What it’s about:
It’s about how Leia (RIP Carrie Fisher) got those plans in the first place don’t cha know.
What I liked about it:
I liked the new characters, especially Chirrut Îmwe, played by Donnie Yen, and Baze Malbus, played by Jiang Wen. Yen’s character is a fun homage to Zatoichi and the only obvious reminder of the force beyond simply saying “may the force be with you” as stand in for “God speed.” I’m not sure whether Imwe and Malbus are intended to recall characters from The Hidden Fortress, but I couldn’t help thinking of them. Neither resemble the peasants that inspired C-3PO and R2-D2, but they’re reminiscent as a pair of friends who provide comic relief, and Bodhi reminds me of Toshiro Mifune’s General Makabe.
I also liked the ending. The attack on Scarif is about as much fun as it’s possible to have in an effects-driven Star Wars vehicle. As the raison d’être for the rest of the film, it doesn’t disappoint. It’s paced well, and Edwards does a good job of coalescing all the different parts into a coherent whole.
What I didn’t like about it:
Once again, the whole point of the movie is to get to Scarif, and the attack on Scarif is good, as good or better than any action sequence in any Star Wars movie. But for the first three quarters of the movie, it feels like they just phoned it in. As with Max Von Sydow in The Force Awakens, Rogue One continues (with both Mads Mikkelsen and Forrest Whitaker) the odd practice of bringing in competent actors and then giving them nothing to do.
What I’m still not so sure about:
Speaking of special effects in the movie, the most impressive of all of course is the appearance of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher. Impressive, but also a little creepy, and it’s hard to resist searching for the cracks in the veneer every time they’re on screen.
I’m also puzzled by the fact that I’ve written this commentary without saying a word about Felicity Jones. Granted, that’s probably a reflection on me rather than the character she plays, but there’s something oddly disposable about these protagonists. They seem more like video game characters than traditional protagonists. For example, other than the scene where Jyn puts herself in harm’s way to help the little girl, no others come to mind as ones obviously designed to establish how we feel about her character.