Like every Star Wars fan, we were excited by the prospect of a standalone Star Wars film. This was a project that lived in the realm of a galaxy far, far away but was free to explore a plot that was not linked to the rise and fall of the Skywalkers.
Director Garett Edwards had very big shoes to fill. How does one pay homage to the biggest film franchise in the world yet create a brand new storyline that could gather new fans? Rian Johnson did a commendable job with The Force Awakens but it is our opinion that Edwards did not.
Sure, the movie was great as an action flick. It had witty one-liners, fantastic camerawork that let you feel like you’re part of the action (we might actually consider watching this on a D-Box), and so many cameos from A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back that would bring any fan of the original trilogy back to their childhood. And its end provided a direct link to the beginning of Star Wars, the movie that started the craziness.
But it didn’t capture the mood of Star Wars. Maybe it was because fans were already vested in the characters of the Original Trilogy, the Prequels and the Sequels. In the Prequels, you had the origin stories of Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Palpatine. In the Sequels, you were reunited with Han Solo, General Leia and Luke Skywalker, old heroes of the Original Trilogy. These characters provided continuance.
Not so here. Even as the cameos brought sparks to the timeline, they were not enough to lift the movie. The characters Jyn Erso, Captain Cassian Andor, Chirrut Imwe struggled to find a voice – quite literally in Saw Gerrera’s case, the rebel militant played by Forest Whitaker even had a low-cost version of Darth Vader’s ventilator.
(Potential spoiler if you haven’t read anything before the movie premiere)
We knew the rebels were not getting home alive (even though these are not the Bothans – they’re the ones who delivered plans for the Death Star II). We knew who designed the Death Star. There was no plot twist going in. This was the perfect opportunity to turn Star Wars on its head. We could not help but feel a better script with more convicted acting could have drawn out the human (aliens too) emotion of the rebellion. Their struggles under the Empire and what made them rebel. A more convincing story could have the franchise more legs to crank out TV series, comics, novels or more standalone films.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story could have moved away from the comic, action genre into a whole different world but it didn’t. In the end, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is like a distant relative you meet at Chinese New Year. You see the family resemblance but you’re not interested enough to want to meet them more than once.