Length: 133 minutes / 2.22 hours
Years ago, when Disney acquired Lucasfilm, I had worried that they would ruin one of the most beloved sci-fi franchises ever to grace the big screen. That being said, Lucasfilm’s prequel trilogy showed us all how it could happen. Around the same time, I started to notice the quality of Disney’s animated fare was drastically improving, even outpacing Pixar. The proof to finally win me over was the way they have expertly handled the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With all this in mind, I was curious how this side-story to the main Star Wars saga would play out.
First off, anyone worth their salt in nerd-cred knows that the original Star Wars is based off samurai films. Gareth Edwards (who directed the Godzilla (2014) reboot) certainly made this influence obvious in Rouge One, especially in the opening sequence and with the inclusion of a Zatoichi-like blind swordsman. At this point, all he needed was to add in the “war” to Star Wars, and suddenly we have a gritty plot that ends exactly how those who have seen A New Hope (1977) expect it to. In fact, there were moments where these scenes could have been the beaches of Normandy or the jungles of Vietnam, it was so easy to see the references.
While I found many of the characters to be somewhat one-dimensional (since their main objectives were either survival, duty or revenge), I did appreciate the scene-stealing K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk) to lighten the otherwise oppressive mood of the plot. Visually speaking, the battle sequences (especially in space) were phenomenal, and the first firing of the Death Star was a fantastic scene embedded in my memory for its sheer awesomeness. Even so, the CGI Governor Tarkin was still on the edge of the uncanny valley, even if it was on the more realistic side.
A film that successfully answered some questions from the original Star Wars, I give Rouge One 3.5 stars out of 5.