On New Years Eve 2015, having a meal with my in-laws, we were counting down the days until birthdays, the following Christmas and other fun stuff. I worked it out, there was 351 days until the next Star Wars film, which of course was ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’.
From the announcement, Rogue One promised to be something different, not your typical Star Wars film. Some said it would be ‘Band of Brothers in space’ and I don’t think anyone knew what to expect.
Then the teaser trailer announcement teaser (seriously, trailers for trailers now?) was released showing a Death Trooper in front of something burning. Wow! The next day the first teaser trailer came out and everything about it popped. Yavin Base. Mon Mothma. New AT-AT’s. Something about it just felt right.
Then we got Star Wars Celebration Europe and the big Rogue One panel and the costume collection on show with props and models as well as the Behind the Scenes reel and then a month or so later a second trailer which looked even better than the first. The the third trailer hit and the merchandise (got the Lego U-Wing on release day).
By the time the film came out I was in absolute awe. The whole thing just felt right. I wasn’t nervous like I had felt before watching The Force Awakens for the first time, I was buzzing.
People complained at how different it was, with no opening crawl and the title showing up after the first sequence. It really doesn’t bother me, it’s meant to be different.
The story is fairly basic in terms of story-beats. Galen was obviously going to die and have that last moment with Jyn. The Rebel Fleet were always going to arrive at Scariff to help the crew and at the end the film would be wrapped up with a nice big Death Star superweapon blast of a bow because as the overall story moves straight into ‘A New Hope’ the jigsaw pieces need to fit properly, and they do.
In terms of the main characters I can’t fault any of them, they are all driven by something, Jyn wants to do the job and go free, until her father dies and then the fight is personal. Cassian wants to do his job despite his conflict with what it entails sometimes and wants to do good. Chirrut feels that the Force is driving him and Baze is his friend and protector. Bodhi is an Imperial defector and is the inside man who can get them where they are going and K-2SO is there because Cassian says he has to be. Even Krennic’s motivations are solid, making him a great villain who just wants the recognition he deserves even as his project is taken away from him.
This was also the first film to “legitimise” the animated series by adding Saw Gerrera from the Onderon arc from Season 5 of ‘The Clone Wars’ to the roster of characters, albeit in a small but pivotal role within the film.
Despite the shoehorned cameos of Doctor Evazahn and Ponda Baba on Jedha and Threepio and Artoo on Yavin the returning characters are well used. Mon Mothma and Bail Organa work well in their scenes with the Alliance leadership, the Gold and Red Leader cameos (despite being unused footage) were brilliant and very welcome and Vader’s two scenes managed to steal the show (that corridor scene!!!) but the most shocking returning character was Grand Moff Tarkin, recreated using a CGI mask over actor Guy Henry’s performance was brilliant. Jarring at first but once you got used to it, it works. How could you have the Death Star and not show Tarkin?
I saw it three times in 48 hours, twice on opening day and then again the following evening after my work Christmas meal. After that I had to wait until it came out for home release. I got the 3D Blu-Ray and watched it in 3D that night. Loved the film but was let down by the 3D conversation. My wife has watched half of it and still means to watch the rest but hasn’t got around to it yet. I keep trying to bug her to do it but it’s just not happened yet.
Is it my favourite? No. Do I enjoy it? Extremely. But I find that I have to be in the right mood for it. I watched it when I did a rewatch of the whole saga before The Last Jedi and really struggled with it, because it wasn’t part of the main story, so my advice, skip it when watching the Episodic films as it does feel out of place, yet when watched back-to-back with A New Hope it resonates with me so much that their sacrifice leads to Luke destroying the Death Star.
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