Rogue One ReviewDecember 19, 2016
Warning: This post contains spoilers. Do not read if you haven't seen Rogue One!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made a spectacular debut last week in theaters across the world. Walking into my 7:40pm showing on December 15th, I had no idea what to expect. Sure, I had seen all of the trailers and TV spots that Disney had released over the past year, but I hadn't spent time speculating about who these Rebels were and what struggles they would encounter while capturing the plans to the Death Star. I thought Rogue One was near perfect so I really don't have too many negative things to say, but I wanted to break down what I loved about the film and the minor things I would change.
The Good: What I LovedStar Wars: Rebels References
There were plenty of Rebels Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie including several shots of the Ghost flying in the Battle of Scarif and parked on the Rebel base at Yavin 4. Chopper, my favorite sassy droid, can be spotted on the Rebel base when the communications officer runs to inform Mon Mothma about the group that went to Scarif. I think my favorite reference was when General Syndulla was summoned over the loudspeaker at the Rebel base. I love knowing that Hera was involved with the Battle of Scarif and even made it out alive. One of my favorite things about Star Wars is how the story group ties together the films with the television shows, books, and comics. These subtle references to Rebels might not be picked up by all viewers, but it means a lot to fans who will spot the quick cameos. It helps show that Star Wars is one universe and all the characters can cross over into different mediums as long as the story goes together.
Shadow Scout Cameo
As a girl who's been cosplaying as a shadow scout in the 501st Legion for almost three years, I was thrilled to see a new rendition of the shadow scout when Bodhi Rook was being captured and delivered to Saw Gerrera. I'm looking forward to modifying my costume after the Blu-ray version of Rogue One is released and I can take high quality screen caps of the outfit. This cameo won't mean much to all Star Wars fans, but I personally squealed when I saw such a familiar helmet in the background. Shadow scouts are no longer considered "canon" since the comics and books after Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm were deemed uncanon, so I'm glad shadow scouts have a legitimate history in Star Wars now.
Two words- Governor. Tarkin. I'd like to think that Peter Cushing was brought back to life for this role, but obviously I know that the people who work at ILM are visual effects wizards who made this concept a reality. Prior to the premiere, I was hoping to see Tarkin in Rogue One, but I had no idea they would actually show his face and he would look exactly like Peter Cushing. My jaw had to be lifted from the ground after staring at his face in disbelief for 10 minutes. I was absolutely astonished. With that being said, L-E-I-A. I'm thrilled she made an appearance too! While I would've been just as happy if her face hadn't been shown, I'm glad they did such an awesome job with the CGI rather than casting someone with a similar face and not perfectly matching Carrie Fisher's look.
I've seen tons of conflicting opinions from other fans about Tarkin and Leia saying that just because ILM could make these characters look realistic doesn't mean they should have been in the movie. I disagree. Not only was this a technically impressive feat, but I think it helps tie Rogue One together with the original trilogy.
If you had asked me a month ago what I thought of Darth Vader, I would've said, "Meh, I wish he wasn't going to be in Rogue One." My reasoning for this was that I wanted the movie to focus on the new characters including Jyn and Cassian rather than shine the spotlight on characters like Darth Vader that we've seen in multiple Star Wars films. However, I've never seen Vader in more of a truly horrifying form than what we saw in Rogue One. Everyone speaks of how utterly terrifying Vader is and how he's such a huge threat to the Rebels. Growing up watching Star Wars, I was never afraid of his character, but goodness, if I had seen this version of Vader as a child I would've had nightmares about him for weeks. He was relentless, unforgiving, and exuded a sense of unmatchable power, which are all qualities Vader possesses. Gareth Edwards perfectly captured his character and did Vader the utmost justice.
Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan
Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved the back and forth bickering between Luke Skywalker and Dr. Evazan in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It's my favorite scene out of any Star Wars movie and when I saw this legendary duo make a short appearance on Jedha, I actually teared up and laughed at the same time. It's the little things that impact me the most.
In addition to all of the things I mentioned above, Rogue One captured my heart because of the diverse range of characters fighting for the Rebel alliance. It was interesting to see a movie without Jedi and I particularly enjoyed how Chirrut Imwe felt such a strong connection with the Force even though he was not a Jedi. I also think racial diversity is important because Star Wars is universally loved across the globe by all sorts of people. When I was younger, I loved seeing characters that looked like me so I know how important it is for young fans to feel like they can relate to one of these rebels.
The Bad: What It LackedLyra Erso
Before I pick apart the reason why I didn't enjoy Jyn Erso's mom, I will note that I've heard Lyra is discussed in Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel. I realize that some of my issues with her character may be addressed in the book, but as far as the movie goes I felt she was a little cold-hearted to be the mother of such a precious daughter. I was surprised she didn't tell Jyn how much she loved her on screen, as she must have known they may never see each other again. I think mother/daughter relationships are very important to show in movies so I wish Rogue One had included a little more detail about the bond Lyra and Jyn shared in addition to Jyn's relationship with her father. The fact that Jyn watched her mother get murdered must have been tough, so I also wish they had shown how that affected Jyn in the future. With that being said, I understand why Lyra was a very minor character in the movie so it's not a huge deal to me, but this might push me into reading Catalyst to learn more about Lyra.
As much as I love that Lucasfilm made the decision to bring a character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars into a live-action film, I wasn't crazy about Saw Gerrera. I never got attached to him in The Clone Wars and I was hoping that Rogue One would make me like him more, but that wasn't the case. I disregarded him after finding out that he deserted Jyn in a bunker when she was sixteen. He will be returning in Star Wars: Rebels later this season so I'm hoping that we'll learn more about what thrusted him into the fighter we saw in Rogue One.
Overall, I have to say that I was extremely impressed by Rogue One. I really didn't expect to fall in love with this movie as much I did. Kudos to Gareth Edwards, Kathleen Kennedy, and every single person that was involved with the making of this crucial component of the Star Wars story. The success of this movie makes me even more excited for the Han Solo standalone in 2018!