Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Rebel Alliance stole the plans to the Death Star and discovered its One Weakness. Rogue One is the story of how that happened and why the Death Star’s engineers were stupid enough to build that weakness into the system in the first place. (Spoiler: it wasn’t stupidity.)

Snark aside, this was a pretty good Star Wars movie. I was nervous about Rogue One for several reasons. I was nervous when Disney said they were going to make non-Episode Star Wars films, especially another prequel because we know how the last batch of prequels turned out. I was worried because it felt like Disney is trying to turn Star Wars into another Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the MCU has been pretty hit-or-miss even with a lot less baggage than Star Wars.

But Rogue One exceeded my expectations. The movie tells the story of Jyn Erso, the daughter of the Death Star’s unwilling top engineer as she tries to get her father back and later stop the Empire from blowing up planets with a ragtag group of rebels. Now, here is the biggest flaw in the movie: I can’t tell you any of the others’ names. I don’t remember them, and the reason is that the exposition was muddled, busy, and definitely didn’t go out of the way to help the audience learn who these people were, even though several of them are compelling characters onscreen. I’m not great with names in general, but I just couldn’t keep track of them. (And it doesn’t help that Star Wars is filled with made-up names rather than familiar ones.)

But after that point, I enjoyed the movie. The rest of the story was well-written, and it was a technological marvel for the digital Peter Cushing alone. He really looked almost real, and he definitely came down on our side of the Uncanny Valley. I have a hunch we’ll be seeing more resurrected actors in other movies in the future.

I admit I was still worried, however. I was worried when the plot swerved in an unexpected direction from the heist flick that was implied in the trailer. I was worried when I couldn’t keep track of people’s names. But most of all, I was worried that they would botch the ending–that they would cop-out from where the story needed to go…but they didn’t. The ending was pulled off beautifully, and even if it was a little contrived, I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s some stiff competition, but I might be willing to go so far as to say that it was the most moving ending of any Star Wars film, and it goes a long way to make up for the messy introduction. In conclusion, Rogue One is a must-see for the hardcore and casual fan alike.

My rating: 4 out of 5.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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