Home / Technology / The 'Rogue One' review roundup: The latest post-Lucas 'Star Wars' is an absolute smash

The 'Rogue One' review roundup: The latest post-Lucas 'Star Wars' is an absolute smash

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) lead a team of Rebel spies in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) lead a team of Rebel spies in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
Image: Lucasfilm

Wouldn’t it be nice if this were the era of annual Star Wars movies, each seemingly better than the last? That may be the case for the time being, as critics and fans start seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and heap upon it all the praise this galaxy has to offer. 

The reviews are in, and largely enthusiastic. 

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

Taking place just before the events of the first released Star Wars movie in 1977, this spin-off/prequel has the same primitive, lived-in, emotional, loopy, let’s-put-on-a-show spirit that made us fall in love with the original trilogy…As a movie, it can feel alternately slow and rushed, cobbled together out of spare parts, and in need of more time of the drawing board. But the damn thing is alive and bursting with the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago.

Brian Truitt, USA Today:

But Star Wars is very much about a grand mythology of Skywalkers and smugglers, “chosen ones” and weird cantina aliens. In that way, Rogue One feels small in scale, even with its signature heroism and sci-fi action, and its main players mostly lack the charm that made Rey, Finn and Poe in last year’s The Force Awakens — or Han, Luke and Leia back in the day — so special.

Peter Debruge, Variety:

Not only does Rogue One overlap ever so slightly with A New Hope, but it takes that blockbuster’s biggest weakness — that a small one-man fighter can blow up a battlestation the size of a class-four moon — and actually turns this egregious design flaw into an asset. Now we know why the Death Star has an Achilles’ heel and how that information fell into Princess Leia’s hands. Plus (and here’s the aspect that should send longtime Star Wars fans into ecstatic orbit), director Gareth Edwards has finally made the first Star Wars movie for grown-ups.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

…part of its charm resides in the eerie, almost dreamlike effect of continually producing familiar elements, reshuffled and reconfigured, a reaching back to the past and hinting at a preordained future.

The Action

Rolling Stone:

Then there’s the action, which Edwards handles like a jedi master and a kid with a new set of toys. From X-wing dogfights to battle scenes that resemble those in Apocalypse Now, Edwards makes you feel every obstacle as the outnumbered rebels face off against the vast Empire, run by Krennic and Vader. And the use of hand-held cameras lets Edwards take us right into battle. Rogue One actually gets better as it goes along, and the combat-heavy last third of the movie is pure pow with a cherry on top.

USA Today:

Still, Edwards has a great handle on what makes Star Wars-ready visual spectacle. He crafts one of the saga’s best space battles in the superb, film-saving third act and takes the action to land for realistic ground-and-pound warfare.

As part of one of the galaxy’s most prominent franchises, Rogue One, even as a standalone film, has its moments of fan service.

Variety:

“Rogue One” is loaded with allusions to other films in the franchise, and though that’s fun for the faithful, it also makes this the “Battlefield Earth” of the series: an elaborate, complex-to-the-point-of-confusing space opera that will earn few converts, while appealing primarily to the already-converted.

“With all due respect to comic-book devotees, this is the ‘Suicide Squad’ audiences have been waiting for this year.”

Robbie Collins, The Telegraph:

But a devotees, of which a few reportedly exist, needn’t panic: the thing is crammed with the kind of cameos and callbacks, from beloved incidental characters to sly recreations of specific shots from the original trilogy, that make multiple viewings a necessity. 

USA Today:

But important characterization gets lost amid fan-service gymnastics, excessive even for a Star Wars aficionado. The effort put into working in Easter eggs, winks and knowing nods to the past could have been used better to further its new cast.

The new cast

Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso “with a defiant verve,” and Rolling Stone describes Ben Mendelsohn, the actor behind a new baddie, as possessed of “the most delicious shades of fright and fun this side of Christoph Waltz.”

The cast is extensive and full of new characters and, according to Variety, they’re worth it:

While all of these eccentrically named Rebels fall within well-established character types, the ensemble is diverse enough that viewers will surely gravitate toward their own favorites. K-2SO gets the best lines, though the blind Chirrut earned the loudest applause at the film’s premiere…

The Telegraph:

For a while, barely a scene passes in which someone isn’t kidnapped and dragged to a rendezvous with the next key character – though the characters themselves, from Riz Ahmed’s defecting Imperial pilot to Donnie Yen’s Zatoichi-like blind martial artist, are a textured and engaging bunch.

“Everything different comes sprinkled with crumbs of the familiar.”

The final word? This is a Star Wars film the fans deserve.

But at least it’s not the crass cash-grab skeptics may have feared. If this is your first Star Wars movie, you will be compelled to immediately follow it with , since the film doesn’t end so much as abruptly roll credits after delivering a long-delayed payoff no other 2016 release can possibly rival.

Variety

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