Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert! FatCats Gilbert is on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline and is the best place to see all of the latest movies at the box office including my number one most anticipated movie of the year, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story! To check out showtimes at FatCats Gilbert, you can click right HERE!

I couldn’t sleep the night before I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I tried to get to bed early so that I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the screening, but I was just too excited to sleep. I did end up getting a few hours, but I was way too excited to get enough. Rogue One was my number one most anticipated movie of the year back in January when I counted down my 52 most anticipated movies of 2016, and to this point, there’s no way I could see any other movie taking its place as the movie I’m most excited to see. I grew up with Star Wars, and now that it’s back to the big screen, it’s probably going to rule my excitement for a long time. I was lucky enough to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so let’s talk about the movie!

I had been hearing so much positive praise coming out of the premier in downtown Hollywood, so I was expecting a treat from the first Star Wars anthology film. I can say with full confidence that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gave me just about exactly what I wanted when I first heard that this story was going to be translated to the big screen. I wanted a gritty war film, and that’s exactly what I saw. To me, that was the best part of this movie. I loved the war scenes because while it kept the fun that Star Wars has always delivered, it also put together some of the best action scenes that I’ve seen in a Star Wars movie. It actually felt like I was watching war scenes unfold, and they were so well-directed and acted while also integrating the Star Wars mythos perfectly. I also think that this was the best story that they could possibly tell with the premise. The story is excellent, and it’s still intriguing to watch long after we saw the outcome of it back in 1977. I’m not going to go too deep into the characters until the spoiler review, but some of the standouts are K-2SO, Chirrut Îmwe, and the two main characters in Jane Erso and Cassian Andor. Those four are so well-developed, and they take the story to a brand new height. They’re not quite as strong as the characters we’ve grown to love in the saga films, but they are still extremely strong characters, and their quick-thinking is so much fun to watch. They are also almost perfectly combining compassion and aggression to become characters that are so easy to fall in love with, cheer for, and watch battle in an all out war. Finally, I love all of the nods to the saga films. If you’re familiar with the saga films, I really believe you’ll love all of the Easter eggs that are sprinkled throughout the film. Maybe I’m biased because he’s one of my favorite characters of all time, but Darth Vader takes control of the film whenever he is on-screen, and he’s used brilliantly. He is the hi light of one of the best final acts of a film I have seen this year.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gave me exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t love the movie. I just liked it. A lot of the reason is that the movie is very bumpy and up-and-down. There’s a constant mix of scenes that change extremely quickly both in quality and tone. We’ll see a great character scene or a great war scene, then a minute later we will be in the middle of a scene that is selling itself way too hard or changes tone quicker than I could adjust to. The levity works really well for the most part, especially from K-2SO, but the tone shifts were jarring. Next, I thought a few moments didn’t hit as hard as they should have. I won’t spoil anything until the spoiler article on Friday, but there are a few moments that I think should have hit harder emotionally. I can think of one in particular that really fell flat for me. I think a lot of the reason some moments fell flat were because I wasn’t invested in a lot of the characters. There are so many characters that it felt a bit bloated, and they didn’t all get the attention I would have liked to have seen.

Overall, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gave me exactly what I wanted. I wanted a well-directed war film with well-developed main characters. I wanted war scenes where the Rebels are in the fight of their life, and that’s what I ended up getting, so I can’t be disappointed, and I can’t ask for much more. As far as where it stands in the realm of Star Wars movies, I’d say it’s a good middle ground. It’s the best prequel we’ve seen, but I wouldn’t put it on the level of the original trilogy or even The Force Awakens. It does justice to the mythos, and it’s a good movie! It’s one of the most visually riveting Star Wars films, and they handled the VFX characters very well for the most part. I thought the levity worked, and Jane Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, and Chirrut Îmwe were the standout characters who pulled the emotion out and made the story work as well as it did. Don’t even get me started on the Darth Vader scenes. They were executed perfectly. The score is also good enough that I didn’t miss the classic John Williams score, and it still felt like Star Wars! I do think it’s hit-and-miss at certain points, and it goes from high to low quite often in terms of both quality and in tone, and it can be jarring. It’s pretty bloated with characters, so I didn’t care about many of them other than the four I mentioned and maybe a few more who get a good amount of screen time, and for me, that’s the reason that my heart wasn’t ripped out in moments where it probably should have been. I still liked the movie. I’ll be picking it up on Blu-ray on day one, and it gives me confidence about what we’re going to see in the future with more anthology movies. I’m going to give Rogue One: A Star Wars Story a 7.8/10.

Are you headed out to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this weekend? Who am I kidding? I think the answer is probably “yes.” Either way, comment down in the comment section and let me know! We’re getting closer to the end of the year, so be sure to stick around for plenty of reviews! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

All images courtesy of Disney

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm