No-Spoilers Movie Review of Rogue One

I confess that my family is comprised of some major Star Wars nerds. Like big time.  And while I wasn’t quite as excited at the prospect of a standalone story as I’d been when Episode 7 came out, I got my geek on, put on my SW shirt, and went to see this with the family on opening day.

Then I had to think about it.

Then I decided to see it a second  time before posting my review. After all, my opinion of The Force Awakens grew so much with repeated viewings that it’s one of my favorites now.

Then I had to think about it some more.

The good news is, this is visually stunning, has some impressive new worlds and intriguing lore, and contains some of the absolute best moments in SW film history. The not-so-great news is, it also offered some of the worst moments and the most uneven pacing in any of the films.

Now, as I make it a point not to post spoilers in my reviews, I won’t dive into great detail here. But I will say that the pacing of the film was to me the worst thing about it. The first half dragged in numerous spots. I feel this is most likely due to the significant rewrites/reshoots that Disney required when they saw the original cut and hated it. I’m not sure how different the final version ended up, but it does suffer from storytelling problems. Along with strange pacing, some of the characters were not as well developed as I would have liked.  A couple performances were lackluster, bordering on wooden. And I felt that certain portrayals, while perhaps more in keeping with a modern audience’s view of good vs evil, did not honor the spirit of the originals as much as I’d like.

Regarding the overall pacing…it was just weird. At our first viewing, I found myself nodding off a few times, and my teenage daughter fell asleep completely.  When I went back days later, a guy behind me in the theater fell asleep and snored loudly…twice. Then the guy beside me dozed off too. Seriously, multiple people sawing logs at a Star Wars movie? I can’t remember that ever happening before.

That said, much of the last act was thrilling, a real roller coaster ride featuring many things a Star Wars fan will love. It was worth catching twice on the largest screen in my town. There were nods to the other films, cameos I liked and didn’t, CGI that was jaw dropping, though occasionally jarring, and a climatic scene that knocked my socks off. There’s a book titled Catalyst: A Rogue One novel that supposedly enhances understanding of what takes place in the film. While I find it highly suspect that a movie should require a companion novel just to make sense of the choppy plot, I intend to put it on my TBR.

To sum up, I am glad I saw the movie and recommend it,with the caveat that you may or may not agree that a bit of slogging along may be required to get to the good stuff.


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