The Amazing Spider Tank

The Amazing Spider Tank
Spider-Tank, Spider-Tank. Does whatever a Spider-Tank does. Can he swing from a web? No he can't, he's a tank. Look out! He is a Spider-Tank!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Spoiler-free Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Well, it is here: Another Star Wars movie. We fans shall be treated to approximately one every year until the apocalypse. I am sure there will be good ones and bad ones. This is not one of them. I promised a spoiler-free review and so this shall be. I will be posting a spoiler-filled review soon as well, but don't worry, you will be fine just reading this one. Just so you know, I will be assuming people have seen the trailers. If you have not and want to go in blind, then this is not for you. For those of you that are really worried, simply stop reading and go see the movie, nothing I say here should detract anyone from doing so, nor will it necessarily make it any more enjoyable. The movie was great.

This is our first look at an anthology film in the Star Wars universe, ie not really part of the saga. There is an overarching storyline for Star Wars that we have seen so far, but this is the first movie that breaks from that mold...kind of. Although this is said to be a stand alone movie, the title alone tells you that it connects with the original trilogy. What we have is a prequel to A New Hope, which is the 4th overall episode of the Star Wars saga. I believe the director has publicly said that this movie's plot is included in the opening crawl for A New Hope, and I believe he succeeded, and a lot more.

Gareth Edwards (director) decided that he would be making a gritty war film similar to Saving Private Ryan and others, all centered around the budding Rebel Alliance's attempt to steal the Death Star Plans. I think this was expertly done. Gareth does a good enough job creating a new story that sticks out of the saga, and yet always points to and enhances the originals, which is a very fine line and difficult thing to do. The bane of most prequels is that they are too referential to the original movies. Instead of giving mainly filled in backstory and a solid story on their own, they simply nudge and wink at the audience saying "remember this from the originals? Yay nostalgia!". The worst example of this that I can think of is Dumb and Dumberer. For those of you unlucky enough to have seen it, that entire movie was joke after joke references to the original. It didn't really add anything new, it didn't give us good insight into the characters, the plot was horrendous, and you were left just wishing you had watched the original which did the same jokes but better.

Rogue One treads the line very well. There is plenty of fan service and references of course, but on the whole it succeeds in telling its own story, AND pointing "back" to the original movies, making even those movies better. THATS'S what a good prequel can do. If you can watch the originals and they have more meaning and umph because of a prequel, then I think it did it's job.

Comparing Rogue One to the originals and trying to make claims that it is better than any of the other movies doesn't feel right to me after watching the movie. Maybe you will see what I mean, but this movie feels like a short TV episode or a bonus feature that gives background to the movie (A New Hope) or something. I mean that in the most positive way though. The movie's pacing feels a little bit bizarre but I can't quite put my finger on it. It ends pretty abruptly as well, almost feeling forced, although it succeeds in everything the story was attempting so...I dunno, lol.

The soundtrack actually threw me off. There were elements of the original soundtrack which were the best parts in the movie, but everything else didn't quite sound right. I can see where the music director (Michael Giacchino) was coming from, but it didn't feel like John Williams. Perhaps it was not meant to. And this could just be me as well. I've seen people rave about the soundtrack and like most music it depends on the listener.

The visuals were also very well done in the movie. Space and ground battles never looked better. The lasers and dogfights were epic and exhilarating, and felt a lot like the original movies, which is a good thing. The ground battles remind me of the best parts of the Battle of Hoth, mixed with Star Wars scenarios that have up until now been only available to see in a video game. There were definitely some major visual/technical issues I have with the movie, and that will be more covered in the spoiler review, but most of it was good enough that it didn't ruin anything. Mainly it was some CGI that I don't think will stand the test of time (like a lot of CGI). The set pieces, costumes, and all of the new additions in regards to ships and technology were all expertly done. There is a bit of the same issue that the prequel trilogy had in that the technology in some cases seemed more advanced than the OT, but it wasn't nearly as bad.

I loved the aliens that were included, and the diversity in general has to be commended. They managed to have a more diverse cast than most movies in general, but I never felt like it was political or forced (sorry, racists). Instead, it was beautifully natural and it looked and felt like a galaxy that was populated by real people. That is the only thing that makes this movie take away from the original trilogy. If you go back and watch them, you will be wondering where all the non-white and non-male people in the galaxy went. I want to see a special edition that at least adds some *ahem* color to the background at the very least, or else the change will be quite jarring.

Some of the changes made to set this apart from the saga also ended up being a little distracting for me. Not including the classic Star Wars crawl for example threw me off. I was expecting it, as the director made it public a while ago, but I did miss it. There was little text that popped up at the bottom of the screen that told you where you were, which felt out of place. It's something that's used in most movies, just not Star Wars. And as I said the soundtrack felt a little off at times. These were little things, but they were enough to make me forget that I was watching Star Wars at times.

The story is compelling, and you enjoy the thrills as it goes on, learning more about the characters and their own personal struggles. You see the overarching plot advance on, and the characters have to adapt to it. It is simple storytelling really, but so many movies miss that mark. The movie also does a great job of giving you many characters, all of whom you care about. I think the screen time is spread out well enough that you end up knowing all the characters, which is another difficult thing to do. The movie also has its funny moments, despite being a gritty war film, which helps relax watchers and lets them enjoy a little more I think. Alan Tudyk's K2SO will go down in history as one of the best droids in the series. I foresee many comics that will shed more light on his character. Donnie Yen as the blind Chirrut Imwe was also very good. That's not to say that the main characters were not so, I just personally really enjoyed these other two.

There is not much more I can say without spoiling stuff, and there is stuff to be spoiled. There are easter eggs like in all the movies and I look forward to discovering them with you.

To make a long review short: Rogue One is a great movie. Go see it.


-Costumes/sets/technology design
-Makes the OT better


-CGI issues
-Soundtrack (personal preference)
-Odd pacing
-Changes made to set it apart from the saga sets it apart a little too much


  1. It shouldn't be a surprise to me that my opinion of the movie is almost exactly the same as yours. As always, well written.

  2. I agree about the soundtrack. I wasn't crazy about it. I think the pacing was really off in the beginning where they were just flashing from one place to another to another. Good review!