Review: rogue one: a star wars story: ew review

By Peter Debruge. Chief Film Critic. No spoilers there, since earthlings first saw that glorious explosion nearly 40 years ago. There are no Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks-like characters here, thrown in just to appeal to pre-school-aged audiences. The plot is designed less like a flashy video game, and more like a down-and-dirty war movie think documentaries about the conflict in Syria, rather than stodgy World War II films.

By sheer coincidence, both movies feature Forest Whitaker in outrageous wig-and-costume combinations. While all of these eccentrically named Rebels fall within well-established character types, the ensemble is diverse enough that viewers will surely gravitate toward their own favorites. The film has a fair amount of boilerplate plot to get through before the mission itself can get underway, and apart from its elegantly stark prologue, feels eye-crossingly hard to follow for nearly its first hour, finally picking up once Jyn is ordered to locate her father.

Still, for this batch of characters none of whom have been so much as referenced in the subsequent episodesthe subsequent mission to steal the blueprints and beam them to the Rebels will be a Pyrrhic victory at best. Still, the sequences that met with the most raucous approval at the world premiere screening were those featuring actions or characters audiences recognized from earlier films a couple of whom are convincing computer-rendered performances, since the original actors have either died or aged too much to reprise their roles.

The answer is neither one nor the other, or a little of both. This is the rebellion as it is experienced in the trenches. Younger audiences will be bored, confused, or both. Home Film Reviews. Dec 13, am PT. See All. Popular on Variety. Executive producers: John Knoll, Jason D. Crew: Director: Gareth Edwards. Camera color, widescreen : Greg Fraser.

review: rogue one: a star wars story: ew review

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review: rogue one: a star wars story: ew review

Expand the sub menu Music. Expand the sub menu Awards.From such slender source material, the Rogue One writers four are credited spin a surprisingly solid tale in which the heroes and villains of yore are mediated by murky shades of grey.

Her answer? Having cut his teeth on the character-led sci-fi of MonstersEdwards allows Jyn ample time to find her feet. As renegade Empire pilot Bodhi Rook, British actor Riz Ahmed brings down-to-earth grit to these outer space adventures, while the Mexican Diego Luna digs deep into the messy compromises of war as rebel fighter Cassian Andor.

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As for Edwards, reports of extensive reshoots suggested that his vision may have been compromised, but the finished film shows none of the scars usually associated with production battles. On the contrary, Edwards appears to have elevated what could have been simply a cash-in into something that feels essential, even magical. It has the distinct smell of victory. Facebook Twitter Pinterest.

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Want to help? Support our nonprofit work. Skip to Content. Ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil, light and dark.

Also a nuanced message about how both sides can have immoral, unreasonable rules that people shouldn't blindly follow. Jyn's parents' story makes it clear that not everyone rebels in the same way. The importance of trust, friendship, courage, teamwork, loyalty, and doing the right thing are demonstrated again and again.

Jyn is brave, tough, and more capable than most of the men around her. Cassian is a courageous rebel fighter who makes difficult choices to disobey orders when necessary.

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A warrior monk is blind, but that doesn't keep him from being a superb fighter. This is the most diverse Star Wars cast to date, with rebel fighters from various cultures. Like other Star Wars films, this one follows a person in this case Jyn with an extraordinary ability to unite and fight for a cause.

The movie has a high body count that includes both major and minor characters.

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Not a lot of blood or gore, but many to-the-death battles and shoot-outs, and a couple of uses of the Death Star's "planet killer" force that causes mass destruction.

Quick glimpses of both dead stormtroopers and rebels, as well as dead civilians lying around. In one scene, a character narrowly saves a crying young child from certain death.

In another, a young girl sees one parent get killed and the other taken; she ends up hiding for her life in an underground hiding space. A character uses mind control to hurt someone. A character is tortured with a huge creature that invades his mind to see whether he's telling the truth. Two characters are obviously attracted to each other they stare at one another longingly and speak in close quarters ; they finally embrace in a climactic scene.

Set limits for violence and more with Plus. Although the Star Wars franchise is popular with fans of all agesthis installment gets quite violent somewhat more so than 's A Force Awakenswith scenes that make painfully clear the sacrifices and casualties necessary in a war against tyrannical evil.

There's a high body count, as well as violence that's both large-scale even the Death Star's early, limited attacks cause mass destruction and up close and personal. On the other hand, the cast is very diverse, and there are many admirable role models, particularly brave, tough, capable Jyn Erso Felicity Jones. And the movie's story repeatedly demonstrates the importance of trust, friendship, courage, teamwork, loyalty, and doing the right thing. Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus.

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Join now.Poldark actor Kyle Soller is also in final talks to come on board the Star Wars project, as Variety first reported. Skarsgard has been on a bit of a roll as of late. The series is from showrunner Stephen Schiff and writer and directed by Tony Gilroy, who also co-wrote the film version. There's also an Obi-Wan Kenobi prequel series in the works starring Ewan McGregor reprising his role as the Jedi master, and that production is likewise in the writing stage.

Next up on the Star Wars front is The Mandalorian season 2, which has wrapped and in post-production for a planned October debut.

review: rogue one: a star wars story: ew review

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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By Chancellor Agard. S4 E17 Recap. Riverdale recap: Hedwig brings out Riverdale's relationship drama.This film about a band of misfits stealing the plans to the first Death Star is that kind of work.

It culminates in a thunderous final act that weaves together the most impressive space battle in the series with a prolonged ground assault on an Imperial fortress in which casualties have both physical and emotional weight which is something " Star Wars " was never big on.

But it also bridges the fairy-tale despair of the prequels to the rah-rah idealism of the original trilogy, spackling decades-old logic holes as it goes along. Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy's script even retro-engineers an answer to the question of why the Galactic Empire would build a super-weapon that could be vaporized with a single well-placed shot.

But somehow these aren't enough to sink the movie, which manages to succeed as both super-nerdy fan service and the first entry since the original that will satisfy people who have never seen a "Star Wars" film. The movie's undisputed scene stealer, though, is K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyka reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid who can break Stormtroopers' necks with a flick of his fist but is as peevish and pouty as C-3PO and tends to blurt out the least reassuring thing at the worst possible moment.

When his human colleagues fret that they won't survive being ejected into space, he says,"I will. This one is more conventional, from its clockwork storytelling to its relentless, brutal postscript which I bet is where a lot of Disney's reshoot money went. But the film still has enough moments of beauty and terror to mark it as the work of an artist rather than a glorified craftsman.

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A Death Star "test" on a single city is more horrifying than any similar attack in the franchise because we see how the battle station's green rays tear up the land, creating tidal waves of earth: a cross between an earthquake and a tsunami.

The space battles make the odd physics of "Star Wars" seem as comprehensible as 18th century flotillas clashing in a bay near a port; there's even a combination tugboat-torpedo that can drill into the hulls of enemy starships and push them to one side.

Smaller, more intimate action scenes have a tactile sensibility as well. Rain, fire and wind have a fullness and weight rarely seen in CGI-heavy fantasies. When characters scamper up ladders or navigate wet, crumbling cliffs, you flinch, because Edwards makes you fear minor cuts and bruises as keenly as maiming and incineration. Darth Vader makes a couple of appearances—both chilling; and how grand it is to hear James Earl Jones' rumbling baritone once more—and there's a rubbery digital Grand Moff Tarkin puttering around the Death Star bridge as well I don't know if I should say he's played by Peter Cushing ; how to refer to a bunch of ones and zeroes badly imitating a dead man?

But the main heavy is a bureaucrat: Orson Krennic Ben MendelsohnDirector of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, which is a fancy way of saying "the guy who bosses around the scientists actually creating the Death Star.

But most of the film is conceived as a galaxy-spanning chess match in which individuals, groups and whole fleets either move themselves or are moved against their will. In observing these movements, "Rogue One" conjures a spiritual vibe that makes its action sequences feel like more than a collection of spectacular moments. Characters are constantly being asked to take physical or figurative leaps of faith, whether they're jumping from one side of a metal abyss to another or deciding to believe a character that says he's on their side but might be a spy.

His pal Baze mocks him, but never too harshly, because he envies the blind monk's devotion to higher powers that he literally cannot see. Some overly familiar character motifs get a workout as well, including the cynical antihero's secret desire to join a crusade and the wounded child's wish to redeem a corrupt or neglectful parent. The latter aren't foregrounded in a self-conscious way, as they were in " Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens ," a movie that transferred its anxiety about rebooting a year old franchise onto new characters who were all obsessed with outdoing the icons that preceded them or fixing their mistakes.

The "Rogue One" characters' personal issues take a backseat to the mission, which happens at such a grim point in the galaxy's history that, to paraphrase " Casablanca ," the problems of any one being don't amount to a hill of beans.

That sounds like a wise strategy, and in some ways it is. But it also ensures that "Rogue One" fails to define its liveliest characters in ways that would make them pop. This is one area in which "The Force Awakens" is a better movie. Even when J. Abrams' plotting in "The Force Awakens" was haphazard, or too blatantly leaning on recycling or nostalgia, Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren were written and acted with such affection and wit that they seemed like worthy, or at least promising, additions to the series' overstuffed pantheon of characters.

And the two most important members of the group, Jyn and Cassian, are the least defined, which means that their emotional peaks near the end of the tale are merely affecting when they ought to be deeply moving.Every character, every planet, every plot point and technical spec seems to have been considered. There are no unanswerable questions, just untold tales — and unmade movies. Rogue One: A Star Wars Storythe first stand-alone chapter in the franchise, tells one of those untold tales.

But the thing about that movie was, the more you studied and dissected and parsed it, the more questions it raised. One of the biggest was: How did Princess Leia come to possess the plans to the Death Star that she hides in R2-D2 at the beginning of that film? Where did they come from? How were they obtained?

Were they stolen or turned over by a traitor? Granted, these may not be the questions that keep a lot of us up at night. But thankfully, they do keep up people like Gareth Edwards. Because that one tiny missing puzzle piece is the entire narrative for Rogue One. This is a whole new stable of characters operating on the fringes of the world we know by heart. And it opens up a world of cinematic possibilities moving forward. As in The Force Awakensour hero this time out is a strong young woman searching for answers.

When Rogue One opens, the Death Star is just a rumor — a game-changing what-if that has the Rebels terrified. There are a lot of new characters in Rogue One to keep track of. But there are also a few surprisingly familiar faces, including one who, it must be said, is a not-realistic-enough CGI creation that simply does not work. Oh, and a certain Sith Lord makes an appearance. The presence of Darth Vader in Rogue One was never a secret. Maybe because with so many new characters and in a stand-alone non-saga movie, they needed some star power.

And the heavy-breathing baddie gets a few big scenes to sink his teeth into including a Force Choke and a pun that frankly seems more Roger Moore-era Bond than Vader. She is a fierce fighter, a rallying leader, and the kind role model any moviegoing parent would want to expose their daughters and sons to. And Jones plays her with a fiery warmth that turns her into more than just a pawn piece going through the larger storytelling paces.

She makes her human. I wish Luna had a little more personality, a little more Han Solo swagger, to match her.

review: rogue one: a star wars story: ew review

Rogue One is a Star Wars film, yes. And it feels epic. But what it really is at its core underneath all of the gee-whiz special FX is a heist flick.

This motley band of thieves and scoundrels has to nick some blueprints. And while the movie sags a bit in the middle where it gets weighed down with expositionthe third-act heist is white-knuckle stuff. The two coolest settings are an Imperial-occupied moon called Jedha that looks like the Old City of Jerusalem and the tropical planet Scarif, which conjures strange images of stormtroopers on spring break. Rogue One would have been a very good stand-alone sci-fi movie if it came out under a different name.

But what makes it especially exciting is how it perfectly snaps right into the Star Wars timeline and connects events we already know by heart with ones that we never even considered.

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Save FB Tweet ellipsis More. Image zoom. Episode Recaps Previous. S9 E10 Recap. Homeland recap: Ka-boom again, again. S7 E15 Recap.Rogue One isn't a follow up to The Force Awakens. It's kind of a sequel to the prequels. But not really. It's more of a prequel to the original than a sequel to the prequels. Or as Mark Hamill posted on Twitter, "it is a sequel to the prequels of the sequels of the prequels that are the originals in which this is a prequel of, but not a sequel to the sequel of the originals".

Hope that clears everything up. And after Revenge of the Sith. As Kathleen Kennedy, producer and president of Lucasfilm, pointed out in a recent interview when asked about a sequel to Rogue One - the sequel to Rogue One already exists. It came out in So, we have the when of Rogue One. But what about the what of Rogue One. What is it? The plot of Rogue One is summarized in the opening crawl of Star Warsthe original: It is a period of civil war.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. It has some issues. Some of the dialogue is clunky. And Darth Vader should never, ever, ever make a pun. And a couple of the Easter eggs take the audience out of the film and add a "huh? And one character in particular is the textbook definition of uncanny valley. The pacing doesn't really allow for an easy transition from uncaring criminal to selflessness. Some of the extended cast is criminally underused.

And the Star Wars universe really loves its abandoned children.