December 22, 2016
Review #888: Rogue One.
Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), Alistair Petrie (General Draven), Genevieve O'Reilly (Mon Mothma), and Ben Daniels (General Merrick) Directed by Gareth Edwards (#582 - Godzilla)
If you are wondering why I didn't review this film earlier, it's because I didn't feel the need to go to another opening night premiere of a Star Wars film (done one year earlier - #769) without letting some of the talk about the movie come and go. Was I excited? Of course. It's not so much that it's easy to get me excited about certain films, the fact remained that I wanted to install some sort of thought process that would keep a balanced system of bias, where I didn't put too much weight on it being a prequel (good and bad) with characters of a different cloth from the rest.
At any rate, how is the movie? It is easy to say this is the best Star Wars prequel, and it is also easy to say this is the first of the franchise that's really like a war film. I'm not saying it's the first war film of the franchise (look at the title of the franchise after all), but it's the first one to really show its effects on a true scale, with a varying degree of grit. It is a dark movie at times, but it also manages to have its moments of charm one would expect from this franchise. Jones does a fine job at making this character relatable and someone easy to root for, while having a fair amount of chemistry with Luna, who also has his own qualities that work for the film. Mendelsohn is an adequate enough villain, not too smarmy nor too out of the way. Yen and Wen are pretty good together, having a good enough repertoire when it is needed. The rest of the cast is serviceable, with Tudyk being a good source for quips.
The effects are pretty good, in the sense that they do not feel too distracting. There are some excellent shots (such as the Star Destroyer coming out of the dark, just before the Death Star does as well) in a movie that also has a good deal of grit that works with the tone really well. The effects also have an impact when it comes to certain character such as Tarkin. I have to admit, I was curious to see how the effect would look, with Peter Cushing's likeness being inserted over someone else' body, with Stephen Stanton voicing Tarkin. The effect is a bit jarring, but at least it doesn't entirely distract from the movie too much, with there being some use to Tarkin being there. The same could be said for Darth Vader, who plays a significant role that Jones does well. There are other links to the original film, but the movie doesn't smother itself too much in nostalgia. It has a look that works for the intent of the movie, but it doesn't entirely forget to have its own vision as well. I didn't find it as good as The Force Awakens (#769, in part because I felt a bit more for the characters in that one), but I did find to be as consistent as the other film. On the whole, the movie is fairly good at establishing quick atmosphere and characters, with a consistent tone. It's not a great film nor is entirely without flaws, but it is at the very least an enjoyable if not bittersweet movie.
Overall, I give it 8 out of 10 stars.