Q: Let’s get right to it: Is this a good movie?
A: Yes, this is a very good movie. Definitely go see it.
Q: What’s your new power ranking for the franchise?
A: Rogue One is a worthy entry in the series; however, just as it comes between the two existing trilogies in the timeline, it comes between them in quality, as well.
- The Empire Strikes Back 2. Return of the Jedi 3. The Force Awakens 4. A New Hope 5. Rogue One 6. Revenge of the Sith 7. Phantom Menace 8. Attack of the Clones
Don’t let that low ranking fool you–it’s only because the films above it are so awesome. Rogue One is a terrific bit of entertainment.
This is my purely subjective preference, though. Actually, I think that, as a film, Rogue One is better made than The Force Awakens.
Q: Is this film really dark?
A: Yes, though it’s not a tragedy–it’s a tale of triumph in the face of overwhelming adversity. But here’s the thing: this movie is an experiment. Disney wants to see if the Star Wars universe can support different kinds of stories. I think the risk totally paid off.
But they’ve given us something new here: there’s no gee-whiz childlike wonder in this movie. This is a gritty film about adult choices; it’s a meditation on redemption through sacrifice for a greater good. Thematically, tonally, structurally, it’s not at all like most Star Wars movies. It is, however, closest to The Empire Strikes Back.
I read one review that likened it to Ocean’s 11. That was dumb. It’s much more like Saving Private Ryan. In a good way.
Q: Is it humorless?
A: No. I have no idea why people are saying this. Multiple characters get some good jokes in, and one supporting character is consistently strong comic relief. It has the normal level of humor for a Star Wars movie.
Q: Is it OK for kids?
A: Sure. It’s still a perfectly family-friendly PG-13; there’s a lot of people getting shot by lasers and such, but nothing gory. The biggest danger for little ones will be getting bored between action pieces.
Q: So is this “the first Star Wars movie to admit that this is about war?”
A: No, that’s stupid. Three words for you: “Battle of Hoth.”
Q: Is it actually “the prequel film the fans always deserved?”
A: Yes. Yes it is!
Q: Is it a really political movie?
A: No, no more so than most any movie. If you want to relate anything here to real world politics, you’ll have to dig into some really trivial details. Like any good movie, options exist to support any theory. But the last two Captain America movies, for example, are way more overtly political than Rogue One.
Q: Isn’t this whole movie just a minor footnote to the larger saga?
A: Yes, but that’s the glory of it. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the forgotten heroes that make the stuff on center stage possible. If this is the Star Wars version of Saving Private Ryan, don’t all front-line warriors deserve to be honored?
Also, it solves one of movie history’s more glaring plot holes quite beautifully.
Q: Are the trailers accurate?
A: Not at all. A ton of great stuff in the trailers is not in the movie. The whole “brave rebels giving the Empire the middle finger” tone of the trailers is way off. The movie is much more serious than that.
Q: Biggest strengths?
A: It’s acted and directed very well (Gareth Edwards has a great future), and the writing is solid–great logic and pacing. A gorgeous film made very cleanly.
Q: Any criticisms?
A: Characters are often underdeveloped. Maybe because there are too many. We never get close to more than a few. It’s an understandable flaw, but a flaw nonetheless. Remember how surprised you were in The Force Awakens to react so strongly to new characters like Poe Dameron and Maz Kanata and Kylo Ren? There’s very little of that in Rogue One. I absolutely loved Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, though–that’s a fantastic new character. Of course, I’m going to love any movie that has Donnie Yen kicking butt with a quarter staff.
Also, a friend of mine keeps pointing out the lack of memorable scoring in these last two Star Wars movies now. He’s right–they’re serviceable, but hardly noteworthy. Michael Giacchino did here what he did in Jurassic World–a wonderful job of integrating and honoring the classic John Williams score, but disappearing when he had to carry it on his own. Where’s the visionary Giacchino who did the music for 2009’s Star Trek? That music rocked.
Q: I heard that there’s an old character resurrected by CGI. How’d that go?
A: Badly. The character’s presence is excellent, but the animation making it happen is surprisingly crude.
Q: How did they handle the conventions of the franchise without being a major “episode” film?
A: Very well.
Q: Excessive fan service and Easter eggs?
A: Not really, no. There are some, but they’re mostly tasteful and appropriate. Necessary, even. Only one got on my nerves. A couple really impressed me.