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Rogue One Review

About one to three times a year (there really isn't a rule for it), a movie comes out that we feel is deserving of a review for its popularity on the movie-going public. In most cases, these movies are of the scifi or action variety (again, no rules) with little to no horror to speak of. Yet, their impact on our lives as fans of film in general lure us into a desire, or even a need, to give our two-cents. When it came to Rogue One, we just couldn't resist putting in our opinion.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first in a projected numerous amount of standalone films that are based in the Star Wars universe. As the guinea pig for this unprecedented approach to the cinematic mythos, Rogue One followed a tale that many are familiar with. This story takes place between Episode 3 and Episode 4, bridging the two with the tale of how the schematics, and thereby weakness, of the Death Star were obtained and transmitted to the rebel forces.

It isn't an uncommon sentiment, but it is still one that can spawn hatred among some Star Wars fans; I didn't like Force Awakens. It rarely hit on any notes in its homage to the original trilogy, by either missing the mark or aiming for the bullseye so many times it became predictable and formulaic. On top of that, it lacked the character and style...the atmosphere...that is innate in that original trilogy. Force Awakens wasn't the only film to struggle with this. It was a big problem for the prequel trilogy as well. But Rogue One...it found the sweet spot between connecting with the old films without pandering or ripping them off.

Rogue One is easily the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy. Such a statement isn't exactly a vote of confidence for many movie patrons, who could barely get through those four films once. But Rogue One isn't just a notch above the prequel trilogy and Force Awakens, it is arguably in the class with the originals. From the dialogue to the characters, from the treatment of cinematography to the effects work, the film feels like the updated version of the original films. And it didn't have to sacrifice story and script to reach audiences. It was smart. Something that hasn't been said about a Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back.

This film had focus on all the right things at all the right times. It wasn't scared to slow things down and let the story and characters develop. It wasn't afraid to keep the action sequences tight-knit until the final act. It didn't tremble at the thought of making each character matter to you and have a reason for their motivations. It wanted you to care about every situation, just like A New Hope did. It was a breath of fresh air and a confidence boost to know that there are directors and writers out there that know they can still make an action-packed scifi thrill ride with substance that doesn't have to rush through its key elements just to "get to the good part audiences want to see". Because when the story doesn't feel rushed, and each character is lovable, you actually care during the action sequences much more than you would otherwise.

But...Mr. Sickle...can our horror appetites be satisfied in any way? With the overload of on-screen death in this film, there was obviously little wriggle room for any scenes of intense violence (though X-Men Apocalypse certainly pushed those boundaries more than any PG-13 movie in recent memory). And while you can expect some tense moments, the film's heavy attention on the balance between the dramatic and the lightheartedness that embodies the good of the original trilogy produces few moments that can quench your horror thirsts.

I wanted to watch it again hours after it sizzled in my brain. I can tell you right now, I had no such sentiments following Force Awakens.

© 2020 Sickle and Efrit | Dalton Vanhooser & Kyle Hagan