Alright. I’m going to have to eat my words here, i stated in my Heads up for 2016 on my blog that i was only going to check out the proper episodes and that’s it.
So what happened between now and then? Or even since i put up my Done with Star Wars post in 2014? Well it certainly isn’t because the quality of the films is so high that it swayed my opinion of them; The Force Awakens and Rogue One aren’t fantastic films. I can say for certain that the trailers for Rogue One undeniably piqued my interest:
And i was certainly curious for more scenes of Darth Vader. Also the level of my vitriol has certainly subsided; while the fandom around these movies remains as infuriating as ever, i have found ways to ignore it completely and focus on the movies. I’m not counting the days until Episode VIII and i’m certainly not looking forward to Han Solo’s prequel either, so we’ll have to see if i bother to see it.
So when my cousin again offered to take me with him to watch it (Rogue One) i didn’t say no (and again i would not say no to him if he wants to watch it with me because i have a soul), and here we are.
In this Prequel that everyone conveniently forgets is a prequel despite many fans saying that prequels do nothing to expand the Star Wars story, as we already know how it ends. We see the how the Death Star plans were stolen by the Rebellion.
Explosions ensue of course.
The best part of Rogue One has to be that instead of another done to death (in this series mind you) “Hero’s Journey” with a tragic end, we instead get treated to a tightly paced action thriller. There’s no major character building, and therefore the movie functions a lot like Speed, where the pacing is concerned in moving from one large scale action scene to the next.
It works, in fact it works quite well. With the action scenes recalling various sequences from video games like Empire at War but with the added benefit of being choreographed to look their absolute best. As a result Rogue One easily has the most magnificent action sequences of the series, and earns a good place in the franchise on spectacle alone.
As for the performers, Donnie Yen is memorable as a blind Force Sensitive, and it’s always great to see him jump into action here.
And lastly Darth Vader is given a suitably glorious and terrifying sequence within the tight confines of a ship’s corridors, and is certainly a highlight in a movie that is almost overloaded with them.
The fast pace of Rogue One is not without its casualties, and as i mentioned before any sort of substantial character development or thematic weight is swept to the side lines by explosions. All of the characters in the film are blank slates, as they only fill out vague tropes and/or character types and don’t ever come to life in a meaningful way. It doesn’t help that Felicity Jones gives most of her line readings with a sort of breathless delivery that has her on the verge of tears for the majority of the film, Forest Whitaker also gives a wheezing performance that i would not place very high on a list of his best performances.
While i praised Vader’s action scene his involvement within the plot is very minimal and ineffectual. As he is given a throw away scene of dialog that doesn’t justify getting James Earl Jones to return to do the voice, coupled with the very real possibility that he might not live to do another Vader role, he should have either been given more to do (Vader is featured in the trailers in scenes that don’t happen) or left only to his one shoot out sequence. Bottom line is, James Earl Jones, his iconic voice, and Vader himself are all worth more than the paltry role given to them here.
Lastly, while the music supplied by Michael Giacchino is decent, nothing other than his use of older Star Wars themes managed to stick out. Which is a bit disappointing as his wonderful music to the Star Trek reboots is one of the highlights of them. Also his involvement here has me speculating that in the event that John Williams passes away (hopefully it doesn’t happen, though given his age it’s something fans must prepare themselves for) before completing his music for the new episodes, the reins may be handed over to Giacchino’s capable hands.
Which is honestly the best thing that could happen, as the thought of Zimmer taking on the music to the series gives me a headache already.
I think it’s safe to say that Rogue One won’t take up the mantle of being the best Star Wars film in the franchise, as thread bare themes and characters put a damper on it being memorable for anything other than its spectacular explosions.
But what explosions they are to behold, and if you (like me) want to see Vader in a suitably great action sequence then i say what we have here in Rogue One is worth the price of admission.
OUT OF FIVE