Rogue One Review (contains spoilers)

Star Wars Rogue One – a new type of Star Wars movie

(contains spoilers)

In this new era of regular Star Wars movies, my viewing of Rogue One was approached with mild caution and hope, there’s always hope.

When you are such a huge Star Wars fan, it’s almost impossible to accurately judge how good a new Star Wars movie is on the first viewing. We all remember the hype machine of 1999 when The Phantom Menace was released – the first Star Wars movie for 16 years. We all swore it was a good movie, we must have – most of us watched more then five times at the theater!

More recently The Force Awakens was also similarly hyped, although this time we were spared the three months of camping outside the theater – remember that?  Now the dust has settled on The Force Awakens, I think we can safely say it’s a competent if slightly derivative episode of the saga. I bring all this up, because the real test of time is years – not days or even months to judge one movie against the other.

So for me, Rogue One starts off slowly setting up the story.  It already feels a little different with no opening crawl and no John Williams music, both firsts in a Star Wars movie.

Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in Rogue One
Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in Rogue One

Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful life ends when the ambitious Imperial director Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a grown up Jyn joins forces with the rebels to steal the space station’s plans for the Rebel Alliance. 

Director Orson Krennic
Director Orson Krennic

Established rebel characters feature, such as Mon Mothma and General Dadonna, as well as a bunch of new heroes including Cassian Andor and reprogrammed Imperial droid K2SO to provide the sarcastic wise cracks.

Probably the main talking point of Rogue One, was bringing Peter Cushing back from the dead as character Grand Moff Tarkin thanks to recent breakthrough CGI technology. It really is a watershed moment and which makes your jaw drop the first time you see it!  The same trick is pulled at the movies conclusion with a brief scene of a young 1977 Princess Leia, to prove Tarkin wasn’t a fluke.

Vader also features in a couple of powerful scenes which adds gravitas to the Star Wars universe.

Building the Death Star against his will, Galen has intentionally left a weakness within the design, detailed in the Death Star plans stored at a data center on the Tropical planet of Scarif also the location of the Death Star’s construction.

Rogue One is a more serious Star Wars movie more suited to adults in the same vein as Empire Strikes Back or arguably Revenge of the Sith, it respectfully and nostalgically captures the same tone as A New Hope.  The second half of the movie which climaxes with the Battle of Scarif, is a lot more intense and keeps up the pace brilliantly until the end.

The standard of acting performances is top drawer for a Star Wars movie, and the action scenes are a hark back to the original movies. I particularly liked the scene where the rebel fleet turns up for battle at Scarif which reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Return Of The Jedi.

Battle of Scarif
Battle of Scarif

The movie ends just before the start of A New Hope, and this made me want to watch ANH when I got back home!

So, is Rogue One better than The Force Awakens and the Prequels?  Probably.

But is it as good as the original movies and how does it compare to them?  Only after a few years will we really know that, but Rogue One is surprisingly great and worth watching for any weathered Star Wars fan.