Plot/Summary: Jane Erso (Felicity Jones), a rebel soldier and criminal, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when Mon Mothma sets her out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. With help from the rebels, a master swordsman, and non allied forces, Jyn will be in for something bigger than she thinks. I am going to assume you have seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. If you have not seen Episode IV or are not steeped in the Star Wars mythos you will find yourself lost at times in this film. However, if you fancy yourself a true Star Wars aficionado than this film is rife with Easter eggs just for you. When Rogue One focuses on its own story it is phenomenal, but when it focuses on fan service the film struggles. 8/10
Characterization: Perhaps where Star Wars films have been strongest in the past is characterization. However, this film is riddled with underdeveloped characters. Felicity Jones is fantastic as Jane. Diego Luna was also great in the film. Donnie Yen, who was spectacular, really just seemed to be in the film for action sequences. By far for me K-27O was my favorite part of this film however he is noticeably absent from a great deal of the film. Many characters in this film simply do not have enough screen time. This film spent a little too much time paying homage to so many characters from Episode IV and it simply did not have time to vet many new characters we were dying to find out more information about. 7.75/10
Cinematography/Direction In this category Rogue One shines. As you would expect from the artisans at Lucasfilm, Rogue One is an action-packed, visual extravaganza which spares no expense in the effect and production design departments. In some ways it is a new look at this familiar saga. While Production Designers Neil Lamont (Harry Potter) and Doug Chiang (Star Wars “prequels”) have spent a lot of time looking towards the original films for inspiration, Greig Frasier (Zero Dark Thirty), the cameraman, brought some much needed experimentation to the classic visuals of the series. From his muddler, high-light free palette (at least partly as a result of the choice to shoot on the Arri Alexa digital camera and its more constrained color space) to his choice of handheld shots and atmospheric close-ups, Fraser has brought a new look to the galaxy far, far away and in turn delivered a Star Wars film which does and doesn’t look like a Star Wars film. 9.5/10
Conclusion: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a difficult movie to rank. This movie is a visual masterpiece with great performances. However at times Rogue One fills the need to shoe horn in Easter eggs. Many of the actual battle scenes are some of the most gritty war scenes in Star Wars to date. However Forest Whitaker is absolutely terrible as Saw Gerrera. If someone said they loved this film I would completely understand; the action set pieces, the humor, and Felicity Jones were all spectacular. If someone said they hated this film I would completely understand; too much fan service, and the lack of screen time of some of the best characters (Darth Vader, K-27O) were disappointing. In my estimation Rogue One is Star Wars for hardcore fans who felt left behind by the prequels, but it has little to offer casual viewers beyond a competent action film.
Final Score: 8.4/10