Rebel Alliance fans will find themselves perplexed as to how bland and timid this Disney stand-alone Star Wars saga feels when compared to last year’s spectacular “The Force Awakens.” This newest space drama debuts a star-studded cast that’s been given an underwhelming and way too serious script from which to tackle the Empire’s newest planet-killing machine and win-over new fans.
The “Rogue One” Star Wars PG-13 adventure squanders too much screen time on characters outside the handful of true, meaningful rebels with a cause. Any opportunities to develop camaraderie between the main cast is lost on its stammering start into hyperspace. The audience mood stays reflective, almost somber, for over 90 minutes as little lightheartedness or charisma is established within the half-dozen rogue fighters. One-liners are spewed from time to time, but they only spark small chuckles from viewers, at best. There are no rah-rah, cheering moments in “Rogue One.”
Several original Star Wars’ characters, however, do make tiny cameo appearances and are without a doubt one of the film’s few brighter timestamps. But minus any ear-blowing, award-winning John Williams’ music score, combined with special effects that aren’t noticeably better than any other sci-fi motion pictures found today, “Rogue One” shockingly underperforms even moderate expectations from Star Wars followers.
Understandably, this storyline requires additional scenes to give these newcomers the opportunity to introduce themselves to each other—and to us—the Star Wars faithful. The trust issues and standoffishness between Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso and Diego Luna (Captain Cassian Andor) never really feels real. By the time their contorted relationship thaws, it’s way too late for any emotional attachment to be felt or seen between the sidekicks. In fact, “Rogue One” never gets up to full speed on establishing any authentic relationships—good or bad—another dire consequence from this outlier episode offering.
Without the action-packed, good vs. evil fight during the film’s final 40 minutes, “Rogue One” would be a complete disaster in the overall Star Wars timeline. With easy comparisons to last year’s more formidable, funny, historic and nostalgic offspring “The Force Awakens” (my No. 1 movie in 2015), “Rogue One” pales in resemblance and shear strength.
Disappointed Star Wars viewers leaving “Rogue One” would be wise to take in Will Smith’s latest movie, “Collateral Beauty,” to catch a better theater experience this weekend—and truly one of the year’s most acclaimed casts wielding their A-game. That movie’s complex focus on grieving will offer “Rogue One” fans real hope.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action. Its running time is 2 hours and 13 minutes.