Review: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – a film review by Gary Chew

When I was a boy, I went to the movies nearly every week, usually on Fridays. I didn’t go necessarily because the double feature playing was something just really fabulous. What drew me to the theater was The Raiders Of Ghost City,” a Western/Post Civil War serial from 1944. Each episode ran about 15 minutes. All installments concluded with something awful about to happen to the good guys.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Many full throated two-hour plus films are serials today. We call them a “franchise.” And since there’s another big holiday season upon us, the Star Wars phenomenon is also upon us; this one being Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

When I first laid eyes on Alicia Vikander‘s visage in that fabulous robot movie Ex Machina, I knew that this Swedish born woman would soon show up in blockbuster movies, making those very big bucks for her fine talent and beauty. Ms Vikander making mucho dinero is great. If I were a good actor and was handsome as Ms Vikander is beautiful, I’d be doing the same thing. No problem there.

Maybe it’s the fault of “The Raiders Of Ghost City” that I’ve arrived at the passé point in my life doing the franchise/serial thing at a theater near me. I try to like them. Really. I know that many other folks don’t have to try to enjoy them. It comes naturally for them, it seems. Moreover, given the super, extraordinary visual effects, sets, costumes, make up, magnificent cinematography, editing, grandiose music, etc, just think of all the important, creative jobs there are for people who need the film industry to put those groceries on the kitchen table. That rings through very clearly.

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryIt’s about here I need to write the thought that this doesn’t mean the new Star War feature isn’t a good one. I recommend it. I urge you to see it, for this lengthy, action-packed sci-fier is jammed with all those lovable, detestable and new characters as well as the swishing of great space ships at quite swift and even warp speeds carrying the grandest diversity of creatures you’ve ever seen on a big screen. And don’t forget all the magnificent, huuuge way out in space aircraft that lurk in dark and bright skies alike.

That Death Star is still big trouble in Rogue One. It’s where the story is going as Jen Erso (Vikander) and her band of rebels spring forth to bring it down — with a little help from Jen’s father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen). Everyone is really in a gnarly mood, just like outside the fancy, brand new cinema where I saw the film… in the real world.

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryJen’s ensemble includes Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). More familiar faces flash by too, but I don’t think I should say just whose, since some come into frame at the darndest moments. The robotic comic relief is still in the script too… for sure. The lines spoken by the machine “help” at the controls of spinning space ships guarantees laughter. I could hear a good deal of it; and added to the chorus of chuckles.

Each episode of “The Raiders Of Ghost City” always had a rather awkward, half-assed closing, what with the effort to make sure I came back next week to buy a ticket and see if Dennis Moore or Regis Toomey (not Philbin) will be dispatched by the vile raiders of a defeated gang of Rebs.

You’ll want to see the next installment of Star Wars, too — for the very same reason you came for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story during the coming holiday. And may the force of that motivation get you out and away from football games for a while to see it.

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Gary Chew
Gary Chew was a classical music host, programmer and producer on Capital Public Radio’s KXPR 88.9FM, Sacramento for 18 years. He retired in January 2007. Read more about Gary's long and storied career here.