“Rogue One” is a well-shot movie which has its place in a binge of the “Star Wars” franchise, but personally I wouldn’t choose to watch it again. As someone who was never really bit by the “Star Wars” bug I found it hard to fall in love with this movie. To me it felt like this film was aimed at the existing audience rather than general moviegoers despite the fact that it was promoted as a new story, and without a pre-existing affection for the series I found the subpar acting extremely hard to swallow. The fact that the story makes sense of plot holes from the original trilogy does improve the movie as a whole because it makes it feel worthwhile, but it doesn’t hide the fact that “Rogue One” only exists to keep the merchandise bandwagon rolling until Episode VIII comes out.
My biggest gripe with this film is that almost everyone watching knows that the characters are going to succeed in their efforts to steal the plans for the Death Star. Of course, knowing how a story is going to finish doesn’t necessarily devalue that story as a whole, but it did mean that I struggled to become immersed in the experience on this occasion.
Without the pull of top quality acting or an unclear conclusion I was consumed by a feeling of indifference, and I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters despite the fact that the stakes were admittedly high. These factors led to my complete lack of interest in anything that was happening on screen, and ultimately made the film feel hollow and pointless from my perspective.
I’d have much preferred a story which was set within the “Star Wars” universe but was also disconnected from the original trilogy, the prequels, or the new ongoing trilogy, as this would’ve meant that I could judge the characters based on their personalities rather than in virtue of their importance to stories that I’ve already seen play out. A film of this ilk would’ve given me something fresh to enjoy, rather than providing me with the same experience I’ve already had except with worse acting and a less interesting story.
This last point is contentious because for many the fact that this film is able to make sense of the Death Star’s fundamental structural flaw is enough to make its story both necessary and compelling. However, if we’re being cynical then it seems obvious that resolving problems within the overarching narrative is a convenient excuse to cash in on a franchise which carries serious name value. I admit that this excuse is a clever one, but the series would’ve thrived without any alterations.
Moreover, this film’s ability to tie things together from the original series doesn’t actually make it a better standalone film; in fact, part of me wonders if the writing was made easier by how clear the ending must have been from the moment the idea was pitched, after all, the majority of the characters in this film mysteriously don’t appear in the original trilogy!
The only real work “Rogue One” had to do was to explain why the Death Star was fatally flawed because we already know how the plans for the Death Star were passed on. People have lived without that information for decades, so it seems ludicrous to suggest that we needed this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that “Rogue One” is terrible in any way, shape, or form. There’s plenty to like about it such as well-choreographed action sequences, entertaining cameos, and impressive visuals, but it could’ve been a lot better.
Overall, I think that “Rogue One” is an average film masquerading as a masterpiece. Take away the cameos and the fan service and you’re left with a paint-by-numbers movie with a direct-to-DVD cast. It works fine as a stop gap to whet the appetite prior to Episode VIII’s release, but it isn’t a great film in its own right.