Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Film Review No. 18 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12+)

Strong Points:
Good expansion of the Star Wars universe
Fills up plot holes from the first movie
A nice, varied cast
Great easter eggs from the first film
Amazing visual effects
Grand Moff Tarkin
Darker atmosphere shows another side of Star Wars
Some unpredictability
Awesome action scenes

Weak Points:
Changes to certain characters costumes
The opening scene, while a nod to the original film, lacked the visual finesse
First half had so many cuts to other planets and characters it can be confusing
No scroll-up Star Wars credits!

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
Rogue One is interesting in that it is placed in the middle of two separate trilogies and so you will often nod approvingly at both the references to past events and the setting up of future ones. This attentiveness to detail helps to elevate Rogue One from the failings of being halfway through 2 trilogies - you know what's going to happen.

Not that it's a bad thing, or that it is apparent for the entire film, this is very much a character-driven film after all. And the characters are an interesting bunch, with particular highlights including K-2SO a smart-talking droid who grew on me over the course of the film and Chirrut Îmwe, a blind Guardian of the Whillis, who strongly believes in the Force. All the characters are strong in their own way, although some more development in terms of the relationship between them all would've been nice. I get, that it's just a case of 'they've all ended up together to do a job' and that works with most of the characters but for ones like Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus it would've been good to have seen more backstory. The actual story is pretty good in all honesty, with twists you wouldn't expect, emotion and an ending which stayed true to A New Hope.

The action in the film is really impressive, especially in the final battle with Tie-Fighters and X-Wings dog fighting over the rebels last stand on Scariff. What was nice as well was the difference in pace during the battle. It started off with the Rebels actually being able to ambush the Empire, with clever sneaky tactics being employed. Then everything blows up. Also, Star Destroyer dominoes. Need I say more?

While the movie does have a downer ending, it's not all one-note despair, with humour in abundance as well (mostly from K-2SO). Hope is the main theme of Star Wars and this film especially plays with it well, asking questions such as is hope enough. But the film doesn't 'Disneyfy' the message either (which is odd if you think of the owner), leaving a complex film with morally ambiguous characters.

The visual effects were phenomenal and I'm starting to think that Disney are actually time travellers and have brought real spaceships back from the future to produce their films. Not only that, but they've also dabbled in creating humans from CGI now, with Grand Moff Tarkin and Leia. I personally thought they were great additions, even if they seemed slightly 'off''. It will be interesting where they can go from there in terms of CG, although it's supposedly a bit too expensive to be practical to be in any film besides a Disney flick.

Grand Moff Tarkin wasn't the only homage to the original film either, with even the two aliens from the Cantina who Luke gets in a fight with making an appearance. Darth Vader, destroying everything in his sight (finally showing his power) is also something that happens although I wasn't too sure about his appearance. Something changed... I mean everything is going as planned Lord Vader. Now please, put him down.

Conclusion: a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise and one which will hopefully give Disney the confidence to explore more of the galaxy far, far away.

Rating: 87%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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