Last December, Disney and LucasFilm revived the “Star Wars” saga with the solid, but highly overrated “The Force Awakens”. More installments and spinoffs were greenly during Episode VII’s production, kicking off with “Rogue One” – an original story set in the middle of the timeline.
The concept is, no surprise, very basic: Oscar nominee Felicity Jones plays Jyn, the leader of a motley crew of rebels who are looking to destroy the Empire’s latest killer toy – the Death Star. The first half of the film is devoted to plot development, and the second half is, essentially, one long battle scene.
One of the most anticipated elements of “Rogue One” is the return of Darth Vader, complete with James Earl Jones’s iconic voice. Vader’s two scenes are easily one of the highlights of the movie for both diehards and casual “Star Wars” fans. There are also a couple of other fun cameo appearances from classic characters of the series.
The “Star Wars” fandom will be enthralled by most of “Rogue One”, but for me, this was a tough movie to get through – and others who aren’t emotionally invested in the franchise may feel the same way. The action is good, but unspectacular. The dialogue and acting, in true “Star Wars” style, are highly overdramatic. And the visuals, to be honest, aren’t as impressive as those in “The Force Awakens”.
“Godzilla” director Gareth Edwards, upon the request of Disney, has infused plenty of light humor into the story, most of it coming from robot K-2SO, this installment’s version of C-3PO. He makes the obligatory wisecracks that had the audience at the screening I attended responding like a sitcom laugh track.
Jones is a likable actress, and she fits the heroine persona well, but “Rogue One” is actually more of an ensemble picture, with a host of supporting performances from the likes of Diego Luna and “Nightcrawler”‘s Riz Ahmed as fellow Rebellion members, the underused Forest Whitaker as Jyn’s former caretaker, Saw Gerrera, and Jimmy Smits, who’s back as Senator Bail Organa.
“Rogue One” is designed specifically and solely for “Star Wars” fanatics, who will probably name it The Best Movie of 2016. But, from an outsider’s perspective, looking at it as a standalone film, as much as I wanted to be swept away by this latest journey to A Galaxy Far, Far Away, I simply wasn’t.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” gets a C.
Running Time: 134 min.