Ahhh, Rogue One, a Star Wars story. Good times. Reader, did you know this movie came out on my birthday? Hahaha, yes, happy birthday to me! It was quite a memorable one. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. The first half might have been a little sloppy, but boy did they pull it all together in the end. Riveting stuff. There was a lot I liked about the movie, and some aspects I thought could have been better. Here are a few things that crossed my mind after seeing it.
What I loved
The fact that everyone died
Morbid, yes, I know, but it needed to happen. This was a high risk mission and since we have already seen the sequel, we know it was a costly one. These characters needed to get got, otherwise the stakes of the entire movie loses its potency. If everyone lives and its happily ever after, then what’s the point? People die in times of war and I am actually amazed that a big-budget franchise movie would kill off every main character. That takes guts, but it paid off. And let’s applaud the script and cast for a moment, because all those deaths at the end were noble and meaningful and in such a short time we all cared about the outcome. That’s no easy feat.
Effing Darth Vader is a certified badass
His epic takedown of regular, non-force wielding humans truly showed his power. We never really got that before, as he would always be fighting another Jedi with a saber, so they could hang. As for the regular folk, well, you can see how terrifying it was to witness that massacre. Vader is mythical in the Star Wars universe, as there are many skeptics of the force, but seeing him in action shed light on how indestructible he is.
The gritty boots-on-the-ground war sequences
You know, for a Star Wars movie, shit got real. I loved how they took a story about space and grounded it on, well, the ground. It was stuff we have never seen from a Star Wars movie before and it was fantastic. And well, there was also plenty of X-Wings, TIE fighters, and Star Destroyers to go around.
The scope of the ships
For as great as the special effects were in the original trilogy, we never saw the true scope of the size of a Star Destroyer or the Death Star. Gareth Edwards did a superb job in letting us know just how massive this ships are. The shot of the Destroyer over Jedha is great, as ships shuttle the kyber back up to the Destroyer. And there are multiple shots of Destroyers next to the Death Star, which put the “huge” Star Destroyers to shame. But the shot that takes the cake is when the Death Star emerges on the horizon on Scarif. Boy, oh, boy, did that make me giddy!
The streamlining of Cassian’s character and his relationship to death
When we first see Cassian Andor, he is killing a dude in a dark alley because he has a broken arm and is a viable snitching option if he gets in the hands of the Empire, which would in turn put the Republic at risk. So he conveys his options and does the only thing he can do: kill him. Afterwords, his face tells the story of a man who has done that one too many times. Kill someone in the name of the Republic. Get his hands dirty, but for the greater good. As the film builds, Cassian shies away from killing. He does not kill Galen, because he knows it would hurt Jyn and sometimes orders need to be broken. All of this builds up to when he gives the speech in the hangar in front of a bunch of similar, ill-repute Republic fighters that have all done things they regret, but that it was all leading up to this point. That it all can ultimately mean something good. Redemption!
What I thought could have been improved
Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the score of the film. I thought Michael Giacchino did a superb job in creating a Star Wars feel without ripping off John Williams. With that said, I thought the score could have been a little darker at times to match what was going on in the movie. Oftentimes I felt as though he tried to lighten the material that on the surface was dark, like how Cassian shot a dude in the back and they played him off as if it was nothing. Or during some of the battle sequences at the end. The film was dark. There were many casualties. And if the music represented the pain and anguish better, we could have gotten something truly remarkable. One of my favorite moments of the film was when Baze Malbus walked out onto the battleground, with smoke blowing in the background as he moved past dead bodies, and the music played right into that dark, ominous feeling as Baze strode to his death. It amplified it. It made it more impactful. If you ask me, this litter tone to the music is Disney trying to make the movie a little more light-hearted for the younger audience.
What I did not love
The fact that General Tarkin was featured so prominently was a nice surprise, though he was a big part of the book that preceded Rogue One, so I was not that surprised. However, I was not a huge fan of the CGI of the General himself. Yes, it looked pretty good, if not too good, but it took me out of the film at times, because I knew he was computer animated. There were some great scenes between him and Krennic and we got to see on the big screen how truly menacing the famed character is, but his impact could have been greater if he was used in smaller doses and shot at more clever angles. More side of the face shots/Tarkin ruminating in the shadows would have been perfect, ya know?
How Rogue One serves as a more apt prequel than those actual prequels
This movie links up with A New Hope perfectly. It shows the true destruction of the Death Star, the power of Darth Vader, the fleeting hope of the Rebel Alliance, and no Hayden Christensen. Pretty much all we need to know as we head into the original trilogy. And that end sequence, where Vader is mowing down normies sets Rogue One up as the perfect table-setter for a bingeful day of Star Wars!