By Niall Love
Rouge One is a new kind of Star Wars film because it focuses on the people in the background of the war rather than the main leaders of the likes of the Rebels, or the Empire Separatists. It tells the story of how the rebels acquired the plans for the original Death Star in Episode IV: A New Hope. So it’s like a war movie where we see the spies gather Intel in preparation for a pitched battle rather than the pitched battle itself.
And it’s actually really good. You’d think that it be pointless and just a shameless cash grab but it’s engaging and innovative for a Star Wars movie. True, there have been other spin off Star Wars movies like the Clone Wars cartoon but this one has a real story to tell, it adds and even improves some aspects of the original trilogy. This is especially refreshing as Episode VII was mostly a pastiche of the originals. So people just wanting to see a bunch of lightsaber fights might be disappointed. In spite of this it has great action, its constantly exciting with some cool dogfights in space and features a nice variety of locations, from deserts to canyons to tropical beaches. Not to mention some cameos form some of the famous characters and yes “he” does appear in it.
Other points of praise are that instead of having the whole cast clearly in either the light or dark side of the force, some of the characters are not clear cut good guys. We seem some of them do some under handed stuff. Which is again very refreshing for a Star Wars movie. Like in other Star Wars movies its prepared to kill off some of its protagonists which is really rare for any kind of movie, though spoilers intact as to who does and does not make it out
However the best part of the movie is K-2SO a robot from the empire who’s been reprogramed to side with the Rebels. He is the comic relief and he is hilarious all of his jokes and witty retort work. He is truly the anti-Jar Jar. But he’s not just for jokes he is actually useful to the plot and even has his own fight scenes. In one great moment where a Stormtrooper is questioning him and K-2SO just punches him in the head. Alan Tudyk deserves an award for his amazing performance. Even frame he is on screen is a delight to watch. His toys will be next Christmas’s bestselling toy!
Other positives include no Jar Jar Binks, the script was not written by George Lucas so there is none of the trade mark awful dialog, the CGI is used smartly and not just mindlessly dumped on screen like it is in so many other movies (other than one scene with some gratuitous squid monster).
Now the film is not without its flaws. There is no opening crawl of yellow text like there are in the other seven episodes, and it just doesn’t feel right without it it’s a Star Wars tradition. Likewise none of the trademark music is used and the music that is used is pretty bland and generic. Which again is something Star Wars is famous for. Even the Prequels got these little details right. The first 15 minutes are also quite confusing as it keeps jumping from planet to planet showing the different characters and its really disorienting and made worse by the fact they all new planets we’ve never seen before, so not like we have any prior context because there no Hoth, Naboo or Jaku. But the biggest weakness must be the villain Director Orson Krennic. He’s just some pompous pen pusher in a white cape. He really pales in comparison to some of the great villains in the Star Wars Canon like Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Emperor Palpatine, Boba Fett. Even weaker villains like Count Duku, Newt Gunray and even General Grievous were better than him.
The differences do not stand in the way, however, of Rouge One being a fast past exciting movie that shows us a different side of a Galaxy far, far away.