For nearly 40 years, the Star Wars movies have been the mainstream movie audience’s junk food of choice. They really have no value to them whatsoever, but they are comforting, addicting, and go down easily. Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back in this metaphor would be your favorite pizza from your favorite parlor with your favorite toppings while the prequels would be the crap which has been sitting all day on the 7-11 rotisserie thing behind the counter. Rogue One is most definitely a Star Wars film in the same vein, and I’d call it chicken nuggets if I continue forcing the metaphor – don’t look too closely at what it is and how it was made and you can really enjoy it, but it really shows a lot of crap upon any close inspection.
First, let’s talk about the characters. We have a cast of thinly developed and routinely acted characters led by Felicity Jones as our hero Jyn Erso and a particularly bland and unmemorable performance from Diego Luna as Cassian Endor. From the supporting cast, we have a collection that are a bit more memorable than our protagonists, but moreso because of odd character traits than actual developed personality. The only really fantastic and developed of the film’s cast is Alan Tudyk as the voice of reprogrammed Imperial Droid K-2SO who shows once again that he is one of Hollywood’s most underrated and unfortunately overlooked performers. For an actor who never once shows his face on screen in this film, he still manages to steal every single scene he shows up in.
The screenplay, too, is as thin as Rogue One‘s characters, serving only to set up action sequences. Characters run into each other by chance then decide to never leave each others’ company for no explainable reason. People who met ten minutes prior are suddenly close friends and treat each other as they would someone who has spent years earning their respect and trust simply because the plot needs them to and the writers were too lazy to find any other way of doing things. None of the events in the film happen because of any realistic set of motivations or actions on the part of the characters, but obviously take place because the movie needed to start in one place, arrive in another predetermined place, and the writers give us the simplest, black and white, connect the dots means of doing so.
Yet, despite all this, Rogue One is often a whole lot of fun. The centerpiece of any Star Wars story for the last 30 years has been action sequences mixed in with a heaping helping of fan service and nostalgia, and these are delivered creatively and spectacularly. This is the closest thing we’ve had yet to a Star Wars war film, ironically, and seeing set pieces which mix up Stormtroopers fighting rebels while X-Wings and Tie Fighter lend air support battling straight overhead and AT-AT Walkers towering over the battle adding yet another element to the battle makes us realize we’ve never really seen something like this before in Star Wars films which are generally far more streamlined in its action sequences and never show that anyone is capable of thinking in a tactical manner in this world.
No one expects anything more than fluff entertainment from a Star Wars film, and when taking just the special effects and action into account, Rogue One delivers on that fluff entertainment in the best way possible, with these sequences being some of the best we’ve ever seen in the Star Wars Universe. However, the characters and script are more shallow than is even usual for Star Wars. Back story, motivation, and logic not only take a back seat to the visuals, but are practically non-existent. Rogue One will almost certainly entertain most people except for the most die hard anti-Star Wars crowd, and it has ample amounts of creativity in its action, but it is incredibly shallow leaving you wishing there had been more to it when all is said and done.
Rating: 5.8 out of 10