Rogue One Review [Spoiler/Non-Spoiler]

As always with my film reviews, this review of Rogue One will contain clearly marked spoiler and non-spoiler sections.

Rogue One Review

I was originally going to post this straight after viewing the film once, but as I was going to see it a second time after Christmas, I decided to wait for a second viewing.

Non-Spoiler Review

Overall? 4*

Some franchises seek to continue their themes. Some franchises seek to introduce new and original ideas. Some franchises seek to include a greater range of ethnicities through great actors who would have been otherwise relative unknowns. Rogue One achieves all three of these goals, simultaneously: limited by the already existing prequel, original and current sequel trilogies, Rogue One fleshes out the event leading up to IV: A New Hope.

I was fluctuating between a 4* and 5* for the majority of the film: what I felt, and what is reflected in other reviews I have read, is that the last thirty minutes of Rogue One is an emotional rollercoaster. Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars and where it fits in chronologically will be expecting the outcome, but I felt it was particularly effective in how it presented this outcome. That’s all I can say for the non-spoiler section!

Spoiler Review

Major spoiler warning for events occurring within Rogue One, this is all the warning you’re going to get.

The ending was – well, the ending. Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars was expecting the cast to die. It was the only way to ensure the best sense of continuity between Rogue One and A New Hope (IV) – the characters from Rogue One aren’t mentioned in A New Hope, therefore it was assumed by many people they would end up dead, which they did. Although that is a painful and very bittersweet ending, I’m glad the crew behind the scenes had the courage to go ahead with it: many others would have made a cop-out ending. As much as I wish there was room for more films or media in any form about these characters, I’m glad the film was wrapped up in one movie.

I feel like there was a lot changed in the reshoots – there was an alternative ending initially filmed before those in charge behind the scenes realised everyone had to die in order for the ending to be true to what Rogue One represented – producing a lot of deleted material from the trailer. Obviously this happened with the last film too – trailers are made in advance of editing, so I can understand why it happens – but I found this to be interesting watching back the trailer compared to the final film. The tone is the same, but the trailer suggests certain things that don’t actually end up being paid off: for example, the ‘what will you become’ line doesn’t really represent how Jyn’s character changes (since she was in the shot when the line is said)… unless we’re meant to take that line literally as Jyn becoming the stardust that is her father’s nickname.

The CGI thing with Grand Moff Tarkin – I’m not so great on that. I think it would have been more fitting to chose an actor who looked similar (who they already had) and audiences would have forgiven them since, y’know, the actor isn’t alive anymore. Using CGI to mimic the actors face was clever, but ultimately looked fake and in some scenes it was very obvious that it was special effects. The skin texture was too perfect and the lighting was slightly different compared to the real actors in that scene. Again, with the young princess Leia at the end of the film: they could have limited her appearance to a shot from behind with the well-known white robe. Everyone knew who she was and why she was there: her face didn’t need to be included, I don’t feel.

The beginning is a little slow to start, and we jump around to different locations at the very beginning to get introduced to all the characters. While this makes sense in terms of getting a feel of the characters, it can be a little jolting because we’re getting used to one setting and then are transported to another. Despite this, I don’t think characters could have been introduced any better without spending a long time (which the film didn’t have: a lot had to happen, and it did a good job – I felt – at making the audience connect with the cast).

I most respect the way Cassian and Jyn’s relationship was handled. The end was marked with a hug, which left it completely ambiguous as to the extent and complexity of their relationship and despite how heartbreaking that felt, given the short amount of time the film covers, it made sense. It also meant it’s the first Star Wars film to not have a romantic plot or subplot, just another way Rogue One stood out on it’s own.

Overall, I loved Rogue One and I think it falls in joint first place with Doctor Strange as my film of the year.

Have you guys seen Rogue One yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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