Hey everybody! As promised, here is my review for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. After several conversations post-movie, on the drive home, at home, etc., I feel like I’ve had time to bring my thoughts together to into a review for all of you. I’m going to be keeping this absolutely spoiler-free as well, so read on without fear! I mean, if you want to go into this film completely blind, then maybe skip this for now (I understand, I try not to watch reviews for movies I want to see in theaters, especially if I’m going to review them). For those of you carrying on, let’s get right to it.
First off, let’s talk a bit about the story. Without going into any detail, I’m sure hearing the words Star Wars and prequel story together made more than a few people nervous. I’m happy to say that there is no need for concern. This is not a prequel like the prequels. The things I didn’t like about those films I didn’t find here. This had the feel of Star Wars more than those films while at the same time being its own animal. The tone in this film is very different from the main ‘Skywalker Saga’. When we came out of the theater I turned to the other half and said, “The trailers made me say ‘wow, this looks like a war movie, I didn’t think they’d take me up on that!’”. And it’s true, there’s a much more grounded, serious tone to this one. While there is some humor interspersed in-between, this is not the light, straightforward, good-vs.-evil of Luke vs. Vader. There’s politics on both sides, there’s the good and bad of human nature in both sides, this feels like Star Wars but it feels like a reality we haven’t seen yet. In the Skywalker films where the Empire exists, it is ever-present but always distant (Tatooine) or sanitized (Cloud City). You never really see what it’s like to live under Empire occupation. In this, you get a better sense of that than any of the other movies. This isn’t like a ‘gritty reboot’, this is just stripping away the black-and-white idealism of the others and showing how reality is a lot more grey.
So, in conclusion, what can I say I haven’t said already? This was a very different Star Wars movie, and I don’t say that as a bad thing. If they want to make offshoot films in the universe, it’s such a relief to see they aren’t afraid to make them stand alone, to not have to follow the Star Wars formula slavishly. If this is how this Expanded Universe is going to be, bring on more!