“Rogue One”: First Impressions

Rogue One poster
December 16, 2016 – Star Wars is back! All the glory, character development and edge-of-your-seat adventure, which were hallmarks of the Original Trilogy, have returned big time in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

But don’t worry: If you haven’t seen Rogue One yet, this article is a spoiler-free “first impressions” discussion after watching the premiere last night. (A true review would require multiple viewings in order to fully absorb all the details of this fast-moving space epic.)

So here are some first impressions:

● A 39-year mystery is finally solved in a very satisfactory way.

● The jury is still out, but Rogue One may come to be seen as one of the best war movies ever.

● There are clever nods to Star Wars Rebels and the Clone Wars as well as easter eggs and cameos galore. Yet nothing is gratuitous. Everything fits seamlessly and feeds into the larger story.

● For the first time, an entire Star Wars movie has taken the focus off the Skywalker family and aimed the camera lens squarely at an assortment of every-day rebels. But what’s spellbinding here is that there are many shades of gray in some of the conflicted characters as well as issues of trust and motive.

● CGI has finally been put to its highest and best use here, resurrecting some things that we thought were lost forever. The computer-graphic imagery never gets in the way and, perhaps for the first time, makes the story possible.

Rogue One is clearly aimed at an adult audience. Younger children and first-time viewers with no Star Wars familiarity might be confused by the initial sequences, jumping around from location to location. But each scene is important in laying the foundation, assembling the disparate rebel team members, and filling in some gaps left by the Original Trilogy.

● The musical score: None of the music is particularly memorable. Composer Alexandre Desplat was originally tapped to score the movie. But after Disney ordered extensive reshoots over the summer, the reshoot calendar meant that Desplat was no longer available. So Michael Giacchino took over. He is the composer behind the Star Trek reboot and various Pixar movies.

With such a short time frame, it’s hard to fault Giacchino. And perhaps, after several viewings, some of the musical pieces will stand out. But for now, this observation is a minor quibble with an otherwise brilliant movie.

● If the movie had to be assigned an episode number, it would probably be Episode 3.9. Rogue One ends just minutes from where A New Hope (Episode IV) begins onboard the Tantive IV ship.

Rogue One will easily earn its place among the Top 2 Star Wars movies (after The Empire Strikes Back) or Top 3 (after Empire and A New Hope).

● And finally, a reminder: Many Bothans do not die in Rogue One. Click the graphic below to see why:

Bothans Die in Shadows of Empire

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