Rogue One (2016)

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

I am not a Star Wars aficionado. But I think my husband slipped something into our marriage vows about “through sickness, health, and all Star Wars sequels and prequels and spin-offs…” So I am obligated, as a dutiful wife, to view Star Wars movies on a fairly regular basis. Not that I mind. As a whole, the Star Wars series is pretty engaging in terms of plot and certifiably awesome in terms of effects and other movie-making magic.

Rogue One is probably the weakest link in the Star Wars chain, but that’s what it is–a link. This film fills in the story immediately before the action of Episode IV (the first-first Star Wars movie, for those of you who don’t know). It follows young heroine Jyn Erso in her mission to get the plans for the Death Star (and its fatal flaw) into the hands of the Rebel Alliance.

If you’re a Star Wars person, of course you will have seen Rogue One and appreciated its value as an addition to the world of Star Wars stories. But as a standalone film it is not very good. The pace is plodding, and the battle sequence at the end is too little too late to make up for the lack of earlier action. The characters are underdeveloped, even by Star Wars standards. On more than one occasion, I found myself whispering things like, “Why can’t Forest Whitaker breathe?” and “Who is the not-blind Asian guy?” Apparently a lot of my questions can be answered by someone who knows the entire Star Wars universe–books, animated series, etc.–and I had one of those someones on hand, but if you don’t you will be left to wonder.

Felicity Jones is excellent as flinty Jyn Erso, although I wish she had better lines to say. The dialogue is so earnest it hurts, with none of the humor the other films have to lighten the mood. And I completely disagree with the casting of her comrade-in-arms Cassian Andor. Not for a moment did I believe that sweet little Diego Luna was a hardened Rebel spy, and his accent made him difficult to understand at times. I was, however, wowed when certain iconic Star Wars characters appeared, looking as young as ever. You can always count on Lucasfilm for some excellent effects.

Bottom line: Rogue One only works if you are watching it as a companion to other Star Wars films. If you are just looking for Friday-night entertainment, watch Return of the Jedi again.

Located in DVDs (DVD STAR WARS)

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