Review: ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
It’s hard to think of a good movie in the universe that takes place before the original Star Wars trilogy. The prequel trilogy is probably one of the greatest examples of “Don’t make that.” Rogue One is a film that takes place about 10 years before the first Star Wars film, and it does a pretty good job of returning you to the universe in which you remember from those films.
As one of the one-off films that Disney is banking on, Rogue One is a film that really needs to work in the context of the Star Wars universe. Going into the film, I felt the weight of the film on the entire franchise, but seeing the crowds that I walked in with, it was common knowledge that the Star Wars brand needed no help in bringing in the masses. Since I went pretty early to see the film, there were fans in costumes, swinging light sabers. People of all ages went in there expecting nothing but the ultimate Star Wars experience. Did they get it? Yeah, they got it all.
Premise: In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
The big thing about sitting in this movie is wondering why it was even made. I won’t spoil anything, but the entire movie itself is kind of a spoiler. If you watch the opening crawl in the original Star Wars, you get the entire story to this film given to you. You wouldn’t think that information was enough to make a film, but the filmmakers here managed to pull it off. Not only did they make a great Star Wars film, but they managed to make the only prequel that worked. It worked so well that you forget it’s a prequel. When you think of the other films, the fact that you don’t think about any of the prequels is a huge achievement.
The film brings you back to a universe you can recognize from the original films. You get taken back to the gritty place you recognize, but you also get new gadgets and space stuff you haven’t seen before. Again, it’s like the prequels if they weren’t garbage.
The story is so well written to the point that you think it’s an official part of the Star Wars saga and not just a story that is only part of it. For as long as the movie is, you leave the theater wanting more of the story that’s given. It’s a film that proves that the universe has many stories to tell. It proves that an expanded universe is a good thing for the franchise, but it also proves that fan fiction has a place in film. For as much as this movie proves that it’s good, it also feels like a fan fiction story brought to the screen. It’s a mix of good and confusion.
Fan fiction criticism aside, Rogue One is a film that Star Wars fans will love. If a film prequel film makes you want to run home to watch the films that come after it, you know you made something good. The moment I got in my car to go home after seeing the film, I knew that I had to head home and watch the originals. It wasn’t like I wanted to, but I really had to. Once you see this film, you can appreciate it even more once you see A New Hope. It’s when you watch the original that you appreciate how well done they did Rogue One.
Not only did they nail it with this film, but they also nailed bringing the stuff you love into different settings. Stormtroopers and battles in a tropical setting? That shouldn’t work, but it does and looks beautiful. We only saw the AT-AT’s in a snow setting, so seeing them walking and blowing stuff up in a setting like that really gets the crowd going. When you hear a “That’s f*cking awesome!” followed by a “Yeah, shhhh!” You know you’re watching something that will make people happy.
The cast? Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker completely crush in their roles. There has been some nonsensical stuff on Twitter about Felicity Jones is another female character that fronts a Star Wars film, but the people that complain about that are stupid. You forget she’s a woman as you watch the film. There’s also crap on Twitter about the cast being too mixed. This is another non-issue. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’re rooting for the rebels. No one roots for the Stormtroopers because they’re based on the Nazi’s. That’s why the entire controversy in nuts: getting angry over the casting of the rebel side because there’s women or people of color that makes you sound like a dummy.
Should you take a few hours out of your weekend to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Sure. Bring your kids, bring your friends, or go by yourself. It’s a film that will introduce you to the world of Star Wars if you happened to miss everything before it. If you did miss everything, this movie will explain it to you in references. Is it a film that needed to be made? Not really. It’s fan fiction with a huge budget. It’s fan fiction that is now part of the Star Wars universe, so there’s that.
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Jeff Sorensen is an author, writer and occasional comedian living in Detroit, Michigan. You can look for more of his work on The Huffington Post,UPROXX,BGR and by just looking up his name.