Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a 2016 film written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy and directed by Gareth Edwards. It is the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series and takes places immediately before Star Wars: A New Hope. The film stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso – the unwilling designer of the Death Star – played by Mads Mikkelsen. The film tells the story of the rebels who retrieved the Death Star plans. The film also stars Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, and Forest Whitaker.
It becomes quite obvious by the midway point of the film that it more or less solely exists to fix the gaping plot hole that is the exhaust vent in the Death Star; it’s one and only weak point and the glaring vulnerability that made it so easy to destroy.
Despite this, the filmmakers manage to make a solid film built around this purpose. This is perhaps because they chose to focus on Jyn and her journey toward being involved with the Rebel Alliance and eventually stealing the Death Star plans, rather than on her father Galen and the construction of the Death Star. It’s likely a more exciting story and it’s not the route one would expect to be taken in order to retcon that specific detail. By choosing to construct the story of the film the way that they did, the filmmakers essentially killed two birds with one stone; how the rebels obtained the Death Star plans and why the exhaust vent existed.
It’s not the most compelling of stories as executed in the film, but it is serviceable.
There is plenty of action to drive the film forward, but it kind of meanders and goes nowhere for a fair bit of it’s run time. There are no real peaks or exciting moments leading up to the film’s climax. It’s middling at best for roughly – or even a little more than – two-thirds of its duration. It’s more or less the characters going from Point A to Point B until the big finale. It’s not as thrilling as the premise would suggest.
The acting in the film is competent. There is no one performance that stands out as very bad or very good. All of the actors do well in their roles and make their characters relatable and believable. Forest Whitaker’s voice as Saw Gerrera is rather odd and takes some getting used to, however.
None of the characters, besides Jyn, are particularly well developed. They just show up on screen and do what they were written to do. Here and there they give tidbits, very small ones, about what their lives have been and are like. The viewer does get some sense of who they are just by watching them, however. There is not a great deal of depth to the characters, but it’s enough to want to follow them over the course of the film and to enjoy watching them on screen.
The two best characters are K-2SO and Chirrut Îmwe, played by Alan Tudyk and Donnie Yen, because they are the comic relief and the funny badass, respectively. They’re more accessible and thereby easier to like and latch onto than the other characters, including Jyn, the main character. K-2SO is sassy and witty and literally has no filter. If he truly is what Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be, then the makers of the prequel films really dropped the ball on that character. Chirrut has some of the best action moments in the film and utters its funniest line.
Together, the two have of some of the best moments in the film. The film itself is a lot funnier than one would expect. There is humour peppered throughout and it works; it does not feel awkward or out of place.
Jyn is easy to sympathise with and the viewer fully understands the motivations behind her actions. She serves as the emotional core of the film because of her relationship with her father. About half of the film has less to do with what’s as stake given the Galactic Empire’s control of the galaxy and the completion of the Death Star, and more to do with what’s at stake for Jyn and Galen as father and daughter. When Jyn shifts her focus to the Galactic Empire and the Death Star, the reason behind it is not exactly original, but it works and it makes sense.
The CGI for the majority of the film is very good. It was seamlessly incorporated except for one scene involving a tentacle monster.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an okay film. It’s watchable but it’s not very engaging or evocative and much of it isn’t particularly riveting. It has far more funny moments than cool or epic ones and is not as enjoyable a watch as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It is, however, a well made film.