There will be NO SPOILERS to be found here. There will be no spoilers here. All you'll find here is an honest opinion and a review. That is all.
I have to confess I was hesitant as heck over Rogue One. #1 It being the second non-episodic endeavor of Star Wars (the first being Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie in 2008). #2 It's Gareth Edwards. He's only had Godzilla (2014) and while I hugely enjoyed it and still do. Some didn't. I can see why they didn't and a part of me worried a bit would those flaws show up here. #3 It's been one year since Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Will that shine that movie caused wear down this one? #4 What would they do with no Jedi in sight? How hard and dark would they make it? To put it bluntly anyone who think Revenge of the Sith or The Empire Strikes Back are dark chapters in the franchise.
Yeah... this movie makes them look like a cake-walk. This is Star Wars at basically it's bleakest. The Empire is at their height. There are nigh a Jedi to be found. Everything that the Emperor and Grand Moff Tarkin has been building toward is all coming into place. This is the ultimate manifestation of the Empire. The Death Star symbolizes their greatest achievement and the power to enforce their will onto others. Sure they have Darth Vader, but he's a controlled force that can wipe things out. The Death Star can destroy everything and send a message that you better not try any rebellious hijinks or else...
Enter the Rebellion. Fledgling yes. Disorientated yes. At this point they're basically as what we've seen in Star Wars: Rebels. Numerous cells all (for the most part) trying to topple Imperial rule. They do what it they seem necessary out of survival, because there is no real hope yet for them. No symbol like Luke Skywalker and his scrappy band yet. There's no light to be found when darkness covers the galaxy.
It's here that the movie excels at. Seeing these Rebels trying to find themselves and become the Rebels that we know of. The ones that could one day topple an Empire. Those symbols are the various protagonists that populate Rogue One. When you see that spark be ignited and you see the Rebels kicking tail you can't help but be excited.
In that regard, Rogue One flourishes and by doing so makes me utterly forget about the movie we just had last year. It also helps that I watched Rebels and Revenge right before this. So if you've seen both those movies going in. You're in the correct mindset here. By doing so it made my worries for #3 and 4 go away.
BUT... director Gareth Edwards rears that nasty habit again. Thankfully, it was only at the beginning of the movie. The movie was going at a rapidfire pace that I was like, "Um.. wait what? What? WHAT? SLOW DOWN MOVIE!!" Then the movie did and when it does. Damn does it work.
That's when Rogue One works it's best and after that is when it becomes a damn fine film. The performances are amazing. Everyone in the cast churns out an amazing performance from the top down. You're gonna have a character you'll be rooting for. For me it was Donnie Yen's character. Cause after the disappointing times American movies where his character is always fucked over midway through. To finally see a movie a freaking Hollywood movie were Yen gets to do what Donnie Yen does best. It was a damn treat and sight to behold finally. I can see other's going to any other character and the actor who played them in this. Felicity Jones. Alan Tudyk. Diego Luna. Jiang Wen. Riz Ahmed (who gives the second best live action performance of the film Damn was he great and he also made me root for him dearly). Mads Mikkelsen. They're all fantastic.
Still, there needed to be a singular threat. One that you had to wonder about, yet also be just as impactful given well we know the events of the original Star Wars. Enter Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Of all the characters basically he's the one that has to get the plotting moving and make us care HATE him to root for these Rebels. To that Mendelsohn gives that typical Imperial Officer performance with an added maliciousness. This is a dude who'll do anything to right up there next to the Emperor. So seeing him with our heroes and fellow Imperials made this movie click even more.
If that's not enough those who seen Edwards' Godzilla knows the man loves fan service and how to build it up then deliver it. He does it again here. THAT one moment in particular left me well basically this (and I bet it left others too the same way):
It's that damn a good moment. It left me exactly like that. Just in utter euphoria and probably my favorite cinematic moment of the year. Another, a bit before this felt a bit excessive, but understandable as to why it was there. A few others left me the same, but they made me smile. They were moments that were a necessity.
Just that one moment. It got to me. Damn you Edwards! Still.. there's a moment in this movie. That's exactly like two moments in Godzilla. It's built up to PERFECTION and is just utter fanservice crack. Basically, Edwards giving us what we want and knowing how to deliver it in spades.
Damn does he deliver it. I think I'll need to shop for a cigarette or ask for Edwards for his phone number again the way he leaves you just utterly breathless after these cinematic moments of his doing.
Rogue One while having a hiccup, does deliver the goods. It hits all those targets that makes you love about Star Wars, but tries to do something a bit different with them. The performances are amazing and the fact that each actor got their little moment to shine was great. To me this movie reminded me of the Dirty Dozen (1967) or the Wild Bunch (1969), but it's Star Wars.
Some might be turned off by that. I didn't. If anything, It's just that damn beginning is so droll that I kind of lost who these bloody characters' names were and what the hell was going on save for Krennic given, well Imperials kept screaming his name, and Jyn/Galen Eso given well it's the dude who made the Death Star work. By that alone I was able to remember Jyn's name.
This movie really does open up the possibilities one can spin-off wise of one and done movies. The way the tone can be. From light and optimistic. To just pitch darkness with the light desperately trying to get in there.
Still... I want my goddamn Darth Vader solo movie Disney!!! That or give us the Boba Fett movie we've always envisioned. Because good Disney. Good. Obviously you've got the franchise in the right hands whomever they maybe. So do it. Do it now.
4.5 out of 5*
*it would get a 3 with that rocky start, but DAT MOMENT gives it a full point and a half. Plus one other moment in this. But damn that moment. I NEED A CIGARETTE DAMMIT! Oh my...