‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna
2 (out of 5) Globes
In “Rogue One,” there’s no classic “Star Wars” fanfare, no drab text crawl ascending into the horizon. After the “A long time ago” jazz, we’re — with an actual “boom!” — right in the thick of it. If you found “The Force Awakens” slavishly faithful to the original trilogy (but still delightful), you might get excited. Maybe this prequel/spin-off — about the Rebel mission to procure plans for the first Death Star — will actually be its own beast, offering not what we want but something similar yet different. Maybe it won’t drown in fan service but look forward, even as it’s technically looking back in time. Maybe.
It takes a good while to realize this is a con. Or perhaps everyone gave up. But you can’t blame the big whiff that is “Rogue One” on those breathlessly reported and scary-sounding reshoots — the ones Disney ordered to make a tough and grim space war film more “Star Wars”-y. It’s not the dearth of originality that plagues every pore of “Rogue One,” it’s the lack of inspiration. Clumsily plotted and often flat-out stupid — halfway through, a key MacGuffin is lost simply because someone forgot to grab it, which is just lazy — “Rogue One” boasts thin characters played by great actors scampering about far too many planets with names that sound like obscure venereal diseases. It’s a “Star Wars” knockoff that happens to look a lot like a “Star Wars” movie.
We’re not allowed — legally, we think — to divulge much of the plot. That’s fine, because it quickly becomes no more than a bunch of stuff happening, as is the style of the time. Things don’t start off so bleak. A harrowing opener introduces us to young Jyn Erso, who will grow up to be played by talented Oscar-nominee Felicity Jones. Before that, she has to watch as her mother is killed by some fascist Imperial stooge (Ben Mendelsohn), who then kidnaps her scientist father (Mads Mikkelsen) to create the Death Star. Actually, the scene isn’t that harrowing. It ticks off all the boxes — dead mom, despairing father, traumatized kid — but as directed it’s curiously flat, lacking the life and humanity of “The Force Awakens.” Or, for that matter, of the 2014 “Godzilla.”