap – until the end. There are some minor nods to the other films, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with fan service.

There are some returning characters who make glorified extended cameos: Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) who we last saw taking the Skywalker babies in Episode III and Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), and of course Darth Vader. Can I just say the prequels have forever ruined Vader? It’s hard to imagine him as a bad ass when all I see is whiny Hayden Christensen.

Bringing back the great James Earl Jones to do voice duties again was a nice touch. Vader’s appearance at the end did provide me with a “This is so cool moment,” followed immediately by “WTF just happened?” It’s probably a nitpick that only I would notice and really hate.

I love the fact that it seemed like they took some chances and didn’t adhere to the standard name drops, or show us the same planets we’ve seen a million times before. Michael Giacchino

Soundtrack was radically different than previous Star Wars films and really made the film feel fresh and new, as well as the lack of the classic credit scroll. But not including it makes the movie truly feel like it’s a stand alone.

Story

Rogue One introduces a lot of new toys, um, characters to the franchise. Yeah, characters. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) life is kind of screwed at an early age. Her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is chief arm’s maker for the Empire and tasked with creating the ultimate weapon at first he refuses, but when his family is threatened by Orson Krennic he eventually gives in. After watching her mother get killed and her father taken away she’s taken in by radical rebel leader Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). The film immediately flash-forward a few years where we find a now adult Erso who gets broken out of Prison by the rebels.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is sent by the rebels to break her out of a prison transport. The rebels need Erso to help them get an introduction to Saw who is too radical for even them. Saw has an Empire pilot who is carrying information on how to destroy the Empire’s latest mystery weapon.

Along the way Cassian and Erso pick up a band of merry men including a blind guy named Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) who may or may not have the force, but he certainly believes in it and his friend Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), a wise cracking reprogrammed Imperial robot named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), and the previously mentioned former Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).

Instead of letting us live and find out who these characters are, the story just mindlessly propelled us from one mission to the next and started to feel a little disjointed. At over 2 hours the movie drags and feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace.

The Bad

Edwards is a competent director, I guess, but he doesn’t do anything daring or memorable here, there’s not a single moment or shot in this film that provided me with sense of awe and wonderment. Everything felt like this was a film that they had to do, there’s no passion anywhere on screen – not from the actors, the production values, etc.

I did laugh when the plans to the death star were literally on a giant physical hard drive, straight out of the early 80s. My eyes rolled hard at that one. Really? This movie makes Han, at the end Episode IV when he walks away, seem even more like a douche.

Will Storm Troopers EVER learn how to shoot? Some of the fighting sequences were just ridiculous and hard to take seriously. I mean you had AT-AT Walkers not able to hit anything and storm troopers not hitting people who were literally a couple of feet in front of them.

It’s hard to judge Greig Fraser cinematography. I’m not sure if it was the theater or the movie, but the movie looked washed out, muddy and really dark. The Star Wars world itself is showing its age, I’m kind of tired of it at this point. Every planet, ship, costume, etc looks basically the same and never seems to want to do anything radically different.

Just once I’d like to see a Star Wars film and be wowed by seeing something completely new and fresh. I know that’s impossible to do when a world and franchise is as established as this one is.

Conclusion

Just once I’d like to see a Star Wars film and be wowed by seeing something completely new and fresh. I know that’s impossible to do when a world and franchise is as established as this one is.  I didn’t hate Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it commits the crime of being underwhelming and unoriginal.

Final Grade C