Rogue One: 3 Stars.
As any good author knows; you have to put some climactic moments into your story to keep the reader either enthralled, or, at least, left with a strong impression: that an otherwise boring story was redeemably good.
In short, that’s what happened with Star Wars Rogue One. The last 5 minutes redeemed the entirety of the movie that preceded it. And oh what a climatic scene it was.
Having said this, the special effects and the performance of Australia’s own Ben Mendelsohn as empire Commander Krennic was well worth the price of admission.
After seeing this movie, my reluctant fear with the lucrative Star Wars Franchise is it could easily go off the rails.
What do I mean?
Well, let me take you by the wrist and back through the mists of time; to see the birdseye view of the eight instalments of Star Wars.
1) Star Wars: A New Hope was the first movie- but two decades later, was relegated to Episode 4. After George Lucas had a surge of make-a-comeback adrenaline and added three more Star Wars movie additions that were termed Prequels. These three movies focused mainly on the development of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader. Next we had (two decades earlier):
2) The Empire Strikes Back. (V Episode); then the
3) Return of the Jedi (VI Episode); and
4) The 4th but really the 1st Star Wars Episode known as: The Phantom Menace. Next we had
5) Attack of the Clones (Episode II); and
6) Revenge of the Sith (Episode III).
7) The Force Awakens (Episode VII). That had a much older Princess (General) Leia. Han Solo and an ever youthful Chewbacca, R2D2 and C3PO. Which brings us back to
8) Rogue One: that has a group of people- one with Father issues (a common theme in this franchise), on a Rebel-led and likely suicide mission, to steal the architectural blueprint plans for the Death Star; to identify an inbuilt flaw in the system. Yeah, I know, sounds riveting right? Especially since we know the fate of the Death Star. But seriously, there is a New Hope (pun intended).
As next year we get back on track because Star Wars Episode VIII will be released. And in 2019 we will see Star Wars Episode IX.
Admittedly, The First Star Wars, released in 1977, had a few issues that needed to be later ‘fixed up’ e.g. like, Ben Kenobi telling Luke that his father was ‘killed’ by Darth Vader. This must have been a metaphor, for we later learned, when Darth Vader held his hand out to a one-handed Luke and made the shocking revelation: he was really his father.
Also, in the same episode, we saw Luke receiving an intimate kiss from Princess Leia, that seemed like romantic potential for the movie, right before he made the daring swing to safety (we later learned her Highness is really his twin sister) . But now, it seems, this moment was really a kiss for good luck.
Now, here’s my point. the last scene of last year’s Force Awakens had a much older Luke Skywalker living as a hermit. And, seemingly, on the verge of a resurgent call to action to help the cause or, fight side-by-side again with his old friends and comrades.
Now, fast forward back to today with Rogue One, if you thought (like most of us) you’d see Luke leaping back into action and waving his buzzing light sabre; you’d be mistaken. He’s a complete no-show in this movie. In fact, the story goes back in time as a sequel to the later prequels but before Episode 4 A New Hope. The producers say this is a stand alone movie (an associated story not a follow-on linear narrative from the last movie of Force Awakens).
(Pause for Breathe)
See, this disconnected to-ing and fro-ing, has the potential to test the comprehensive patience of even the most loyal Star Wars fan.
Maybe, with the later episodes the Force will work some miracles and get this iconic good-versus-evil galactic story back on track.
My Verdict: Worth it for the special effects and the last scenes: 3 Stars.
Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher- Thank you for the memories the performances and the books. Although you will be sadly missed; we celebrate your life. You brought the world much joy and inspiration – your performance as a strong leader (not a damsel in distress) in a 1977 movie, as Princess Leia, was a pivotal moment in movie history and still a joy to watch. Also, your tireless work in highlighting the awareness of mental health issues was inline with your trailblazing personality. We hope the Movie Studio honours your image and acts with integrity and ethically in the ongoing series of Star Wars.
Take Care & Cheers
Written by: Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy.
Directed by: Gareth Edwards