By Matthew Dillon
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise: a spinoff that takes place immediately before the events of the first film. The film follows a band of Rebels and renegades trying to discover the secret of the Galactic Empire’s newest superweapon. While it is far from perfect, Rogue One is a worthy and enjoyable addition to the Star Wars franchise. It has the heart, personality and the feel of the originals, which puts it ahead of most additions to the Star Wars universe. This movie is definitely worth seeing.
While most of the advertising doesn’t make this clear, Rogue One is in fact a team movie. The team comes together in a pretty ad hoc way. They do not always feel like one, but that is what they are at the end of the day. The two main characters, fugitive Jyn and Rebel assassin Cassian, are not particularly compelling and don’t get all that much development.
Thankfully, the stellar cast of side characters more than makes up for this. Ip Man’s Donnie Yen plays the force worshiping monk Chirrut, who steals every scene he is in with his force fueled abilities. Jiang Wen plays Baze Malbus, Chirrut’s faithless and heavy gun toting companion, who is a great foil character. The real showstopper is K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial droid that lacks a filter for his constant sardonic wit. K-2SO has more charisma than most of his human counterparts and proves that Star Wars can have good comic relief characters.
Most of Rogue One is composed of constantly changing locales threaded together by a singular, compelling plot. While a lot of films suffer from an approach like this, Rogue One circumvents those issues by giving each planet the protagonists visit a distinct, interesting identity. The plot certainly has its problems, mainly the constant and largely unnecessary cameos, Rogue One had a decent plot. The last half hour of Rogue One really surprised me. It was very grim and fatalistic for a Star Wars film, even if it did end on a high note. It went in a direction that you rarely see in a major Hollywood blockbuster, much less a Star Wars film. It was very daring and made it clear that the filmmakers were really trying to do something new with the franchise. They took a real risk and that made it easier to forgive some of the film’s flaws.
Much to my surprise, I found myself enjoying Rogue One a whole lot more than The Force Awakens. It tried doing something genuinely new, fixed a lot of the franchise’s past mistakes, and the side characters actually contributed. Most importantly, it felt like a Star Wars film. So I would say that alone makes it worth seeing.