We saw Rogue One! It had X-wings! And Rebels stealing the Death Star plans! And sweet capes!
What did we think of the story? Did it live up to expectations? Find out after the jump!
Brian: The tl;dnr version is that while it had some flaws (some frustrating), Rogue One was a film I enjoyed quite a bit. Bad stuff out of the way first. Elephant in the room is the real lack of women, not just in the primary cast but in the background. Coming off TFA where there were women as officers, pilots, and even Stormtroopers, the overwhelming maleness of the cast was rather jarring. The pacing in the first half felt a little uneven to me, but picked up nicely in the second half. Now to the good stuff! The cinematography is gorgeous, and the Battle of Scarif alone is enough to see why Edwards was picked to helm this film. For my money that was the second greatest space battle in the franchise, behind only Return of the Jedi. The high number of POC actors in the main ensemble was a delight. Krennic chewed just enough scenery. Vader was there in a limited role, but oh goodness did they make that limited role count. I will say I was both surprised (in a good way) to see the whole cast killed off. I really didn’t think Lucasfilm or Disney would go through with that, and I think that bodes well for the future of Star Wars. Not that they’ll kill everyone, but that they’ll go for the tough choices and decisions when the story benefits from it.
Nanci: Rogue One succeeds in being a great first standalone film, ensuring that Star Wars will never die in the cinema. More than that, it’s a solid addition to the Star Wars saga as a whole. I loved seeing more about the inner workings of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire. I flailed every time Yavin 4 was on-screen. I wish we’d gotten to see some of the Imperial Senate. Vader’s Castle is canon! I liked all the characters, especially Bodhi and K-2S0. All the deaths made me misty-eyed, even Krennic, because it was such beautiful hubris. Vader’s scene at the end was utterly terrifying and delightful at the same time. I wish there had been more ladies. I wish they hadn’t used CGI on human characters. I wish this had been an X-wing movie. But overall, I’m happy with the film and want to watch it again and again. I particularly can’t wait until the Blu Ray comes out and I can pause the Yavin scenes to look for familiar pilots in the background. I think the best thing about Rogue One is how it expands the Star Wars universe. It really is an EU book on screen, and I hope we get more movies like it.
Bria: Look. I know I have an Organa problem but I was so delighted by seeing Bail Organa that poor Jay from Eleven Thirty-Eight probably has bruises on his arm from how wildly I flailed every time Bail was on the screen. Alderaan’s favored son! *hearts in my eyes emoji* Oh wait… there was something else that happened in this film aside from House Organa being rad? Right. I liked Rogue One. I really did. I laughed, I cried, and I flailed some more. I fell completely in love with K-2SO despite my best intentions and I just wanted to hug everyone in the main cast to me and keep them safe. (Except for Krennic. Kriff that guy. He’s THE WORST.) The nods to the rest of the Star Wars universe are delightful and people are going to be talking about the Battle of Scarif for decades to come. The biggest problem I had with the film was how many men were just… everywhere. Just swap even a third of those extras for women and we’d be good. At the end of the day though, I was happy with Rogue One. I was really really happy and I can’t wait to talk about this film with my fellow fans!
Matthew: Liked it, didn’t love it. Gorgeous cinematography and superb performances from what I believe is the most ethnically diverse cast in a Star Wars film yet can’t hide the fact that the script is a little scattered. Paced too quickly with too many characters, it lacks focus; it tries to follow too many character threads and winds up not doing any of them justice. As much as I liked Mads Mikkelsen’s performance, most of his material should have probably been shelved as so to place more focus on Jyn. I enjoyed Bodhi, Chirrut, Cassian, Saw, even K-2SO, thanks again in part to fantastic acting all around, but they all have so little screen time that any character exploration felt less like genuine development and more like tantalizing hints for future spin-off media. There’s a CGI character that’s horribly unsettling; technology seems to be approaching the uncanny valley gap only by halves, inching ever closer but doomed never to reach its destination. And Michael Giacchino’s score, while competent, seems hamstrung either by the fact that the composer is too aware of the shadow of John Williams, or simply the fact that Giacchino had a month to write the thing.
All that said, I did enjoy myself; it’s almost certainly the most beautiful Star Wars film to date, the action is all well-staged and executed, there are a number of nods (both large and small) to the larger franchise that I appreciated, and again, the performances are almost universally great. It just feels like they tried to do too much within the limited space afforded by a two-hour film, and the end result feels unfocused, scattered, and at times superficial as a result. And as others have pointed out: yo, where are the ladies?
Amanda: There were flaws, okay. Central Casting apparently ran out of properly credentialed women to send to set for crowd scenes. The title cards showing every location except for one annoyed me- a lot. Was that supposed to be Mustafar? I’ll let you know when I finish the novelization. And yet, my overall impression of Rogue One is: “YES, HOLY YES, HOORAY AND CAN WE PLEASE HAVE AN ENTIRE BLURAY FEATURETTE OF NOTHING BUT BAIL ORGANA BEING BAIL ORGANA??!!” (Yes, Bria and I concur on all things Alderaan). This film was epic in its scope, brilliant in its execution, and a piece of the Star Wars universe that I will treasure forever. I was prepared for loving and losing these new characters, but nothing could have prepared me to love Chirrut the way I do. And as much as I was sure I would enjoy K-2SO, I had no idea I would *adore* him. I love that we got an excellent sense in this film of why Vader is so feared and “so bold”. Tarkin was fantastically Tarkin, and his rivalry with the equally malfeasant Krennic warmed the cockles of my wicked little heart. It was every bit the movie it needed to be- with standout performances, homages to the OT woven throughout, and the look and feel of Star Wars as we’ve always known it. I’ll be seeing it again immediately.