FILM REVIEW | Rogue One A Star Wars Story

REVIEW | Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, and Ben Mendelsohn
Review by Mark David Major

(Film blurb begins) Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing down when the evil Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen becomes 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, Jyn joins forces with a spy and other resistance fighters to steal the space station’s plans for the Rebel Alliance. (Film blurb ends)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) easily ranks in the middle tier of ‘good’ Star Wars films along with The Force Awakens and Return of the Jedi. It falls short of the greatness that is The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope. Like Episode 7, it far outperforms the increasingly reviled prequels (Disney: make remakes of Episodes 1, 2, and 3 now, please). The 10-minute, pre-title sequence of Rogue One is simply stunning. The decision to show the “full destructive power” of the Death Star at a human scale is a brilliant decision. There are incredible visual effects throughout the film but, then, it is a Star Wars movie. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is stout in the lead role. The supporting actors surrounding her are actually quite good. Alan Tudyk (voicing the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO via motion capture) is a standout. The CGI of Peter Cushing (Gran Moff Tarkin) and (briefly) a 19-year old Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) is incredible, even astounding to behold (especially that of the long-decreased Cushing). The other Easter eggs are fun for fans. Ben Mendelsohn brings a kind of ‘bureaucratic malevolence’ based on the selfishness of career progression to the anatagnoist role of Director Orson Krennic. Darth Vader ‘sizzles’ in his two scenes, elevating the film to another level when he appears in the story.

I have two issues with Rogue One, which ends up being a millstone on the story, performances of Jones (especially) and others, and the climax of the film itself. This is the casting of Diego Luna in the male lead of Cassian Andor and the plot contrivances surrounding his character, especially during the middle portion of the film (basically, after Tarkin assumes command of the Death Star and before Jones utters the infamous “May the Force Be with You” leaving Yavin IV). Luna does not have the screen presence/charisma to succeed in this role and has ZERO chemistry with Jones. It is perplexing Kathleen Kennedy/Disney did not ‘Eric Stoltz-ed (see the story of Marty McFly/Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future) Luna and recast the role after the first rushes. Maybe the ‘Joey Tribbiani Rules of Acting and Leading Ladies’ came into play, I don’t know, to explain such a manifest lack of chemistry with strong actress like Jones. The writing of the Cassian character and Luna’s vacant performance holds this film back from achieving its ever-present hints of greatness, making it seem as if the tragic conclusion of Jyn Erso’s story is not entirely earned. Mark’s Grade: B+

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