The reviews for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ are out

Rogue One Star Wars Orson Krennic ben mendelsohn
Ben Mendelsohn plays one of the movie’s villains. Disney

The INSIDER Summary:

• The first reviews are in for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
• Critics are impressed with how thrilling the action is, and how diverse the cast is.

• Others wished it didn’t fit so neatly into the “Star Wars” template.

• Overall, people think it’s good!

The reviews for the first “Star Wars” spin-off movie, “Rogue One,” are here.

“Rogue One” takes place before the events of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” and follows a band of rebels who plan to steal the plans for the Death Star from the Galactic Empire.

The reviews are mostly positive, but critics have some quibbles. The middle part moves a bit too slowly, and some critics think the film revisits too much of the same material found in the other “Star Wars” stories instead of staking out its own territory.

Mostly everyone, though, is impressed by how action-packed it is and by its commitment to cast diversity. Jyn Erso, the film’s feminist hero (played by Felicity Jones) is a particular highlight.

Here’s what the critics have to say.

The Hollywood Reporter finds it an entertaining set-up for “Star Wars: Episode IV.”

Director Gareth Edwards, whose low-budget debut feature Monsters was more than a few leagues better than his mixed-bag Godzilla redo, knows what he’s up to here. Shooting in a more spontaneous-feeling manner than his series predecessors that keeps the energy high and both the actors and the audience on their toes, the director builds up to a gigantic third-act showdown that plays like a sci-fi version of the Battle of Iwo Jima, complete with tropical island.

Collider likes how the film is refreshingly different from its predecessors.

Director Gareth Edwards finally pushes the franchise outside of its comfort zone. It’s unmistakably a I movie, but the universe has been re-contextualized through a more sophisticated lens. We’re past the point now where we assume Rebellion = good, Empire = bad. Through Rogue One, we see a more recognisable conflict tinged with darkness that feels real rather than darkness that just wants to gritty up the joint so that people will take the movie seriously.

Star wars rogue one
Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the hero. Picture: Disney

Variety noted how adult-friendly the movie is.

There are no Ewoks or Jar Jar Binks-like characters here, thrown in just to appeal to pre-school-aged audiences. The plot is designed less like a flashy video game, and more like a down-and-dirty war movie … And quite a few of the principal characters die, which would be upsetting for young viewers … With all due respect to comic-book devotees, this is the “Suicide Squad” audiences have been waiting for this year.

Entertainment Weekly loves how the story dives into a new corner of the “Star Wars” story.

How did Princess Leia come to possess the plans to the Death Star that she hides in R2-D2 at the beginning of that film? Where did they come from? How were they obtained? Were they stolen or turned over by a traitor? Granted, these may not be the questions that keep a lot of us up at night. But thankfully, they do keep up people like Gareth Edwards. Because that one tiny missing puzzle piece is the entire narrative for Rogue One.

Newsday doesn’t find the story very innovative.

Director Gareth Edwards takes a brave risk by staging several action sequences in Vietnam War-movie mode — it’s interesting to see laser-toting soldiers trudging through ankle-deep water against a backdrop of palm trees — but the final battle is overlong and very jumbled. “Rogue One” should thrill die-hard fans and placate casual ones, but this stand-alone story often seems to be standing in the same old place.

Chirrut Imwe Star Wars Rogue One
There’s a motley crew who tries to steal the plan for the Death Star. Picture: Disney

The Daily Beast, on the other hand, thinks it’s the best “Star Wars” movie since “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Rogue One serves up plenty of political statements about what makes a hero — or rather, a heroine — and the timeless human imperative to stand up to bullying and injustice in the world. … Where The Force Awakens leaned on a family-friendly appeal with its innocent do-gooder leads and tantrum-throwing baddie, Rogue One satisfies a darker itch.

The Los Angeles Times admires the movie’s commitment to its characters’ diversity.

It takes only a glance at this ragtag ensemble to notice the same striking commitment to on-screen diversity that marked “The Force Awakens.” Casting quotas, of course, don’t make a movie; actors do, and you are likely to leave “Rogue One” marveling less at its demographics than at Jones’ sympathetic ferocity, Luna’s flinty charisma and the kick-arse sangfroid of Yen, one of Hong Kong’s biggest action stars.

Screen Crush wishes the characters had more room to breathe.

Edwards is very good at crafting images that straddle the uncomfortable line between beauty and horror, and at dwarfing people with giant monsters and machines with powers beyond mortal comprehension. It’s his comprehension of mortals that sometimes feels lacking.

K2 so rogue one
K-2SO is the movie’s comic relief, but he’s still a badass droid. Disney/Lucasfilm

The Guardian finds Jyn Erso a new feminist hero.

Felicity Jones is in the tousled-yet-game tradition of Star Wars female leads, like Carrie Fisher or Daisy Ridley: well-born but determined, with a sense of purpose befitting an heiress, if not a princess.

The Playlist says the reshoots make the movie seem disjointed.

Given the patchwork nature of the movie, even on a practical level, one cannot dismiss the impact of the reshoots. … And while the new threading isn’t as obvious as something like “Suicide Squad” for example, the fragmented story beats suggest the presence of problem solving ringers brought in to aid the unwieldly sequences, many of which have trouble sustaining their poignant qualities.

IndieWire thinks the film is a balancing act between Lucas’s prequel trilogy and Disney’s takeover of the franchise.

The whole movie is compellingly balanced between old and new, determined to pave over the potholes that have been caused by corporate and creative upheaval over the years and force a feeling of cohesion upon Hollywood’s signature spectacle. This is about bringing peace to the galaxy in more ways than one.

Our own Kirsten Acuna says “Star Wars” fans will be very happy with the end result. You can read INSIDER’s “Rogue One” review here.

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