Despite some questionable decisions, including a thirty minute chunk of the film that could easily have been removed, ‘Rogue One’ is a good, but not quite great, Star Wars film. It embraces the practical effects that elevate its action scenes light years ahead of the prequel trilogy but it doesn’t quite match the excellence of the original films.
After a brief glimpse into Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones) childhood, the film picks up with her trapped in a prison and her journey from there to become a member of a ragtag group of rebels tasked with stealing the plans to the Death Star from the tyrannous Empire and bringing hope to the rebellion. Its an intriguing tale, one that we catch tiny glimpses of through dialogue in the first Star Wars film, and its fascinating to see it play out here.
The first hour or so is unnecessarily bloated though. The pace is slow and a lot of the scenes could easily have been cut or even shortened as it feels at times that the film drags. Adding to that, some of the characters don’t feel as fleshed out as they could be but thankfully the last hour or so of the film remedies any concerns with some brilliant action scenes and a quickened pace. The action scenes are very well choreographed and the characters really feel like they’re up against it which adds to the tension.
Aesthetically, ‘Rogue One’ is a gorgeous film. The love and respect for the original material is evident from the first shot to the final one as the art style, locations, surprise cameos and the homage to using practical effects throughout makes it feel like a Star Wars film a lot more than some of the previous films that have come before it. Unlike the prequels though, the CGI here is minimal and when it is used, it never feels too jarring or out of place. The decision to bring certain characters back in full CGI was a bold one and there are small moments where it seems odd and misplaced but these are few and far between. It doesn’t detract from the experience at all.
Overall, Rogue One is a good Star Wars film that pays homage to the original Trilogy and leads very nicely to A New Hope, the first film. The art style is fantastic throughout and there are some truly magnificent action scenes here. Jyn’s character and the band of rebels are serviceable enough but they never quite stand out like the original characters did. Having said all that, the film ends satisfyingly and it feels good to know that Star Wars hasn’t lost its way.