Rogue One A Star Wars Story features some of the best environments and special effects ever seen. Unfortunately, there are a few points which are so poorly done that they drop this from a solid and potentially epic spin-off to the level of The Phantom Menace. Here are the key problems.
CGI Moff Tarkin – The number one problem in this film. Unfortunately, the great Peter Cushing is no longer with us but that hasn’t stopped the makers of this film giving his character an incredible amount of screen time. When we first see him he is looking out over the construction of the Death Star. You can tell by the ‘poor’ accent it is Tarkin and you get a blurred reflection of his face. Here is where the film should have left the Tarkin character. Instead, he turns round and continues to take part in the scene. The CGI is not at the level that it needs to be for this kind of interaction. This is far below the level of Gollum in Lord Of The Rings. It is even poorer than the CGI in Terminator 2. You will never get over seeing Moff Tarkin in these scenes. It is such a break from reality that you cannot forget it. When Princess Leia appears at the end she is also CGI but handled slightly better. The makers have managed to create a CGI character more annoying than Jar Jar Binks. Some achievement.
The heavy-handed links to the original trilogy
Oh dear oh dear. Think of your target audience for this film. They will have seen the original trilogy. They will probably have seen all the Star Wars films multiple times. They do not need hit over the head with the proverbial hammer every time something harkens back to the original film series. The only thing missing is the characters turning to the camera and winking. It is not subtle. It is blunt and again removes you from the story it is trying to tell and detracts from the otherwise excellent performances. Felicity Jones, as Jyn Erso is brilliant. She judges the performance between criminal and freedom fighter and is the focus of every scene she is in. You become invested in her story until they are forced to try and bring you back to the fact that this film directly sets up episode four. Lines are put in, characters appear without context and Darth Vader has a force choking moment. Worse than this is the unnecessary amount of humour. In the Force Awakens and the original trilogy the humour feels organic and has a touch of the gallows about it. In Rogue One, the jokes feel like they have been inserted by a professional comedian. The droid character K-2SO, is genuinely funny with a deadpan humour that harkens back to early Han Solo. But after the initial humour, they feel the need for him to make a sarcastic comment at every turn. There are other jokes that feel out of place in a film which is essentially about a fabled suicide mission.
The Simple Story Manages To Be Confusing
This should have been the equivalent of a Saving Private Ryan or Dirty Dozen in the Star Wars Universe. We needed longer with the band of characters we see. A few more minutes with the crew of Rogue One would have made all the difference. Instead, we get this collection of amazing scenes and set pieces which get ruined by terrible missteps. Vader’s choking scene is pure fan service and he looks out of place. When he attacks the shuttle at the end we see what Vader is really like. He carves his way through a score of rebel troopers using his lightsaber and the force chasing them down until the film ends exactly where Episode 4 begins. Unfortunately, this could be a case of Disney making some alterations to appeal to a younger audience. Certainly, the subject matter of a suicide mission does not lend itself to normal Star Wars outcomes. Suicide missions in Star Wars usually end up with a miracle rescue. This doesn’t. This film could have been so more. Instead, it feels like a very good Star Wars novel or Video game. Everything that relates back to the original trilogy is shoe-horned in. If there had been more subtle moments then it would have been perfect. The space battle at the end features the same squadrons that we see on the original attack on the Death Star. It is nice to see Gold Leader actually doing something useful for a change. Instead of these moments we get R2D2 and C3PO pointlessly saying they are going to be on the ship to Scariff. We get the two thugs that Luke and Obi-Wan dispatch in Mos Eisley inserted in another town saying the same lines just before the city is nuked. Now how did they escape that to get to Mos Eisley in time for Episode 4 a matter of days later? This, adds another plot hole where it isn’t necessary. For a film that bluntly ties off any hint of a loose end, making another is strangely out of place.
In all this is a missed opportunity. It insults the intelligence of its target audience but may be loved by a younger generation or dare we say it the casual viewer. There is much to love in the special effects and battle scenes but everything comes back to a CGI Moff Tarkin rubber-facing his way through difficult dialogue.