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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 3.7%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 7.41%
Total Crap: 3.7%

2 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Here's another star war if you want it."
3 stars

Between regular “saga” entries of the 'Star Wars' franchise, we can now expect interstitial forays like 'Rogue One,' which tells the story of how the Death Star came to have a weak spot into which Luke Skywalker so triumphantly squeezed laser blasts in the original 'Star Wars.'

This sort of “untold story” is symptomatic of the nerdish desire to explain everything, tie everything up neatly. After all, the question of why such a fortified super-weapon should have an Achilles’ heel has plagued the world for some forty years. Now we learn it’s not a bug, it’s a feature, put there by clever scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), who has been pressed into service by the Empire to work on their big new Rebellion-crushing toy.

Rogue One follows Galen’s daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones), a hard-bitten young woman very much in the mold of Daisy Ridley’s Rey from The Force Awakens. Rarely smiling, much less showing affection for anyone other than her long-lost daddy, Jyn is apparently nouveau Star Wars’ idea of the deromanticized heroine, the brave and driven woman with no lovey-dovey distractions. This is fine with me, believe me, but the film’s screenwriters (Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy are credited) forget to humanize Jyn in any other sense. (Her preoccupation with running a mission to realize her father’s plan just defines her in terms of a man anyway.)

The story is simple — Jyn has to get the Death Star plans, which include where the thing’s weakness is, into the hands of Princess Leia — and the movie is much more consistently and consciously a war picture than any other Star Wars film. Things blow up, large objects plummet and fly apart, Stormtroopers and Rebel warriors kill and die by the dozens. After a while, the combat becomes numbing, monotonous, locked into the technology from the original trilogy (the lumbering AT-ATs from The Empire Strikes Back make an appearance). Despite all this, the plot is needlessly convoluted, involving a variety of ragged grayhats who come together in the common cause of defeating the Empire. If there’s a reason the extremist character Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) really needed to be in the movie, I’ve already forgotten it. Rogue One starts wearing out its welcome at about the hour mark, and there’s another 75 minutes to go; the movie, lumbering like those AT-ATs, feels like it stomps along forever.

Some humanity occasionally peeks over the rubble. Everyone enjoyed Alan Tudyk’s vocal performance as the reformed/reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO, who tends towards brutal honesty at inopportune times, and I liked him too. The ethnic diversity of the cast is a merit, including the calming Zen presence of Donnie Yen as the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe, who feels one with the Force even if he’s not an official Jedi. Oddly, the Stormtroopers, reliably inept and fond of doofus small talk about the latest Imperial tech (someone on this production obviously remembered the goofball Stormtrooper exchange about the VT-16 in Star Wars), seem to be the most relatable characters despite being cannon fodder — but then, almost everyone in Rogue One is cannon fodder.

That’s a potentially interesting thing to do in a $200 million movie that’s part of a multibillion-dollar franchise — a nihilistic, die-with-honor war film. Here, though, it comes off as a little cold. Seeing all those Stormtroopers bite it, I was reminded again that at least a few of them could be like Finn in The Force Awakens, sickened by slaughter and in desperate need of flight and redemption. Rogue One couldn’t care less about that, and cares scarcely more about the Rebel Alliance heroes.

The people we’re introduced to in "Rogue One" will never be seen again in the films (I suppose there might be spin-off comics or novels about them), their ultimate sacrifice known by few and remembered by fewer. "Empire Strikes Back" had its dark and dissonant moments (I still remember a post-torture Han Solo moaning “They didn’t even ask me any questions”), but at least it wasn’t depressing.

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originally posted: 05/04/17 08:32:04
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User Comments

3/05/19 Admiral Raddus Rogue One, may the Force be with you. 5 stars
12/24/17 Chris Did the orignals proud unlike the sham the force awakens 5 stars
12/04/17 Oz1701 an interesting idea but it did feel like i was watching gameplay at times 3 stars
7/21/17 Chaz Walter It was really cool to see a film centering on the building of the Death Star. 5 stars
5/31/17 zenny Starts good, but then the CGI battles go on and on and on... zzzz... 3 stars
12/31/16 the truth Good action moments made boring by dull characters until Darth Vader starts kicking ass 3 stars
12/28/16 J The prequel that Lucas wishes he could have made. 5 stars
12/27/16 Flipside Bri Very lackluster compared to Force Awakens. The characters are mostly boring. 2 stars
12/27/16 Koitus Very well done. "True" to gamers of "Battlefront" and "Empire at War." 5 stars
12/24/16 Dawg Shark First Star Wars movie to even make an attempt at bringing the reality of war to the screen 5 stars
12/22/16 mr.mike 1st half just ok, 2nd half kicks ass. 4 stars
12/21/16 Chris 10 Times better than that garbage The force awakens. 5 stars
12/18/16 ActionMovieFan I want to sodomize Felicity Jones, fantastic movie by the way. 5 stars
12/18/16 Jack It should come with a laugh track. Especially when pencil legs Vader shows up. 1 stars
12/16/16 Bob Dog The story hops from Planet Dull to Planet Duller, but Rogue One's not bad as a comedy. 2 stars
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  16-Dec-2016 (PG-13)

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