So I watched ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ a couple of days before New Year, making this only my second visit to the cinema in 2016. As a consequence, I may be a bit biased because my outings to the pictures have become so rare and I had a good time watching the film in a movie theatre. But even if I were trying to make an objective analysis of ‘Rogue One’, I think I would consider it at least a very solid science-fiction action (or rather war) movie. Three things I particularly liked about the film:
This is the first Star Wars movie since arguably ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, which doesn’t feel like it has been made mostly for the purpose of promoting merchandise. At least, it hasn’t resulted in an aggressive marketing campaign for toys, unlike ‘The Force Awakens’.
The conception of ‘Rogue One’s battle sequence and the cross-cutting between three different levels of action are second only to the grand finale of ‘Return of the Jedi’ in the Star Wars franchise. If you like Star Wars to actually have some war in it, you should appreciate this film.
This is the first Star Wars movie outside of the original trilogy, which doesn’t heavily rely on referencing the classic movies. As much as I liked ‘The Force Awakens’, it is a nostalgia fest and slavishly follows the beats of the story of ‘A New Hope’. As for the prequel trilogy, the numerous references to the original trilogy occasionally inject a little energy into these movies, making their rotting corpses twitch a little as if they were truly alive on their own. In contrast, ‘Rogue One’ can stand on its own, which is somewhat ironic if you consider that its story is all about fixing a plot hole in ‘A New Hope’.
The downside to the latter aspect of ‘Rogue One’ is that it didn’t feel to me like it was an integral part of an epic saga, but more of an afterthought. As much as I admire its nature as a stand-alone film, it is consequently lacking in “whoah moments”. Do you also experience this tingling sensation when you see the Star Wars-style opening credits and hear John Williams famous theme? Well, ‘Rogue One’ doesn’t do that and the only moment, in which ‘Rogue One’ truly felt like a Star Wars film was when Darth Vader shows up at the very end to do his thing. My guess is that, say, 50 years in the future, when academics will discuss the cultural phenomenon that was Star Wars, ‘Rogue One’ will be little more than a footnote.