From the off I feel I should warn you; this Rogue One review contains spoilers. It has to. So if you haven’t seen it yet, close down this page and come back again when you have.
Has everyone who needs to go gone?
Good, I’ll begin.
I knew very little of Rogue One going into it. While I knew it was about members of the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans for the Death Star, for some reason I had it in my head that it would take place a few years before the events of A New Hope.
But I was wrong.
And that’s the masterstroke of Rogue One.
It takes place right before it, finally culminating in a scene that actually leads in to the opening scene of the first Star Wars movie.
And in doing so, it has repercussions.
The first is that every heroic character created for this movie dies. They had to, otherwise you could ask why they weren’t in any of the original movies, and I thought it made for a refreshing change to what we’ve come to expect from Hollywood.
We now live in a world where the sequel is king. Nothing of any real consequences happens to the heroes in movies now because they are obviously being protected for a raft of inevitable follow-ups. But here, every character was expendable. They were one-and-done creations that had no use beyond this movie.
So they are all killed off and as a result, Rogue One became more believable and dramatic.
I should point out as well that I was pretty saddened by that despite loving that they ended up dead, because there were some great characters in there, from the Sheldon Cooper-esque K-2SO droid to the fantastic Oriental double act. These were some of the best and most well-rounded characters we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe, but like I say, they had to die.
Anyway, the other main repercussion that stemmed from setting Rogue One right before A New Hope is that certain characters needed to be a part of it.
Obviously Darth Vader was easy enough to bring back, even though he sounded very old thanks to James Earl Jones’s declining voice, but you’d assume that Grand Moff Tarkin might be a little tougher to replace seeing as Peter Cushing is long since dead.
And yet you’d be wrong. I was genuinely shocked to see that for all intents and purposes, Peter Cushing is in this movie. Technical wizardry – a use of CGI that is actually head turning in these days of over-reliance on computer imagery – means that they were able to have another actor play the part and then super-impose Cushing’s head onto him.
It was a bit freaky, but it added so much authenticity to the movie.
You can keep your constant ‘New York gets destroyed’ use of CGI, Hollywood, this is the proper way to use it!
Speaking of CGI, while I’m sure that it was employed all the way through Rogue One, what I liked about this movie was that it seemed like it didn’t rely too heavily on it. Maybe I’m wrong, but a lot of the sets, scenery and worlds it visited looked like they were brought to life with old-fashioned costume and set design. To me that makes a difference; it makes the Star Wars universe seem more complete than the cold and clinical CGI wankfests you see in the likes of Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and the Marvel movies.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Rogue One had an interesting and engrossing plot and a sharp and at times funny script. That’s the most important thing isn’t it?
Even though it lasts for 2hrs14m, it didn’t feel like it dragged at any point.
If I had any complaint, it would be that the inevitable battle scene towards the end went on for a bit, but as I say above, the fact that it had repercussions softened that blow a little bit for me.
So, to sum up, maybe I’m biased because I love Star Wars, and maybe it’s that I’m still on an initial high from seeing it at the cinema, but for me, Rogue One is the best movie of the year.
I won’t bother saying that you should see it, because if you’ve read this far then you must have already.
So do you agree or have I been too generous?