FlixChatter Review – ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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I don’t call myself a Star Wars groupie and honestly I was rather lukewarm about The Force Awakens. At the same time I didn’t hate the prequels trilogy (episode 1-3) though I have to admit there were tons of problems. But the more I hear about Rogue One and that amazing international cast, the more I look forward to it. Well, if only all prequels were as good as this one.

The story is set before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) which as you might recall opens with Princess Leia aboard her starship with the stolen plans to restore freedom to the galaxy, as she’s being pursued by the evil Empire. The fact that George Lucas never explained just how Leia got those stolen plans lends itself to a great spinoff/prequel and in many ways it’s as intriguing a story as the origin of Darth Vader. At the center of the Rebel Alliance is a young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), shown as a little girl sent to flee by her scientist father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) as he’s about to be captured by the Empire and finish the work he’s started, that is creating the Death Star.

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The rest of the film is quite action-packed, as Jyn tries to break free from the rebels in a rescue mission. I love the first introduction of her with K-2SO (voiced by the brilliant Alan Tudyk), the droid is definitely a lively character and he’s even more memorable than BB8 with his dry wit. The rest of the rebel group is made up of an awesomely-diverse international cast: Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, Donnie Yen as blind warrior Chirrut Imwe and Wen Jiang as Imwe’s loyal friend Baze Malbus. I don’t even mind there’s no Jedi in this movie. I gotta say Donnie Yen is my fave of the bunch, he’s got the most memorable intro with his martial arts skills, but he’s also got some funny one liners! Who knew he’d be the comic relief of the movie along with Tudyk’s K-2SO.

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Because the plot revolves around a single crucial mission to retrieve the Death Star plans, the story is pretty easy to follow. All the action punctuates the story but never overwhelms it. It’s definitely more of a gritty war action film that offers plenty of dynamic battle sequences, both on air and on the ground. There’s less philosophical dialog nor extensive dramatic scenes, but that doesn’t mean the film lacks substance. At the core of the struggle is always Jyn trying to fulfills her father’s mission… “Save the Rebellion and Save the Dream.” And what a struggle it was. The third act centers on the Rogue One team infiltrating Empires headquarters in Scarif, and it’s a real team effort in order to get Jyn to steal the plans. As if that wasn’t tough enough, retrieving the plans is half the battle, there’s the virtually impossible task of actually transporting the data to the Rebel Alliance!


Director Gareth Edwards did a pretty good job directing this (much better than his last blockbuster effort Godzilla in 2014) and he stages the action pieces nicely. The scene inside the control room where the plans are kept are stunningly-shot. It was certainly a well-staged scene that gives me quite an adrenaline rush, whilst K2SO provides the hilarious bits whilst fighting off the stormtroopers. I never felt dizzy or bored watching the battle sequences and there are plenty of suspense throughout. The script by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy has a good mix of action, drama and humor, with some emotional moments that never resort to melodrama. I really think the movie benefits from a strong ensemble cast with a capable female lead at the center. I’ve been a fan of Felicity Jones in her dramatic performances (Like Crazy, Breathe In, The Theory of Everything), but it’s nice to see her kick some butt here whilst always keeping her character grounded. She never became some action heroine or anything, which would’ve been silly.

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As for the supporting cast, every member of the Rogue One team is solid. They fight valiantly and the theme of sacrifice and hope give the story emotional gravitas. I feel a bit underwhelmed by Ben Mendelsohn as a high ranking Imperial senator though he looks sinister enough in his caped uniform. But his meeting with the big boss is definitely a memorable scene. Star Wars fans might’ve exploded in geekgasm the moment Vader showed up… then THAT voice came out of him, whoa! Who could top James Earl Jones‘ voice… it was glorious! There’s also memorable Vader scene wielding his lightsaber that made even me want to get up and cheer. Yes we’re not supposed to root for the bad guy, but man!!!

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[Spoiler alert – highlight to read] My biggest beef is the final scene with horrible CGI-ed face of Princess Leia! It’s so distracting and kind of lessens the impact of that powerful scene. Heh, the X-Men films have done a good job making Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen look half their age, so you’d think with a $200mil budget they could afford to do a better job. They could even opt for doing just a silhouette of her whilst she said the line, that’d surely make it more memorable than showing a bad CGI. Peter Cushing is also back as a CGI character as Grand Moff Tarkin, 

Despite my quibbles, it’s still a pretty darn good movie. The cinematography by Greig Fraser is quite beautiful (he’s also the DP for the gorgeous film LION), complemented by the rousing score by Michael Giacchino. I love that every time Vader showed up the iconic John Williams’ theme song came on! I really enjoyed this one and would definitely watch this again on IMAX. I might even follow up with episode 4, 5 and 6 now that the story suddenly feels fresh again.

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So, what do you think of ROGUE ONE? Let’s hear it!

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40 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story (2016)

    1. Hi Cindy! I was looking forward to it more than Force Awakens as I really like the cast, and I ended up liking the movie a lot! Well we were in frigid temps this weekend (it was -20 when I got out of the car and felt like 33 below F!!!) but this weekend will feel balmy with 20 degrees ABOVE zero!

        1. It’s really ridiculous to be outside where it’s colder than your freezer! I had brunch w/ an actress/tv host who’ll be my leading lady at my reading so at least it was well worth the trip.

            1. Ahah, well that’s the dream Cindy. I’m still striving to that end every day 😉 I don’t know if I’ll blog about that, but I can tell you in an email.

  1. Glad to read you liked it. Saw it last week and really had fun with it as well, the robot was really funny (the line about him being able to live in space) and it was a solid film. Have put up my own review recently.

  2. There’s one scene that made me want toscream, “It’s alive….” I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Grand Moff Tarkin.. they revived Peter Cushin who died in 1994.. as the “it’s alive” joke, well he is after all the clasic Victor Frankenstein..

  3. Didn’t read your spoilers, because I haven’t seen this one yet, but great review! Initially, I wasn’t very pumped about this movie. Then the reviews came pouring in with such high praise, and now I’m totally amped up to see this!!

    1. Hi Courtney! I had read a couple of reviews of Passengers with a ton of spoilers, I feel like a lot of paid critics have no clue about being careful w/ them, so irritating. I actually went in with neutral expectations as I don’t always agree w/ critics (i.e. agreed w/ you La La Land was overblown), but I had fun w/ this one. Not perfect but still massively entertaining.

  4. Howdy Ruth! Looks like our scores are pretty close. I think I like it even a touch better than you. I was really impressed with how this turned out. I was expecting to like it but with reservations. It turned out even better than I expected. I actually really liked Edwards’ Godzilla and I think he follows it up with a better movie here. And I didn’t have a big problem with that final shot. Sure, the CGI is obvious, but for me the payoff was great. I’m planning on seeing it again next week but with my kids! That will add an even bigger dose of fun! 😀

    1. I could probably give this a 4.5 now that I think about it. Force Awakens is more of a 3.5/5 for me, but this was more enjoyable overall. I just LOVE the International cast, if only more films were THIS diverse. The CGI is way too distracting for me on Leia, she looks like some doll! Regardless, I’m planning on seeing it again too, next time on IMAX! 🙂

    1. Hi Brittani! I didn’t mind Tarkin but maybe because to me, a casual SW fan, he’s not as iconic as Leia so her botched CGI is even more egregious!

  5. Nice job reviewing this, Ruth. You touched on many of the points I myself raised in your review (although with regards to your “spoiler” paragraph, I had more trouble with the former character than the latter, who is on screen for far longer) and I hold out hope that the film will become as highly regarded as the OT films in decades to come. It certainly fits well into the established aesthetic by the end.

    1. Hello Rodney! The CGI thing is interesting, as some people seem to be more bothered by Tarkin than Leia. Yes he’s on screen longer but his face seems less doll-like than Leia who doesn’t look human at all. I’m curious how this film will be viewed years to come, but for me I think it stands as one of the best prequels ever.

  6. Great review Ruth, glad to hear you had a good time with Rogue One. You’re comments about the diversity of the cast is right on (in hindsight I should’ve taken time to mention that in my review). I agree that K-2 was a standout and the control room scene was great, very Mission: Impossible-y!

    1. Hey Chris! The diverse cast is definitely a major plus and they’re all great. Very true about the MI vibe on those control room scene, it was beautifully-shot and staged!

  7. I am glad you enjoyed it so much Ruth. You are right about hearing James Earl Jones, that was exciting for any SW fan. I just looked it up, and hes 85! And still rocking it.

  8. I actually really loved that ending moment I think it was necessary and they couldn’t just do a silhouette, it wouldn’t be enough. The movie was bleak as hell and we needed to SEE hope that we know from later films…well not really HOPE because Disney made episode 7 and we can no longer pretend evil is defeated and Leia and Han live happily :/ Dammit, Disney.

    1. Hi Margaret! You may be right that perhaps just a silhouette isn’t enough but if they chose to show the entire face, they ought to make it right. That CGI was so bad as she didn’t even look human! Yeah, I guess no happily ever after from Han and Leia, even before their son killed Han they’re already living separate lives 😦

  9. I really enjoyed it; more than I thought I would to be honest. It’s basically a fan film but it’s dove with such love, attention and gung ho spirit that I was happy to be taken for the ride. Happy Christmas by the way!

    1. Hey Mark! I was pleasantly surprised as well w/ this one as to be honest I wasn’t even anticipating it, at least not as much as I was w/ other films. But I did grow more excited because of the diverse cast and they delivered big time!

      Merry Christmas to you too, my friend!

  10. Just saw it earlier tonight and read your review, I pretty much agree with you. Although the last scene with Leia digital face didn’t bother me at all, in fact I thought it looked pretty good and I saw it on the giant IMAX screen. As Rodney mentioned above, I was a bit more distracted by Peter Cushing’s digital face than Carrie Fisher’s. It’s really sad though that I just saw the film on the day Fisher passed away.

    I’ll have to see it again at the Atmos theater but it’s definitely the kind of Star Wars film I wanted to see after the terrible prequels. I enjoyed The Force Awakens but this one is a much better film because it took risks.

    1. Hello Ted! Glad you saw this on IMAX, it must look awesome! I might see this before year’s end, though we also want to see SING as we missed the press screening. Yeah, such a bummer that Carrie Fisher is gone. I guess I wasn’t as distracted by Peter Cushing as I barely remember the original trilogy, whilst Princess Leia is so iconic and I had just seen Carrie in person at Wizard World this Summer.

      I definitely enjoyed this more than Force Awakens where there’s quite a lot of unintentional humor in regards to Kylo, ahah. This one feels like a proper war film and the jokes were actually funny.

  11. Pingback: Bye bye 2016! End of year recap & musings on favorite films we saw this year

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