‘Rogue One’ Immediate Hit With (Most) Critics

By December 14, 2016

The first reviews are coming in for the latest Star Wars movie, and they’re … actually pretty solid.

More than 140 critics released their opinions of Rogue One Tuesday after Lucasfilm lifted its review embargo, and at least according to those critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes, they like it.

In fact, the site already has declared Rogue One “Certified Fresh,” meaning that it’s a critical hit. As of Tuesday evening, 83 percent – or 118 – of the critics gave the latest Star Wars outing a thumbs up. Of course, it still has a ways to go to reach its most recent predecessor, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which earned the approval of 92 percent of the more than 360 critics who reviewed it.

Neil Miller of Film School Rejects called Gareth Edwards’ directing work on Rogue One the Saving Private Ryan of Star Wars movies.

“Thanks to technological advances and a keen eye of chaotic composition, Edwards and his team have created war sequences that are unlike anything we’ve seen in a Star Wars movie to date. In fact, they may be unlike anything we’ve seen in most war movies.”

“Using an incredible depth of field, the battle sequences come to life and explore with immense detail. We’re talking Stormtrooper parts flying around, genuine consequences for heroes, lots of murky grey-area morality.”

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times pushed the war movie idea even further, saying even if you’ve somehow know nothing about Star Wars, this is still a movie just about anyone who likes this kind of stuff could enjoy.

“Much of Rogue One is about Jyn (Erso) and the obligatory rag-tag band of unlikely heroes trying to steal the plans to the Death Star. (If you remember the opening crawl from Star Wars, it’s not much of a mystery as to whether they succeed). But of course those plans are just the MacGuffin to trigger the action and to give Jyn, Chirrut, Cassian, et al., their chances to find out who they really are, and their individual and collective moments in the sun.”

Jyn is played by Felicity Jones, while Chirrut Imwe is played by Donnie Yen and Cassian Andor by Diego Luna.

The New York Post‘s Kyle Smith called Rogue One a “thinking fan’s” Star Wars.

“The script for Rogue One … is the series’ best since The Empire Strikes Back – which is the only previous entry that had a particularly polished script. The rest got by (or tried to) on sci-fi spectacle, shootouts, mystical mumbo jumbo, and the grandeur of the musical compositions.

Rogue One‘s writers … cleverly seal up perhaps the biggest plot hole in the entire Star Wars franchise, largely eschew meaningless sci-fi technobabble (like the infamous ‘I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters’), and deliver so much witty dialogue that the movie has a completely different, more sophisticated feel than most recent special effects-riven entries, including last year’s so-so The Force Awakens.”

Sadly, however, not everyone is singing the praises of Rogue One. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle described the film as “demoralized,” and even more, “no fun.”

“With the help of four screenwriters, Edwards turns Star Wars into a war movie, and that is a fundamental error. War movies are about toil, half victories, moral compromise and self-doubt. Star Wars is all about good versus evil, about the hard, rewarding work of bringing the light and casting out darkness.

“Yes, it’s understandable that after eight movies depicting the same struggle, filmmakers might feel a certain exhaustion. But to load that exhaustion onto the characters is a huge mistake. It’s the same as shoveling a weight onto the audience.”

Slant Magazine‘s Sam C. Mac believes Rogue One is more a product of its “corporate overlords” Disney rather than what writers would actually like to create.

“Each character is more interesting for the economy of development that Edwards affords them. Unfortunately, that impulse seems at odds with the apparent demands of the director’s corporate overlords: Whatever momentum the new characters’ story has is constantly compromised by prolonged plot detours intent on reintroducing the audience to old places and – in at least one egregious instance – reanimated old faces. This does more than compromise the integrity of Rogue One‘s plot; it undercuts its core ethic.”

“While the narrative purports to be an original story about the struggles of a handful of renegades, the film subjugates that effort with what’s become Disney’s foremost agenda in reviving this franchise: pandering to an audience’s easily stimulated sense of familiarity.”

Finally, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone admits Rogue One isn’t perfect. But no one would expect it to be … or want it to be.

“As a movie, it can feel alternatively slow and rushed, cobbled together out of spare parts, and in need of more time on the drawing board. But the damn thing is alive and bursting with the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago.

“Familiar faces – human and droid – make cameos. But not once do you doubt that the new characters are breathing the same air as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and the baddest of badasses, Darth Vader.”

Rogue One was written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy based on a story from John Knoll and Gary Whitta, all based on characters created by George Lucas. It was directed by Gareth Edwards.

It opens Friday.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.