It has taken me a bit of time to realize that a certain set of movies are more episodic like television instead of being its separate piece of art. Franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or The Fast and Furious series have recurring and sometimes returning characters much like a season of television would. Star Wars, due to the recent purchase that Disney made, now falls into this category. There will be an eighth and ninth in the series, probably more, along with a few side movies like the Han Solo movie that is planned for the future and the new Gareth Edward’s film, Rogue One about the team that stole the Death Star plans.
Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars (A New Hope for those of you who need that) as a group of rag tags attempt to steal the plans to the moon sized Death Star that will find the flaws and lead to its eventual destruction. We mostly follow Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) whose father is taken when she is young and forced to work on the Death Star. We meet a whole lot more characters until they all group up to find the plans and get them to the Rebels.
The worst part of the film is the introduction of all the characters. The scene with Jyn’s parents is really effective, but the introduction of the other characters like Han Solo type Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), blind force believer Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), excellent shot and partner to Chirrut, Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Imperial pilot turned good Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) are clunky, poorly paced and a bit confusing. The actors do well falling into their roles and the movie does gain its focus. They are simplistic characters, but just good enough to make an impact. Most of them aren’t even part of the Rebel Alliance, they just find themselves in a situation where they can help the good cause and do.
The action here is pretty fun. There are about three big ones, the first being just spectacle as our heroes are surrounded by a large wave of enemies. The second battle is pure emotion as characters are filled with motivation from the outcome. It also is the most intense from any Star Wars action scene before it. When CGI is done right in Star Wars it is truly a spectacle, it is one of the best air fights in all of the franchise. Luckily, that scene is topped with the final battle scene, a thirty to forty minute tour de force of everything that has ever made Star Wars great. They cram in gun fights, air fights, those giant camel things from Empire, the force helping overcome the impossible, extreme bravery and they even find a way to throw a lightsaber in. It is certainly one of the best scenes of the year, full of excitement, thrills and references to other movies.