Rogue One: A Star Wars Review
December 20, 2016
Reshoots: the scourge of the modern blockbuster; a seemingly innocent and well intentioned process that often times ruins a film through mixed theming and incoherence. But, is this what happened with the first Disney live action Star Wars spinoff film, Rogue One? Partially.
Rogue One is not a bad film. In fact, it is very enjoyable: I like it better than The Force Awakens. However, the thought of what this film could have been is saddening. Throughout the film, scenes of character moments cut short are apparent, and “trimming of the fat” is obvious. Some of the film’s best lines and shots that appear in the trailers are nowhere in the film. We may never know the extent of the reshoots, and probably will never see the footage they cut. One can imagine a master piece on the cutting room floor.
Another lost piece to the puzzle was the music, which was originally supposed to be scored by Oscar winning composer Alexandre Desplat. His rendition of the score, which can be heard in the trailers, was beautiful. But with the reshoots came the need for new music, and he was unavailable to compose. So, Lucasfilm hired Michael Giacchino, the Oscar award winning composer of Up. I’m willing to give Giacchino the benefit of the doubt, mostly because of his impressive library and the rumor Disney’s timeline was unreasonably short. Regardless, the score for Rogue One is forgettable.
On the flip side, most of the characters were well written, and had great chemistry. K2-SO (Alan Tudyk) is hilarious; the reprogrammed imperial droid doesn’t have a filter, and is very sarcastic. Donnie Yen’s character, Chirrut Imwe, is a blind monk who believes in the power of the Force, but is incapable of using it. Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the lead of the film who is recruited by the rebellion to help find her father, who helped build the Death Star. She is a reluctant hero, who has priorities other than the freedom of the galaxy. Playing the villain is Ben Mendelsohn, as Director Krennic, the man in charge of the construction of the Death Star. His position puts him above most higher ups, but his lack of ultimately superior rank infuriates him, and turns out to be his fatal flaw. Unfortunately, Krennic isn’t used to his full affect, and likely had several great scenes cut. Darth Vader also played a small, but robust role.
However, the most refreshing part of the film is its creativity. In Rogue One we see new ships, aliens, and storm troopers, all of which fit nicely into the established lore of Star Wars. The interesting production design is a large part of the appeal in these movies, and Rogue One nailed it. In terms of story, this is unlike anything we’ve seen from Star Wars before. It genuinely feels like a war film, most of the plot points of which could easily be transferred to a modern military movie, the final act especially.
Something director Gareth Edwards didn’t shy away from was cameos. It’s as if they think we had forgotten this took place in the Star Wars universe, so they need to remind us every 10 or 15 minutes with a scene that has absolutely no impact on the story of the film, and just wastes time. When the music changes when a cameo character enter the frame, and the camera zooms up on them, it pulls people out of the movie. Can this really be a stand alone film with the amount of screen time allotted to referencing other movies?
In conclusion, Rogue One is a flawed, but very enjoyable film. Its overall tone is a breath of fresh air for the franchise. Perhaps Star Wars can reach true greatness under Disney, but we aren’t quite there yet.