[This Review Contains Spoilers]
Originally Posted April 30th, 2017
This movie was my most anticipated movie of 2016. I was insanely excited to see where they’d go with the story and with the characters who, based on the trailers, looked like unique and deep additions to the Star Wars universe. Unfortunately, I feel as though they only got it partially right.
As far as positives go, I loved what this movie did for the universe. We got multiple great new locations that all felt tangible, dirty and real: Scarif, Jedha, Eadu, and Ring of Kafrene were my favorites. The creatures, costume design, and set design were all top notch just like they were in the Force Awakens. The acting was also great across the board; I don’t think there was a single performance that wasn’t as good as the rest. The action is also the best in the entire franchise by far. I enjoyed every action sequence in the movie, especially the stuff on Scarif. I thought that there were two great characters in the movie: K2SO and Director Krennic. Krennic is one of the best Star Wars bad guys that we have gotten to date; his ambitions feel so grounded and he is a very different kind of character than we’ve seen in the past. I loved K2 because of his sarcastic personality; he is one of my favorite Star Wars droids to date. Also, this movie enhances a New Hope in so many ways. We get so much rich history on the Death Star and the intentional flaw added so much to its overall story.
The biggest problem with this movie, however, is the characters. They, for the most part, were bland, boring, and distant. Jyn Erso’s backstory is fairly confusing and is not conveyed in a way that would make the audience connect with her. She also basically has no personality; she goes from a semi-jaded Han Solo-type character to a hopeful and idealistic general in the end without any real charisma. She doesn’t feel like a real person. Cassian was intriguing at the beginning, but they really didn’t give him much of an arc and he was very one-dimensional. Bodhi is the one character that was truly given nothing. He is just there as a plot device. Chirrut and Baze were fine but were really there for humor and action and nothing else (although their friendship felt very real and tangible). The first act is also incredibly choppy and jumps between locations way too quickly. The plot really doesn’t get going until the beginning of the third act because of how much they had stuffed into the first two. The movie just feels too overcrowded with ideas and it could have benefited from being more simple. Also, Tarkin looks fake to the point where I feel as though he should have had a smaller role. The movie, in general, also has way too much fan service. Having a cool Darth Vader scene does not make a great movie; having great characters, on the other hand, does. I like that scene, by the way. But it felt like scenes like that were to make up for the fact that the characters weren’t good enough to engage the audience. Also, some of the references to previous movies were too on-the-nose and derailed the movie each time they happened.
Overall, Rogue One was a massive disappointment, especially after the excellently written and lively Force Awakens. Rogue One’s positives outweighed the negatives, but just barely. If the characters were great, it would have been able to easily overlook some of the flaws I have listed (such as the choppy story), but the characters are what make Star Wars the franchise that it is and, unfortunately, this movie dropped the ball in that area.