Rogue One: Spoiler-Free Review

I’m about to head off for a library meeting in Bangor, but I wanted to get this out before I left. I went to the first showing of Rogue One last night that I could. 7pm. Took Tomas and DC with me, despite having heard that the movie is aimed more at adults. (I think my kids would have mutinied if I’d gone by myself, or if I’d just taken Tomas. I took both of them to Episode VII, after all.) The theater was full, but not sold out by any means. (Can I just say once again how awesome it is to live in a place where I pay $6 for adult full-price tickets and $4 for kids? Yeah.)

Without getting into any spoilers, I loved the movie. Speaking as a Star Wars fan, it’s the prequel we always wish existed. It perfectly sets up Episode IV, and I wanted to go home and watch A New Hope right off. What was to like?

  • The characters were very well done and well acted. You cared about these people, and that’s huge. Ever since Episode IV, much of the tension of the Star Wars universe has rested in our investment in the Skywalker family and its outcome. We see the same characters again and again. There are new ones introduced, but they’re not as important. Rogue One has almost a whole new slate of characters. And they’re diverse and awesome.
  • It’s set in the Star Wars universe, it fits into all that we know of Star Wars, but it doesn’t star Jedi. These are normal people, doing their best, having trust in the Force as best they can, even though they can’t throw rocks around a room with their minds. It really fleshed out the universe in a great way.
  • It’s a war movie. Go into this thinking Dirty Dozen or Guns of Navarone, and then add Star Wars to that. I asked the kids what they thought of it at the end, and they were both a bit ambivalent. Why? Because (and I don’t think this is a spoiler to anyone at all) not everybody lives. Those great characters they came to know and love? Some of them die. (I won’t say how many, though.)
  • The score was fantastic, despite John Williams not being the composer. It was its own thing, with just enough of the themes thrown in to make it fit into the greater whole. Well done, Mr. Giacchino. It was a big relief, honestly. I was worried it wouldn’t work.
  • The cameos are great. They’re peppered throughout, both blatant and subtle, and it was fun trying to spot them all. A great reason to see the movie with a theater full of fans.
  • The plot was very well done too. In a way, this movie is very much like Titanic or another history-based film. We all know the ending from the outset, so the interest comes from finding out how they get there. It’s a real ride, in this case.
  • Actions scenes and effects were completely awesome. There were multiple scenes in the last third of the film that just worked 100% on every level. Really moving, thrilling, playing on bits from the earlier movies, throwing in new stuff. The best action of any Star Wars movie. Period.

I could go on, but I’m short on time. Was it a perfect movie? It’s hard for me to assess, since I’m a big fan, and I have a hard time setting that aside. If you’re a big fan, I think you’ll adore this film. If you’re ambivalent, I still think you’ll love it. If you’re not a fan or haven’t seen any of the other movies, I think it’s a 4/5, most likely. Really well done.

If I had any complaints, it would be that the set up felt like it took too long. Once the movie was about half way through, then everything starts to really pop, and then it just goes into a whole new level toward the end. But then again, all that set up was the stuff that made me care about the characters, so how can they take it away and still have the impact at the end?

Anyway. I have to run, but those are my thoughts for now. Feel free to get into spoilers in the comments, BUT BE WARNED THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS.

5/5 Loved loved loved it.

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