ROGUE ONE A Star Wars Story is finally here and I was one of the lucky 50 thousand to see the preview on the Tuesday before its official release. I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan since I was a kid and that really never leaves you so I was eagerly anticipating Rogue Ones release. Coming out of the film surrounded by the crowd that seems for the most part happy with the film my foot was much more in the ‘Good not Great’ camp. It’s a solid Star Wars movie much better than the prequels but for me not as enjoyable as last years ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens’. Having a post pint chat with a friend we starting chatting about the stuff we liked and stuff we didn’t. Interestingly being a father one of his concerns was if his son would enjoy the film, in particular the opening half which is expedition and set up which takes way to long. So heres the list of the things I liked and things I didn’t.
Things I liked. (The Force is strong)
DONNIE YEN as Chirrut Îmwe
Brilliant. A ZATOICHI like character that is the closest thing we get to a Jedi in the film. Being a huge fan of Hong Kong cinema and Yen’s amazing carrer it was great to see him with more to do than in 2002’s Blade 2. He is involved in the standout action scenes. Defeating numerous Stormtroopers with only his Staff, faith in the Force and sharp wit. There is also some welcomed comedic light relief from the character at the right times. Donnie Yen also seems to never age, 54 and still kicking ass.
K-2SO. The heart of the film.
A Galactic Empire security droid reprogrammed to serve the Rebel alliance voiced brilliantly by Alan Tudyk. As with BB-8 in The Force Awakens, A new droid star is born. Funny, Sarcastic and devoid of any irony the character reminded me of Guardians of the galaxy’s Drax. Announcing the odds on survival or shining a light on the the lack of trust between characters made for lots of humours dialogue that greatly helped the po-faced seriousness of the script. I enjoyed the film when K-2SO was onscreen. K-2SO is also the best and for me only completely beleiveable CGI character in the film.
The DARTH VADER cameo
Arguably the greatest and most iconic villain in cinema history and without doubt the best in the SW universe (Sorry Greedo) has little screen time in ROGUE ONE but they are damn memorable. The last scene of VADER making his way through the Rebellion ship chasing down the stolen plans and leaving rebel soldiers in his wake is “action wise” the best he’s appeared onscreen to date. His lightsaber is controlled and lethal. His use of the force economical, ending with a final image that demands to be a poster on kids of all ages bedroom wall. Stunning
The Heist on Scarif
The mission to get the Death Star plans by Jyn Erso and the other members of ROGUE ONE takes up not the whole movie (Unfortunately) but the last 30/40 minutes and is the reason to buy a ticket. At-At’s, X-Wings v Tie fighter Dogfights and a race against time to disable those pesky shields again make ROUGE ONE finally feel like a STAR WARS film. Everything comes to a head and while I may not have loved the journey to it the shear scale of the eye candy films ending is worth it.
Things I disliked (The Dark Side)
Robbing the Grave – CGI TARKIN
The last time I face-plamed at a Star Wars film was REVENGE OF THE SITH when Franken-Vader yelled NOOOOOOoooooo. Thats exactly how I felt watching a CGI Peter Cushing (R.I.P) interact with Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic. TARKIN looked like Peter Cushing, Talked like Peter Cushing but after mere seconds onscreen he resembled a cut scene from a game. I really thought and hoped Star Wars was beyond this because all I could think of was those new scenes from the special editions. The problem is you are trying to create a living person but you can’t CGI life behind the eyes. Works on robots and dinosaurs but the human eye can’t be tricked with a lifeless mimic. Its the equalvant of Real Doll. An almost human looking product invented as a substitute for a living thing but ultimately just a lifeless husk with someones impression of a pretty face. I’m also really concerned this sets a precedent. We have already had Bruce Lee and Audrey Hepburn brought back from the grave to sell us whiskey and chocolate but this is too far. I’m sure the producers got permission form the Cushing estate but this doesn’t mean they should do it. I don’t think many would have complained with re-casting the role. It succeeded in taking me emotionally out of the film. Which leads to my next gripe
The Fountain of Youth? CGI LEIA
See above… At least Carrie Fisher is only onscreen momentarily. I can’t believe they made Princess Leia unattractive. Lazy and unimaginative.
Run Forest Run – Saw Gerrera
Forest Whitaker is an actor I like. Forest Whitaker has won an Oscar. Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera is awful. I’m struggling to see a point in the character and the performance is odd and panto at best. Although if he was in a panto no one would hear him because he whispers everything. His scenes wreak of reshoots or there is a galactic cure for baldness they haven’t told us or Lobot about yet.
Gareth Edwards – Ive got a bad feeling about this
Gareth Edwards previous film was 2014’s GODZILLA and I was incredibly frustrated by the pace and slow meandering storytelling. When all promotions from the film promise so much and don’t deliver until the last act its underwhelming. If you are left hungry for to long you get angry and hangry is never good. ROGUE ONE although not as bad shares similar pacing issues. Its also obvious there was reshoots and the planet jumping at the beginning gets confusing, really missed those screen wipes. Shots we seen in the trailer are also left out of the completed film. If these shots are cut from the final film they should not be in the trailer. It must be an incredible undertaking having a huge blockbuster on your shoulders and we’ll never no how much studio interference went on but for me the changes for whatever reason were evident.
Not John Williams
Michael Giacchino is an established composer in hollywood but like every other composer in the industry he’s no John Williams. That may be unfair as Williams music is as much part of the Star Wars universe as lightsabers, stormtroopers and scruffy looking herfhearders but the big problem with the music is its overbearing and does not seem to fit whats happening onscreen in the early part of the film. This again wreaks of reshoots and a late edit. Are the film makers trying to paper over some cracks or do I just miss John Williams that much?
All in all the film is worth your hard earned space credits. If for nothing else those last 30/40 minutes.