As a prequel to perhaps one of the most well known franchises in film history, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story shuttles between great plot development and clumsy storytelling. As the world awaits Rian Johnson’s next instalment, the weight of this intergalactic epic falls onto Gareth Edwards to try and bait devoted fans and moviegoers alike. While Edwards does put in an earnest amount of dedication to doing the Star Wars saga and its fans justice, the fruit still feels muddled for most of the journey.
The story follows a motley crew of rebels as they try to help the Resistance take down the Death Star, and the Empire along with it. It expounds on the plot holes that arise in A New Hope, and tries to tell a new story out of the limitations that its 1977 ‘sequel’ restricts it to. That’s part of the problem. Too often, the writing feels like it’s so caught up in making sure it links up to A New Hope and addressing critical points that the rest of the plot and its characters feel underdeveloped, and even a little shallow. At 133 minutes, you walk away questioning the necessity of certain characters, and if the omission of some sequences may have helped the film’s pacing.
Felicity Jones and Diego Luna lead a cast of A-list talents with enough affability and conviction (and we are loving the message of female empowerment – certainly the new direction that Disney has promised viewers), and leave it to Alan Tudyk to deliver great comedic punch lines as the droid K-2SO. The Internet’s new boyfriend, Riz Ahmed, brings his charm to the big screen, and audiences will be thrilled to learn that the visual effects team has done the late Peter Cushing a great service by reviving him through the marvels of modern-day rendering. Even Forest Whitaker, whose character is key but brief, delivers a performance so outlandish that it’s believable. But their chemistry as a cast is what makes the viewing frustrating at times; it feels as though all the elements are there to make it an amazing viewing experience, but no one’s quite figured out how it should come together.
With all that said, once the film hit its stride in the third act – after having to go through a few too many speeches and Ben Mendelsohn’s comically cringey screen moments – things finally start to pick up and come together. Finally, you feel like this is the type of Star Wars film that we know and want it to be, ultimately pleasing fans and regular moviegoers alike.
Is Rogue One a movie worth watching? Despite its shakiness and uncertainties, it’s a just-about-decent attempt at joining the Star Wars dialogue.