Now that Star Wars is an annual event, going to see the latest film on opening night is becoming a family tradition. The Science Museum has an excellent Imax screen and it's a great cinema to go see the films with other nerds. To give fair warning this is me jotting down how I feel about the new Star Wars film. If you haven't seen it some of my thoughts might spoil the film for you, so if your worried don't read this until you have.
I enjoyed Rogue One, much more than I thought I was going to. The teasers were great but later trailers had some very hammy dialogue, "Rebelions are built on hope" springs to mind. I loved the space fights, I could happily watch hours of X-Wings strafing Star Destroyers. I thought that Jyn Erso's story hit some great Star Wars beats even whilst still feeling fresh.
There was a grittiness to the action and a moral greyness that was unusual for the series, Captain Andor openly regrets the bad things he has done in the name of the Rebellion. Galen Erso collaborates with the Empire in it's quest to develop a super weapon that will later kill billions. He is partially redeemed by revealing the Death Star's existence and starting the Rebels down the road to defeating it. This is ethically complicated stuff for Star Wars characters.
Director Crennic was superb. Ambitious, vain and ruthless. He even pulled off the Cape.
Which brings me onto what I liked the least about Rogue One. Why on earth did they do a CG Peter Cushing, the first time he turns around is arresting and almost works. It at least made me question how they did it. If it had been kept to a cameo they might have got away with it but his uncanny visage appears far too often. This and the subsequant included footage from the original Star Wars jolted me out of what was largely a very immersive film.
I also felt that despite some strong visual design that the main characters, Jyn aside, lacked fleshing out. It is telling that in writing this up I had to look up who Cassian Andor was, their names and actions are forgettable.
The first steps of Star Wars as a "cinematic universe" have been solid. Rogue One is nowhere near as good as The Force Awakens which captured so much of what I love about Star Wars. But it does round out the other films. It's the sort of film I dreamed about when I was 10 years old, more Vadar, X-wings and At-At's. I'm sure I'll watch it many times over.
P.S. Blue Leader best leader.