Joel’s review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

How long have we waited for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to come out? A long time. I know a few people didn’t understand why one would want to watch a film based in the Star Wars universe that isn’t about Skywalkers, Jedi, lightsabers, or a prequel. Hey, I understand. People like swords and space wizards. Got burned by the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III), or want to know what happens to Rey.

I get it.

As a long time Star Wars fan in all of its incarnations — movies, shows, comics, toys, videogames, etc, I know the Star Wars galaxy is full of history. Yes, stories abound about Jedi and Sith, but there are also stories about Mandalorian honor, the Infinite Empire, the Old Republic era, the Old Sith Empire, Darth Revan, the Great Hyperspace War, etc. There are all sorts of stories, new and old, to tell. They’re all really interesting, and we should also enjoy stories about regular people living their lives against adversity in that same galaxy. Do I love the Skywalker saga? Sure. I also love many of the other stories out there too. This is one of them. It should be watched, and I hope, enjoyed.

Having said all that, this is a pretty good Star Wars film. I’m not quite sure where it ranks on my list of films, but it’s certainly better than Episodes I-III. As you may know, in year 0 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), a group of Rebel spies stole the plans for the Galactic Empire’s Death Star. Due to their brave acts, the Rebellion was able to identify and exploit a little known vulnerability. Who were these spies? How did they do it? Where did this vulnerability arise from? This the story about that brave act.

Felicity Jones plays the character of Jyn Erso, one of the leaders of this band of spies. Diego Luna plays Cassian Andor, the other leader of the band, and a member of Rebel Intelligence. They’re tasked with finding Jyn’s father, who may have information about a deadly new Imperial weapon — yes, the Death Star. Along their merry way, they are joined by other characters and one droid on their mission to find Jyn’s father, and to ultimately steal the plans. They’re up against Director Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn), lots of Imperial troops, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Darth Vader himself.

Is the film perfect? No. Watching the film, you can slightly tell that the story changed along the way, due to script doctoring and additional reshoots. I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by confirming there are a number of scenes in the various 101 trailers out there that did not make it into the final version of the film. I don’t mean only minor stuff — I’m talking major scenes. I didn’t find the Jyn Erso character all that particularly strong. The film also got a little slow for me in the middle, so pacing was a little off at times. Forest Whitaker’s character Saw Gerrera (first seen in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show) doesn’t have a lot to do either. The characters overall are interesting, the action is pretty good, and the space battles are very good. I also enjoyed the ending immensely, since it’s different. Easter eggs to Episode IV and the Star Wars Rebels TV show are spread throughout. Did I mention the space battles?

I haven’t purchased Episode VII The Force Awakens yet, because I don’t need to watch that film repeatedly. Twice was enough so far. I’ll definitely purchase this film on blu-ray when it’s released. The action is that good.

Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One (2016)

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