Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

Director: Gareth Edwards

Genres(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science-Fiction

Runtime: 133 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

IMDb Page

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars spinoff film of the Disney era. In a story that takes place moments before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), the Rebel Alliance discovers that the Galactic Empire is secretly building a space station, known as the Death Star, capable of destroying a planet. Can our intrepid band of freedom fighters find a weakness in the new weapon of mass destruction before it’s too late? Upon its release, many a reviewer said that this movie “put the ‘Wars’ in ‘Star Wars.'” They were certainly right.

Rogue One feels closer to being a war picture than any of the previous flicks in the franchise. The grade-A action sequences are simultaneously spectacular and gritty, with lots of vehicles, weapons, and uniforms from everybody’s favorite galaxy far, far away being on display. Some have decried the amount of “fan service” found in the military hardware found here, but, considering that it takes place minutes before the original trilogy, I don’t think it’s an issue. The highlight of the various engagements shown in the film is the extended action finale, which might actually serve up too much combat for viewers who aren’t action-adventure buffs.

Largely reliant on new characters, the movie succeeds here by offering many compelling ones. The special effects are impressive and the musical score by Michael Giacchino has that classic John Williams-style bombast. My first impression of the music was that it seemed a bit restrained, but I’ve warmed up to it since then. Visually, the motion picture is fairly dour at times, but this is appropriate, given the tone. It’s a vivid portrait of life in the Star Wars galaxy when the Galactic Empire was at its strongest.

Rogue One is a stellar Star Wars picture with high stakes and a ballsy ending. Yes, the opening act or so throws a lot at the audience (perhaps too much for people who aren’t fans of the series already), but it really feels like it was crafted by filmmakers who understand Star Wars. It may be set in a galaxy far, far away, but this story of heroic, war-time sacrifice still has plenty of resonance.

My rating is 10 outta 10.

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