Rogue One review: introducing Disney’s most daring film in a decade

Courtesy of Lucasfilm

Be prepared for the most daring and experimental Disney film in a decade, because that, in short, sums up Rogue One.

While it has all the trappings of a typical Star Wars film, including a snappy droid, the line, “I have a bad feeling about this”, and of course, stormtroopers who can’t aim to save their lives (literally), it certainly strays from the well trodden path of typical Star Wars/Disney fare. From its gloomy politics to its explosive action, the film will keep you guessing right up to its conclusion.

If you’re not reading past this SPOILER ALERT, well, I’m giving the film 7.9/10.

So now that we’ve really begun, let’s get it straight: Rogue One is about revolutions, both in politics and in war. And it can be summed up in a sentence.

Rebellions are built on hope.

The film takes a pretty accurate stance on rebellions. For millennia, revolutions have been happening, and in Rogue One, Gareth Edwards asks this question: when revolutions happen, are the revolutionaries better than the evil they replace?

Well, his answer is Rogue One‘s Rebel Alliance. Bureaucratic, petty, ineffective, and, at some points, downright evil (i.e. when they order the assassination of Galen Erso), the Rebel Alliance really makes you question why people rebel if all they’re doing is putting another tyrant, another despot, and another bureaucrat on the throne.

Enter Jyn Erso, the protagonist. Suffice it to say that out of all the characters, she is the most, well, Disneyed. She’s optimistic in her morals, yet realistic with her treatment of human (or alien, whatever) character. Combined with her no-nonsense combat moves and eloquence, she is, well, the heroine that the Alliance had been “waiting” for. Until Leia, that is.

And she does her role well. She not only gives a rousing speech that rejuvenates the soldiers, she manages to ruffle the feathers of the establishment, with her actions eventually culminating with a unit of rebel troops agreeing to aid her and her small band in their attempt to steal the Death Star plans. And while I personally found this part a little annoying (I kind of found it unrealistic that the rebel troops would break rank to aid a stranger that their officers opposed because of one good speech), it was effective enough in carrying the plot. Just enough.

But where the show really shone was in its action scenes. They weren’t operatic, and they certainly were not duels. Rogue One, after all, is a war movie, and the show did not shy away from depicting just that. People die, no matter how much you’ve invested in them, and yes, they die unexpectedly. The show stood out for its ability to kill when needed, as opposed to shows that either killed senselessly or never killed a main character. And that made the plot stronger.

Overall, while Rogue One was a movie considering both politics and war, it’s a lot stronger while discussing war. Granted, they had several good scenes involving politics, but overall, I found that political story hard to follow and required background knowledge. The action scenes, on the other hand, were clear cut.

But the best parts were when they got both the action and the politics right, and they were working in tandem: that is, moments when the soldiers decided to put their political beliefs into actions and actually fight for what they believed in.

But that’s all I’m discussing for the story.

In terms of graphics, soundtrack, and all the other details related to that, well, Disney mastered those a long time ago, and this time was no different. The visual effects were state of the art.

But while Rogue One was certainly a breath of fresh air, part of the reason why I thought so was because it came from Disney, where my bar isn’t altogether high. I would certainly recommend Rogue One to others, its not something that blew me away. As in really away.

So, the verdict: edgy and daring, Rogue One certainly makes it to any list I have of best films of 2016, but it’s not so daring to make it much further past that. So you should watch it. And in case you missed my rating above, I gave it 7.9/10.

Just one last thing: if Rogue One is what Gareth Edwards made in the confines of Disney, I’m excited to see what he can do outside of them.

But that’ll have to wait.

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