by Coop Cooper
When Disney announced the development of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, I felt it had even more potential than “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which didn’t fully live up to my expectations. Being the first “Star Wars” spinoff film also meant that it would usher in a new kind of “Star Wars” movie, connected to the originals, yet divorced from the linear ‘Luke Skywalker’ storyline. While “Rogue One” helped expand the mythology, offered some thrilling scenes and added valuably to the franchise, it was still no better than “The Force Awakens” due to glaring flaws in plot, pacing and character development.
Taking place mere days before “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (the original 1977 film), the story follows a ragtag band of Rebel spies trying to steal the plans for the original Death Star which will eventually lead to Luke Skywalker destroying it.
Outlaw Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is captured and recruited by the Rebel Alliance to make contact with her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) who is the reluctant designer of the Death Star super-weapon. Jyn’s handler, Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) has orders to use Jyn to locate and assassinate Galen but a series of events leads Jyn and Cassian to assemble a team to launch an assault on a well-defended Imperial base in order to locate the Death Star plans and transmit them to the Alliance. Meanwhile, Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the officer in charge of the Death Star’s construction, attempts to thwart any threat against his pet project, despite his superiors (including Darth Vader) breathing down the back of his neck.
When I learned of this film’s development, I quickly made a list of things that needed to happen in “Rogue One” to preserve the continuity of the Star Wars franchise, and a list of things I wanted to see in order for the film to satisfying to Star Wars super fans like myself. Some of these would spoil the story so I’ll stick to the ones that won’t…
1. The previews already revealed that we would see Vader again, but I also figured there were at least 3-4 major characters from the original “Star Wars” film who could make an appearance based on the timeline (I was not disappointed and even minor characters were shoehorned in to varying degrees of success). 2. I knew that based on continuity, not all of the Rogue One team would make it out alive (also correct). 3. I was also hoping that A. Vader would play a substantial/lengthy part in hunting the Rogue One team down or B. He would at least have one amazing scene that would leave fans cheering (only one of these is correct). 4. The film would end in a spectacular battle (it does).
Although all of these requirements/hopes were filled, the most basic ones every movie should fulfill weren’t met. The plotting was sloppy, the character development was almost non-existent and a lot of the heroic sacrifice wasn’t earned enough to warrant caring for most of the lead characters. The most sympathetic character out of the entire team was the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) whose sarcastic quips and witty banter gave us at least one person (or robot) to care about. The two warrior monks Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) have a couple of great moments, but really they were just tagging along with no valid reason for being there. Plus their order, which protects the old relics/history of the extinct Jedi – I think, was barely explained or given any validity. Also, Cassian Andor is a cynical spy and assassin who isn’t very likable and it is debatable whether he earns his redemption in the end. Jyn Erso never gets a chance to prove she can be an effective leader before leading the Rogue One team on the most important mission in the galaxy. It doesn’t move forward quickly, most of the time is wasted bringing the team together, the ending was abrupt… these flaws in characterization and plot go on and on.
Additionally, while trying to achieve the virtue of a diverse cast, there were so many different foreign accents speaking quickly (British, Chinese, Spanish, Middle Eastern, African), subtitles almost seemed necessary for the majority of the film. I’d like to think I have a good ear for understanding accents, but this was too difficult even for me to catch all of the dialogue, in broken English or otherwise.
“Rogue One” is definitely worth seeing and pays service to the fans during the critical moments. The script felt unfinished and sloppy, but a second viewing might help me get past some of these glaring mistakes. I hope Disney will have more time to develop a satisfying Han Solo spinoff they are promising, as well as polishing the next film (Episode VIII) to avoid the problems that plagued “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens”.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars