Movie Review: Rogue One (2016)

Posted: January 5, 2017 in Action, Drama
Tags: , , , ,

rogue-one

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones, Beau Gladson, Dolly Gladson) is hiding on the planet Lah’mu with her father Galen (Mads Mikkelson) and mother Lyra. (Valene Kane) The weapons developer for the Empire, Orson Kennick  (Ben Mendelson) arrives on Lah’mu and orders Galen to come with him to build a new weapon called The Death Star.  Galen refuses initially, but agrees to go with Kennick when he threatens to kill Lyra.  Jyn escapes with the help of Saw Gererra  (Forrest Whittaker)

Jyn is eventually captured and held captive on the Ring of Kafrene, from there she is transferred to the planet Wobani, where she is freed by rebel pilot Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his droid K250. (Alan Tudyk) The rebels ask Jyn to find Saw Garerra and extract Galen. Their ultimate goal is to find the plans to the Death Star, and pass them on to other rebels to continue the fight.  Cassian, Jyn and K250 travel to the planet Jedha, where the meet Empire defector and pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and blind rebel Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his bodyguard, Baze Malbus (Wen Jian) Chirrut and Baze help Cassian and Jyn fend off an attack by storm troopers, but while they are fighting, Kennick and Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry) are on the Death Star planning an attack on Jedha City to crush that part of the rebellion.  Do Cassian, Jyn, Chirrett, Bodhi and Baze escape the bombing of Jedha City, do they find the plans to the Death Star and transport them to the other rebels?

Rogue One gets off to a slow start, in its defense, there are a lot of characters, locations, plot and backstory to unfurl in this movie, if some of that was trimmed maybe the pacing would have been faster, but once all the characters come together, and project a united front, the movie takes off. There’s lots to like in this movie, the main characters don’t necessarily like each other or trust each other at first, I thought that was the right tone to set.  Jyn continues the Star Wars tradition of having strong, assertive women in positions of leadership.   Cassian has doubts about Jyn’s commitment to the struggle, and doesn’t mind telling her, is Bodhi a defector or a spy?  The Chinese characters, which first appeared to be a marketing gimmick, were actually well-written and well-developed. There is just enough use of characters from A New Hope to make it an effective plot device.  The only characters that I thought were underwritten were Saw Garrera and Bodhi Rook, the writers could have done much more with them.  But the ending is emotionally satisfying and ties the story together well.  Rogue One is just a few notches below The Force Awakens, and a good addition to the Star Wars cannon.

Felicity Jones plays Jyn as a strong-minded woman with an immense sense of loyalty to her father, is her loyalty to her father or the rebellion?  Jones does a good job of keeping the audience guessing.  Jones was also excellent as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Diego Luna is also excellent as Cassian, providing the perfect foil for Jyn, trying incessantly to prove his bonafides as the O.R. Original Rebel.  Riz Ahmed is not given nearly enough to do in this film, I wish his role was more interesting.  Similarly Forrest Whittaker was given very little character development, and deserved better.  On the other hand, Donnie Yen from the Ipman films is very convincing as Chirrut, giving his character a Buddhist monk type loyalty to the force.  The writers even give Chirrut a chant.

The direction was adequate, not spectacular as it should have been.  The pacing was slow, and plodding.  Gareth Edwards did a good job of making the film look like the 1977 classic, but I wasn’t sure if he had his own vision of the movie or was just aping George Lucas’ vision.  The final battle is well-shot, but the earlier battle scenes seem run-of-the-mill. Godzilla his other major movie as a director is not that noteworthy.

Rogue One:  A force to be reckoned with.

 

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