This Saturday is May 4th and I will be celebrating Star Wars Day by watching the original trilogy of Star Wars. I was nearly working, so I had to beg, lie, and grovel to get the day off. When that didn’t work, there was always blackmail of my manager.

In preparation for Star Wars Day, I re-watched Rogue One again, which is Star Wars 3.9. It was released back in 2016, just after The Force Awakens, but before The Last Jedi. A sweet spot for Star Wars fans, when there was still a little hope and everything hadn’t been lost.

Rogue One is a decent Star Wars movie.

Cast and Story

There’s no point going over this, as you know the details, Felicity Jones, Diago Luna, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelson, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, and Forest Whitaker all star. Gareth Edwards directs with Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, and John Knoll writing.

Director Krennic (Mendelson) turns up on a distant planet to find Galen Erso living a peaceful life. Erso has given up on the ways of the Empire, but Krennic needs him back to finish the Death Star. Young Jyn Erso (Jones) sees her mother killed and her father taken back to the Empire.

Years later, she is rescued from an Imperial Prison Camp by Rebels. The rebels need her to get an “in” with Saw Gerrera, who may have secret plans to destroy the Death Star. As I say, you know the story, if you don’t, I’m going to recommend that you give Rogue One a watch.

The story is good, the Rebellion is on its last legs, almost ready to give up, but they are given a new hope (see what I did there?). There is a weakness in the Death Star that could save millions of people around the galaxy. Stealing the plans won’t be easy, but then, that’s the point of most movies.

We find new characters, like Chirrut Îmwe (Yen), a blind man who believes in the Force. Is he a Jedi, we don’t know, but does he kick ass? Yes, yes he does.

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The Good

I’m not going to break down the movie that much, there are a million videos on YouTube that have done that. Rogue One does feel like a Star Wars movie though. There’s an epic, although a little silly, space battle at the end, there’s a little bit of laser sword action and hints of John Williams’s original score.

The sets, the green screen, and the designs are all Star Wars. Even though it’s set on new planets, they are planets from the Star Wars Extended Universe. There are weapons, ships, and robots that are new, yet familiar, and it all works.

Even the characters are good. Yes, there is a strong female protagonist, but she’s not the standard Hollywood type. She’s weak and vulnerable and learns to deal with her situation with grit and determination. When we first meet her, she takes a couple of prison guards by sheer surprise, but then gets her ass kicked by K2-S0.

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Andor (Luna) is an asshole. We first meet him trying to get plans about the death star, only to see him kill his own informant to save his ass. I know he must get the information back to the Rebellion, but it’s still pretty low.

They treat all the characters with respect, even Tarkin and Leia. Both are CG’ed into the movie and it’s not perfect, but it’s well done. You can tell there is love of Peter Cushing with Tarkin and he’s not just shoehorned in there for the hell of it.

Rogue One feels like it had less of the influence of Kathleen Kennedy. It is known that Edward’s movie had some extensive reshoots and Tony Gilroy helped with these, and in the final edit. Versions of just how much was changed vary depending on who is telling the story.

It makes me wonder if they just left Edwards and Gilroy alone once they started to make the changes. Lucasfilm thought they had a stinker and it didn’t need their micromanagement and interference. Then it proved to be one of the better Star Wars movies from Disney.

However you look at it, the end scene with Vader, is badass! I know in A New Hope he makes a cool entrance, but in Rogue One, it’s on another level.

 

The Bad

The movie isn’t perfect, the devil is in the detail. In the Star Wars: Jedi Knight video game series Kyle Katarn was the one who stole the Death Star plans. There is no mention of Galen Erso or anything like that.

Also, to me, the movie felt a little disjointed in places. This is possibly a result of the reshoots or editing chnages. The first act was all about finding Saw Gerrera, everyone seems to say his name every 20 seconds, then they find him and he gets killed off quickly. There is then a huge tonal jump between this and the rest of the movie.

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The end space battle starts epic, but then the Hammer Head Corvette rams into one of the Star Destroyers. Sorry, but did they build a spaceship just for ramming purposes? It’s space. Why would you need this?

A minor nitpick, but in the final shot of Vader, as he stands watching Leia get away with the and plans his cloak is blowing around. Where is the wind coming from in space? Is this supposed to be de-pressurising of the bay?

Overall

Rogue One feels like a Star Wars movie made with some love of the original trilogy. It also feels like it might have been made with less top-down oversight from the eventual destroyers of Star Wars. There is a feeling of respect for the franchise, the characters and for George Lucas’ original IP.

This is the last decent Star Wars movie made. From 2016, it was all downhill from there. If you haven’t seen Rogue One, because you are a genuine fan, I can recommend it. I still consider myself a die-hard fan, and I do like this movie. I’m glad I watched it before seeing the Original Trilogy again this May the Fourth.

May the Fourth be with you, always.

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