The streak is over! I had made opening day for the last seven Star Wars theatrical releases - 1983 for Return of the Jedi in South San Francisco, Episodes IV, V, and VI Special Edition in 1997 in Orange County, The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars in Hawai'i in 1999 and 2002, and Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens right here in American Samoa in 2005 and 2015. I had my tickets for Rogue One on opening night, but opted to break the streak to attend our Lions Club Christmas party, which turned out to be a blast, so I'm not disappointed. Okay, so this isn't a beer related post, but after the movie I just watched, I'll need a nice, cold Koko Samoa Stout to contemplate the marvel of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Yesterday I went to watch Rogue One and I was blown away. I haven't enjoyed a Star Wars film this much since Return of the Jedi. Director Gareth Edwards did a fantastic job of weaving a story that finally bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and the Rebels animated series and A New Hope. The story was excellent, the cast was phenomenal, and it had the kind of edge-of-your-seat action that a great war flick should. And make no mistake, Rogue One is a war film at its core - think of The Dirty Dozen or Saving Private Ryan in space.
I'll start with the acting. Let me just say, it was very good. Actress Felicity Jones played the lead part of Jyn Erso very well and the intrigue of her backstory mixed with her steely performance as the leader of the ragtag group really pushed the envelope for female leads in Hollywood (suck on vapors, Rey!). Supporting folks like Forrest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, and Riz Ahmed add to a very solid cast. I thought a little more background on a couple of the supporting roles would have been helpful for those who aren't EU enthusiasts, but it wasn't a big deal, and I'm not a fan of 3 hour movies. While I thought the supporting cast was great, it was Alan Tudyk's voice performance as K-2SO that was really memorable - adding a great amount of comic relief and surprising emotional depth as a CG droid. Tudyk hit a homerun with his supporting role and was one of the highlights of the film for me.
The visual effects were the best I've ever seen in a Star Wars movie, and that should say a lot. The realism of the Star Wars galaxy was brought to life in stunning detail by the great effects house, Industrial Light and Magic. CG characters, ships, tanks and walkers were seamlessly inserted into beautiful locations, and the blend of real effects and CG is amazing. Explosions, laser bolts, X-Wings, etc will blow your mind. If I have one gripe with the film, it's the CG human faces. This isn't ILM's fault, it's just the fact that no CG human faces look completely real. But this is a minor issue that wasn't a distraction - just me being a nitpicker.
Lastly, I must talk about the Dark Lord of the Sith, the guy who made me appreciate the villain role the first time I saw him on the screen in A New Hope...the coolest bad guy ever, Darth Vader. Without divulging any spoilers, I will share that Darth Vader blew my mind. While he had a very small amount of screen time, he took over and his cameo role was everything that Revenge of Sith failed to deliver at the end of the movie. This was the Darth Vader we'd never seen on the big screen - the badass who destroyed the order of the Jedi.
Overall, I give the film a very high score. Since I'm all hopped up over this film and plan on watching it a few more times before it is done showing in the theaters here, I'll score it a perfect 5 out of 5 hops! The opportunity to see the fabled mission we have heard so much about for so long in so many different Star Wars films, novels, and comics, finally come to life on the big screen was well worth the nearly 40 year wait. Go see this movie right now, and you can thank me later! CHEERS!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Pros: Action-packed story, fantastic acting, jaw-dropping visual effects, nostalgic value
Cons: Human CG faces, only one viewing allowed per ticket
The Verdict: 5 out of 5