I haven't written a full review of ROGUE ONE, and at this point I'm not likely to. For the most part, I enjoyed it, but my immediate reaction was that it didn't work for me the way THE FORCE AWAKENS did. Since last year, I've watched THE FORCE AWAKENS at least seven times and the film still works just as well for me as it did after my first viewing. In some ways I might find it more re-watchable than parts of the original trilogy, but beyond that, I can't think of too many films in the recent past that have made me WANT to rewatch it that many times without getting weary of it.
(And I can only blame one of those rewatches on the writing process of THE MAKING OF STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII. By the way, if you still haven't checked out that script that I wrote with Brian Michael Scully, you can find it here.)
I bring that up by way of mentioning that "not as good as THE FORCE AWAKENS" is far from a condemnation from me. I thought ROGUE ONE was solid entertainment, particularly once it got going. The early segments of the film drag as all the pieces come into place. What matters is that it finishes strong. From the point where the team assembles against orders to get the Death Star plans, everything seems to click into place, and we get another JEDI-esque finale with several battles advancing on different fronts.
Outside of Jyn, I felt disconnected from most of the characters, and that's where THE FORCE AWAKENS gains a lot of its edge over this film. Donnie Yen's Chirrut has some clever moments, and the novelty of a blind devotee of the Force taking down superior forces never gets old. Okay, and K-2SO was pretty awesome. The movie managed enough base hits and triples that I came away satisfied.
Of course, the Darth Vader scenes were the sort of moments fans have been hungering for for 30 years, particularly the hallway scene. But that also speaks to one of my bigger issues with the film in general. This is the first Star Wars feature film to venture outside the Saga Episodes, and the first place we go ends up being a very direct prequel to the original film. I have some concerns about these "Star Wars Stories" only going to the most obvious places in Star Wars history, and for further discussion of that, check out my piece "The Known Unknowns of Star Wars" at Film School Rejects.
While you're over there, click on over to my second ROGUE ONE story, "7 Films That Could Be Headlined by Creepy Dead CGI Actors." As you might infer, I felt that the use of VFX to resurrect Peter Cushing as Tarkin yielded somewhat mixed results. But if we get past the ethical issues, think of all the new performances we could enjoy!
Have a good holiday everyone, and if you get a chance, please buy my book, "MICHAEL F-ING BAY: The Unheralded Genius in Michael Bay's Films." It's a great last-minute stocking stuffer for the film geek in your life!
2 weeks ago