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Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

My thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens are notorious amongst my friends, who think I gave it a hard time only to satisfy the hipster within me. This meant that during the run-up to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story they ignored my opinions on its trailers assuming that I would hate it as well, as if to prove a point.

Having watched the Rogue One trailers, I thought it looked interesting. Rebel Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has to find her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) who is busy designing the Death Star.

Ring, ring! This is Mads Mikkelsen phoning it in. I imagine his involvement in both this film and Doctor Strange is to get him back into public consciousness after having been in TV show Hannibal for three seasons.

Initially I thought that this was an intriguing father-daughter dynamic, however the voice of cynicism soon began to murmur: “hang about, isn’t that something we’ve seen in both the original trilogy and The Force Awakens?” To this I responded: “oh voice of cynicism I don’t enjoy disliking films, why must you curse me?” While this is an issue, the theme is explored so little that it hardly matters. The fact that her initial resentment of her father is barely mentioned is a more significant problem.

I have two major complaints about the film, the first being that it is incredibly dull. Like The Force Awakens it makes no effort to break new ground, resembling any disposable sci-fi blockbuster rather than feeling like a Star Wars film.

For those not in the know, along with a new trilogy of episodic films Disney are also making “Star Wars Anthology” films, with Rogue One being the first. These spin-off films are intended to make the wait between each episodic film easier. It baffles me that in a universe filled with space wizard ninjas we witness a film which is about a bunch of normal people.

There are stories worth exploring in this universe, the prequels opened up a plethora of lore that is worthy of its own film, be it the story of Darth Plagueis or even the characters of Mace Windu or Yoda. However, instead of these far more interesting characters we happen to be with a bunch of humans without powers. This seems just as ridiculous as a Matrix spin-off starring a security guard which lacks any kung-fu until the end when Neo cameos and beats him up.

The film features many unnecessary old characters, however they aren’t as forced into the plot as they are in Ghostbusters.

My second principal complaint isn’t actually to do with the film itself, but one that as a regular cinema goer I feel I must make. At a film rated 12A there were many children clearly younger than 12 in the cinema. This would not be a problem if these children learned to behave themselves. One child started rolling around on wheels inside her trainers, but to be truly honest this was more entertaining than the film itself.

A blind man who sees using the Force. More interesting than the rest of the cast, so why don’t we see more of his story instead?

The writing of the film in the first act is atrocious. Three planets are jumped between in a matter of moments and many characters are set up, with only a few of them getting much development. It also doesn’t allow us much time to understand Jyn and learn about why she acts as she does, which would allow us to sympathise with her struggles. The dialogue is at times completely daft, with the actors over-acting to compensate.

One problem with prequels is that we know the overall ending of the film, although the fates of specific characters are unknown. Therefore if a film can make me care for the characters tension should still be present! The problem here is that I can’t think of anyone in the film I care for, a shame as that could have made up for the lack of space wizard ninjas.

Two days after watching the film I could only name Jyn. This should tell you all you need to know about how endearing these characters are.

While I personally did not enjoy the film, the audience applauded at the end (note: they were mostly children). I have only witnessed this on two occasions and the first was when a friend and I were the only two people in the cinema. The only truly positive things in the film are the droid K-2SO, who is occasionally humorous, in addition to the cinematography and special effects which are mainly nice to look at. There is one prominent CGI character who looks like he is in an animated film, which drove me to distraction more than the children in the cinema did.

While the rating is the same given to The Force Awakens I can’t find the energy to despise this film as much, perhaps because I expected it. I cannot recommend this film, but if you have both time and brain cells to kill, why not give it a go?

★☆☆☆☆