It is understood by you that by reading this article that you have either seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or that you don’t care about spoiling the movie for yourself. Cool? Cool.
Bit of history. I was a hopeless Star Wars nerd as a kid and into my late teens. I even held my Star Wars flag during the brief “wilderness years” when there was no new product to consume. When the Timothy Zahn novels and the Dark Horse Comics series started hitting the stands, I was all-in, fully nerded out. My interest waned here and there, as the amount of “expanded universe” material came to be too much for me to consume and I dropped off the train. When Episode 1 was announced I was super hyped – just like the rest of the nerdy people. I didn’t even hate Episode 1.
I didn’t even hate the next two prequels. I didn’t really care about them, either. My nerdly devotion had simply become luke-warmness (pun intended). It was easy to jump on the “George Lucas has raped my childhood” train, as that was where most nerds had landed. I had kids by this time, however, and they loved the prequels. I was able to appreciate them through the eyes of my children. They weren’t “my” movies, and that was OK. I didn’t really care for them, but I couldn’t just blindly hate them either. They just were.
The Force Awakens came out and I really liked it. I wrote a whole stupid article about it. Disney announced that they were going ahead with a new breed of Star Wars movies. Ones that existed in the Star Wars universe, but that didn’t follow the main storyline. Rogue One was to be the first of these movies.
This has understandably led to some confusion.
We’ve made it. The movie is out in theaters and once again, I wasn’t actually that hyped up about it. It suddenly was here and I figured I should see it, but that was actually due more to people saying it was good than any real devotion to the franchise.
Disney once again shows that they know what to do with this property.
As the movie unfolded across the screen. I found myself just… happy. Smiling to myself. It just felt… right. It was like they found some boarded-up office at FOX and there was a tin containing a Star Wars film that had somehow been completely finished back in the 80’s and has mysteriously been lost all this time.
The attention to detail was astounding. It wasn’t just that they made another Star Wars movie, it was that they paid attention down to the fabric of the clothes. I just kept thinking that this was what we were expecting when Episode 1 came out.
It felt like the Star Wars universe. It wasn’t too shiny and crammed with obvious CGI (well… with a couple exceptions). It wasn’t too jokey and playing to the lowest common denominator. (Sorry to you folks that like alien animal fart jokes.) It felt like a natural extension of the existing universe. There was a Wilhelm scream.
Sure, there were things that weren’t perfect. I loved that they brought Vader, Tarkin and Leia into this… but things were still off. The CGI faces are still in the “uncanny valley” territory. We know they aren’t real and so it creeps us out. Also, Vader somehow didn’t quite fill out his suit. It didn’t feel totally accurate. These are small quibbles, however. Let’s get to what went oh so right.
I loved this story. It wasn’t a tale that really needed to be told. They made it interesting and relevant anyway. I loved that they made what was mocked as a plot hole for years (why would the Empire make such a drastic flaw to the Death Star design) into an actual purposeful plot device. Simply wonderful. They also weren’t afraid to take the story to its logical ending. They literally brought us up to the opening of Episode 4. They also weren’t afraid to kill off all the main characters. As we never hear from them again, I had just assumed – correctly – they were all going to bite it by the end.
Speaking of which…
I enjoyed all these guys. They existed in a complicated grey area that made it hard to predict what was going to happen next. I particularly enjoyed the duo of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus. I would watch an entire movie of just those guys.
The standout for me was K2-SO, as a robot nerd. He was a great mix of Marvin the paranoid android from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Baymax from Big Hero Six and just a tiny touch of C3PO.
Jyn and Cassian were a great couple that propelled the plot forward, and I enjoyed seeing a more “boot-lickey” villain in Krennic.
I have to mention Mads Mikkelson as Galen Erso, the man behind the Death Star itself. Mr. Mikkelson impresses me in everything I see him in. He once again did not disappoint.
I think they handled the demise of all these guys deftly. While a definite bummer, they managed to make it still hopeful. They managed to emphasize the positive sacrifice these guys were making over the sadness of death.
Darth Vader’s appearance was actually very wonderful. Despite the minor issue I had with his costume, I think they handled his brief appearances very well. They moved him away from “whiny Annie” territory and back into “Dark Menace” land. Having Vader mow down oodles of rebel troops with his lightsaber was so bad-ass. Showing him in the Bacta tank on Mustafar was another nice touch that worked to bring a hint of mystery back to the character.
The space battles.
Another jarring confession – I was never really a fan of the space battles in the Star Wars saga. I enjoyed them well enough but was always just wanting to get back to the human element and conflict. However, I found them great in this movie. They harkened back to the previous films while bringing a new twist. I found myself completely engaged. I enjoyed the new take on the planet shield concept.
Here I am, amazed once again by what Disney has accomplished. It sure seems like they are winning back my loyalty and attention, a feat I thought long impossible.
Nice work, fellas.