I’m still trying to come down off a nerdy high right now, so you’ll forgive me please if things seem a little scattershot. I just got back from seeing Rogue One in IMAX 3D and…well, my brain is having trouble getting past the happy somersaults of my inner nerd.
So what’s the movie about? Well, it’s basically the run-up to Episode IV, A New Hope. A scientist named Galen Erso is basically shanghaied into Imperial service to help complete the weapons system on the infamous Death Star. But his daughter, Jyn, is able to escape the Imperial troops sent to capture her. She grows up alone and something a scoundrel. But when the Rebels learn of some sort of secret project that Galen is working on, they recruit Jyn to try to find out what her father is up to.
So Jyn winds up teaming up with a Rebel soldier named Cassian Andor and a reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid named K-2SO to find her father and learn whatever information he’s trying to share with the Rebel Alliance.
Of course, what he’s trying to share is the plans for the Death Star. And no, that is not a spoiler because that information has basically been plastered all over the ad campaign and it’s in the opening crawl for Episode IV.
So Jyn and Cassian have to cobble together a ragtag team of miscreants and misfits to get their hands on the plans.
Now before I get into my grubby little opinion, let’s get two things out of the way:
First of all, for me, the bar that any Star Wars film has to get over is Episode I. That is the pinnacle of the franchise so long as I’m concerned. It was refreshing to have George Lucas in the director’s chair once again, bringing his unique vision to the screen with such perfect use of CGI effects and…
Pfffffffff…. Sorry. Thought I could keep that up, but no.
This probably goes without saying, the gold standard of Star Wars movies is Empire Strikes Back. That’s the bar that the other movies haven’t quite made it to and any future endeavors will have to clear to become the best of the franchise.
Second, I have to admit that I was a little…well, disgruntled when I first learned that this movie was getting made. It’s silly, but a little part of me was holding out hope that my second favorite Jedi, Kyle Katarn, could somehow still remain the guy who stole the Death Star plans in spite of Disney doing a hard reset on the extended universe. And when I hear the term Rogue in connection with Star Wars, I’ll always think of Corran Horn, Ooryl Qrygg, and the rest of Michael Stackpole’s novels first and foremost. And if you don’t understand what any of this previous paragraph meant, you owe it to yourself to learn more about Kyle and Corran especially.
But the de-canonization of some favorite EU characters aside, this movie was still something of a risk. Continuing the saga movies (like they did with Episode VII) is one thing. But this? It felt a little more risky.
But holy cow, I think they did a fantastic job on this movie. It very well might be my second favorite Star Wars flick to date. Like I said, Empire is going to be a hard film to dethrone.
Now the movie’s not perfect. It got off to a bit of a rocky start for me. There’s a lot of…well, stuff that just kind of gets thrown at the audience in very rapid succession and it was difficult to keep track of who was doing what. Quite honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between Cassian Andor and Bodhi Rook for the first twenty minutes or so. Plus while it’s great that they had Forest Whitaker in the movie as a guy with a bargain basement Darth Vader treatment (who’s also a throwback to the Clone Wars cartoon series, I guess?), his character was a bit too clunky for me as well.
Also problematic was that some of the CGI wizardry the FX folks attempted didn’t quite work. It was oh so close, but I knew I was looking at a CGI character the whole time and, to be quite honest, they didn’t quite get the voice right either. At least, they didn’t in my opinion.
And one thing that really bugged me was one line. One punny, silly line that should not have been delivered by the person who said it. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably know which one I’m talking about. There are just certain people who should not attempt jokes.
My finally nitpicky gripe has to do with the film’s main bad guy, Director Orson Krennic. He just didn’t do it for me. Let’s face it: Star Wars villains have always been larger than life. Krennic came across as a whiny bureaucrat who had an uncanny knack for showing up in the right place at the right time.
But all that said, I think what really got me going was the end of the movie. In many ways, it was reminiscent of the end of Return of the Jedi. You have a space battle, a land battle, and the main characters involved in the climactic guts of the movie. And the last fifteen minutes alone, I think, were worth it. Especially seeing one person do his thing. That’s all I’ll say. But you have to see it.
Oh, and the score too. It wasn’t John Williams, but the music put together by Michael Giacchino did a superb job, especially since he only had four weeks to come up with the music.
So there we have it. Not the best Star Wars movie, but a pretty good contender for #2, I think.
But how about you? Have you seen it yet? What did you think?