Review - Rogue One
One might be forgiven for dismissing ‘Rogue One’ as the first of many Disney cash-grabs. However, a great effort has been made to make the film a fitting addition to the Star Wars saga.
Perhaps the most unexpected quality of ‘Rogue One’ is that it feels like an adult Star Wars film - made for the now grown-up fans of the originals. In the prequels, you had bumbling droids and a clumsy Jar Jar Binks to distract us from the fact Anakin Skywalker had just murdered women and children and betrayed the galaxy. Here, the only comic relief is the dark humour of K-2SO, a reprogrammed imperial droid, much the antithesis of C-3PO. Perhaps one of the darkest moments of the entire series lies in the last scene, where Vader butchers rebel soldiers with his lightsabre as they try to escape.
Talking about special effects in a Sci-Fi film these days is like beating a dead horse, but it has to be said the use of models and CGI in ‘Rogue One’ are markedly brilliant and deserve mentioning: from the shots of the Death Star half-cloaked in the azure blue of planetary atmosphere to the Star Destroyer hovering above an imperial occupied city. But perhaps the most noteworthy is the film’s resurrection of Peter Cushing, the actor who played Grand Moff Tarkin in ‘A New Hope’ and a young Princess Leia. The characters’ faces are thrust right in front of the screen and although not always convincing and slightly creepy, it cannot be denied the technology has come a long way.
‘Rogue One’ does have its faults. The first half hour leapfrogs from planet to planet for short one minute scenes and is a little unfocused. It threatens to turn into a cheesy parody of itself at times (Vader’s ‘choke’ pun and his evil base that looks like something from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ spring to mind). The last third of the movie is crammed with nostalgia trips that like ‘The Force Awakens’ either pay homage or rip-off the original trilogy. Although this may be something the audience wants, the impression is that it is not a sustainable model for the successive Star Wars films that will churn out either blessing or cursing us until the day we die. There is also the question of if this was a story that needed to be told. Star Wars is a rich and expansive fantasy, yet the first spin-off takes the audience on a journey already knowing how it ends.
That said ‘Rogue One’ is a solid addition to the franchise, with a charming score by Michael Giacchino (the same composer behind the modern Star Trek movies). Fans will undoubtedly get a fix from this, even if the bread is already starting to get a little hard.