Story Dashiel Bove
Illustration Ashton Carless
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a serious, almost crippling flaw. What is otherwise a great movie and an excellent entry into the Star Wars saga is plagued by an incredibly underwhelming first hour. And yet, the second hour of Rogue One is incredible and deserves a place among the best of Star Wars.
Beginning just before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One follows the story of the group of rebel agents who managed to retrieve the Death Star blueprints that allowed for the station’s destruction by Luke Skywalker in A New Hope.
As has been the case since 1977’s Star Wars, the film presents some of the most impressive contemporary visual effects and musical scores. The acting starts off as rather stilted and awkward, but improves as the movie goes on. There are occasional moments of good wit and humor, almost all of which revolves around K-2S0, a droid voiced by Alan Tudyk.
It is unfortunate that these positives, save the visual effects and score, don’t appear in the first hour of the movie. This first hour is spent giving background to the lead, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and showing the audience the losing fight the rebellion is facing in the days preceding the heist of the Death Star plans. The writing and editing feel choppy, with characters coming and going with little impact on the audience. The result of this is the complete waste of the incredibly talented Forrest Whittaker and Mads Mikkelsen, who both play important characters given very little screentime.
Yet somehow, the second half of Rogue One picks up the pieces and becomes an entirely different movie. The editing and writing improve in quality and the actors, now working with somehow improved material, are allowed to thrive. The second half of the movie stops cutting from planet to planet and instead focuses solely on the main cast as they go on a suicide mission to retrieve and broadcast the schematics. The infiltration and subsequent battle are perfectly executed and fill the audience with a sense of panic as this small band of rebels fights to send out a message containing the last hope for the rebellion.
This second half is so good that it very nearly makes up for the poor first hour. However, that first hour truly hurts Rogue One. Yes, the movie deserves your patronage, but maybe wait a few weeks for the lines to die down.