Review: ‘Rogue One’ Is About Half Of A Great Star Wars Movie

rogue one

Before Rogue One, which is aptly subtitled “A Star Wars Story,” even begins, it suffers from a remarkable weakness no other movie in this franchise has ever had. A real purpose.

It’s a standalone prequel to the original trilogy, filling the gap (and space) between Episodes III and IV, but it does nothing of note beyond that, except to elaborate on a minor plot point that sets up A New Hope, in the form of a ragtag suicide squad on a mission to retrieve the Death Star plans so Luke Skywalker can find them in a droid days later.

All the while, Rogue One presents side character archetypes as protagonists to a well-realized war movie, one without much of the Force or any stunning lightsaber duels to balance against the space battles. It’s exactly one-half of what we love about Star Wars, but lavishly treated with respect for fans who’ve always yearned for a shift in emphasis toward the “Wars” in “Star Wars.” Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty) managed to make this universe feel big again, and one of the film’s greatest strengths is its sense of location and a visual consistency begging for a better story to match it.

There’s no doubting this is the galaxy far far away, just taking place a bit earlier than what George Lucas and his team established aesthetically 40 years ago. The colors, technology, and overall atmosphere are masterfully recreated, less so however with the CGI-rendered actors we recognize from A New Hope as well, not that they’re the prime focus of what’s essentially an ensemble film. Less recreated, however, are any deep or enriching characters to serve as a compelling thread throughout this surprisingly complex (and fast) war drama.

rogue one

It seems at one point that Disney and Lucasfilm intended to give a weightier role to Jyn Erso, played rather straight here by Felicity Jones, once again one of about three women in a Rebellion consisting of hundreds of men onscreen, which is a noticeable step back from the more balanced Force Awakens.

Much of the material used in the trailers for Erso seem to have been shifted in those pesky reshoots, so that the rest of the “Rogue One” rebels too rebellious for the rebellion could have thematically interesting moments of their own. That was the intention, anyway. Instead, even the most creative characters are quite thin, falling short of what’s done so successfully in Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a more cohesive and ultimately satisfying “misfit ensemble in space” movie.

Rogue One is a classic example of what happens when a beautiful and polished movie filled with colorful characters fails to come together by the third act, which is more bombastic and methodical than anything epic or narratively  fulfilling. The story builds to something far more grand in scope, while also personal in its individual characters’ struggles against the overwhelming Empire, but instead, everything simply fizzles out and fades to the distance to make way for New Hope matters, muting the questionable triumph for these rebels, instead of what the dialogue suggests we ought to feel for them.

rogue one

That said, Rogue One is an easy sell for fans of Star Wars, who will love it anyway for everything that does work—like the complexities rendered for a tougher, less forgiving Rebel Alliance and world-class sci-fi cinematography and sound mixing—and overlook what is sorely missing that would have made this good film actually great, or at least as memorable as something like The Force Awakens, a flawed movie that had a much easier time justifying itself.

Come for the snarky droid, stay for the blind Force monk, and prepare for one scene in particular toward the very end that will make you yearn to see a “real” Star Wars film.

Grade: B

Extra Credits:

  • Now I’m really worried about that Young Han Solo spinoff.
  • Better than the prequels, but that’s about it.
  • First Star Wars movie not scored by John Williams, which is pretty sad. But Michael Giacchino did a tremendous job, and this one has a main score I found much more memorable than in Force Awakens. Edit: I do wish, though, that the music matched the movie’s actual tone. I just don’t blame Giacchino.
  • Alan Tudyk as the aforementioned snark droid, K-2SO,  was easily the best character. Not just in terms of comic relief, but as the obvious heart of the team, similar to Tudyk’s “Wash” in Firefly.
  • Some of the cameos and Easter eggs are great. A handful are just pointless and completely unnecessary, similar to the prequels. Still, I won’t spoil any so you can view them as surprises. Not enough of this movie is a surprise, anyway.

    Thanks for reading this. Seriously. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. 

    Or just say hello on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Snarcasm: Supreme Leader Snoke Is Secretly Every Character in Star Wars

snoke is vader

This post contains several spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Oh sure, people liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But words can’t describe how much people undyingly love coming up with random theories about the movies that offer absolutely no depth outside of: Look! I was right all along and look at me and stuff!

Granted, I posted a theory about TFA just the other day, but at least what I wrote was a character analysis about the film with actual evidence and thought put into it.

What we’ve been getting lately? Well, just read the headline:

Is Supreme Leader Snoke Actually Darth Vader?

There’s an old saying among us Internet writers who’ve been at this for a while. That is, if your headline is phrased as a question, the answer is 99% going to be probably not.

Miraculously, this particular headline’s answer is a resounding are you joking?

Evan Valentine from proposes this theory, which has gained an expected amount of traction among people like me who accidentally hit the Star Wars clickbait on Facebook thinking it’s actually a recipe video from Tasty.

In a twist that would blindside many,

…for all the wrong reasons…

is it possible that the “big bad” of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens is in fact a villain that we’re quite familiar with at this point?

Put $30 down for another “He’s Darth Plagueis!” from someone who thinks they’re the first person to suggest this.

A rumor has been rumbling that the ominously massive Supreme Leader Snoke, the puppet master of both Kylo Ren and the First Order, may in fact be none other than the first Sith audiences came to know, Darth Vader!

Easy, Robot Chicken version of Shyamalan.

Also, how is Snoke “ominously massive?” It was clear from the movie that this was just an enlarged hologram, reminiscent of how the Emperor was shown to be a massive floating head in Empire Strikes Back.

While there have been a number of rumors ranging from Snoke being Darth Plagueis,

$30 richer!

 could it be possible that Snoke is a revived Anakin Skywalker, returning from the grave to try once again to “bring balance to the Force”?

How many times is Evan going to ask us what is and isn’t possible? Of course it’s possible, just like if Rian Johnson decided to devote 30 minutes of Episode XIII to a Jar Jar Binks dance number on Cloud City featuring the alien from Mac and Me.

But this is the Internet, so Evan’s main argument is going to be “Well, you internally said it was possible, so that means evidence.”

The biggest piece of evidence we are witness to are the scars on Supreme Leader Snoke’s head and face, pointed out to us by fan Joey Garza.

Who? Seriously, if you’re going to credit this ripoff, at least link to whatever Reddit post Joey threw this in.

Snoke is humanoid, albeit a completely computer generated creation for the film, but seemingly has scars and wounds that are almost identical to the ones that Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker had underneath his mask and helmet, revealed during the finale of Return of the Jedi.

Hm, OK. This is Snoke:

snoke is vader


This is Darth Vader (unmasked):

snoke is vader

Their scars are not “almost identical.” They don’t even have similar-looking heads or facial structures. Evan and the other perpetrators of this “theory” just looked at one scar and said “Close enough for half the Internet to believe this!”

Obviously, we know how Anakin received his scars, but we have no clue as to what happened with Snoke.

But who needs watching the movies over the next few years to find out. We have to pointlessly speculate with little-to-know evidence at our disposal. That’ll show Disney for trying to surprise us with silly things like plots and writing.

Their placement and appearance is downright shockingly identical

If you’re looking through the goggles of Maz Kanata, maybe.

While Snoke and Vader’s scars are similar, it could also be a method used by Snoke in order to have gotten closer to Ben Solo, eventually turning him into the monster that is Kylo Ren. Rather than actually being Vader, Snoke could have modeled his appearance after Vader’s to play on the young, inexperienced force wielder’s admiration for Anakin Skywalker

So the guy “pretending to be Vader” is going by a different name…and says nothing while Kylo Ren worships the helmet of the real Vader. Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Darth Vader could potentially have come back, leading a new empire to finish what Palpatine had started in the original trilogy.

Did…did you see Return of the Jedi? Like you know what that movie is? The one where Darth Vader turns good in the end (late spoiler) and kills Palpatine?

The Plagueis story in the prequels leads credence to Vader returning from the grave,

Oh yes, the story of the Sith Lord who could prevent death in others, but failed to prevent his own death. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what lead Vader to reviving himself.

 This is however 30 years after the original trilogy, and Vader was looking quite worse for wear when all was said and done then, imagine how he’d look now and you might think of a figure close to Supreme Leader Snoke.

Yeah, especially after Luke and friends burned his entire corpse. But don’t let that little tidbit get in the way of your “evidence.” There has to be a reason, after all, why Hayden Christensen is the actor who shows up as a Force Ghost instead of Sebastian Shaw. He was busy reviving himself thinking, “Oh no! I do love Palpatine and need to turn Han’s son against him! I guess this will take 30 years.”

Kylo Ren’s devotion to both Darth Vader and Supreme Leader Snoke would also lead to the idea that they were one in the same, 

I’ll be sure to let my grandfather know he’s let me down for not being Tom Brady.

During all the events of the original trilogy, there was never even a hint that there was some older Sith who was biding his time, so the idea that Snoke is an already existing character isn’t a fantastical one to be sure.

In other words, Evan wants this to be true because having new characters would undermine the original trilogy. Seriously, that is what would undermine the original trilogy, not completely reworking the motivations of the saga’s main character.

And that’s the theory. I know, I could have easily done a takedown of “Rey is a reincarnated Anakin” or “Finn is the son of Yoda.” But for whatever reason, Supreme Leader Snoke has become one of the lynchpins of Star Wars speculation, outside of which character Rey is somehow related to.

Is it because they love Star Wars and want to share their ideas about how everything will play out?


Sure, maybe like two of them.

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Make Way For The New ‘Star Wars’ Canon With These Expanded Universe Novels

When Disney announced that a new trilogy of Star Wars films was on the way, along with various spinoffs, many of us were wondering whether or not the new films would fall in line with the numerous expanded universe novels and comics that have been consumed by fans since the 80s.

Well, our speculation can be somewhat put to rest with the release of these “New Canon” books that promise to adhere to the storyline of the upcoming films. Disney is also promising to borrow generously from other sources of expanded universe content, just not completely.

The novels are below, and if you want to keep tabs, check out the Facebook page for “Star Wars Books.”

Novel #1: A New Dawn

NewDawnThe first novel, by best-selling author John Jackson Miller, will help launch the new TV series, Star Wars: Rebels. Set between the Star Wars prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, Rebels will detail the events that lead to the formation of the Rebel Alliance, as seen in “A New Hope.”

The book, A New Dawn, is the prequel to Rebels, as it explains how two of the main characters (Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla) first meet each other. The book will be released in both print and eBook format on September 2, 2014.

Novel #2: Tarkin

StarWarsTarkinAuthor James Luceno will be helming this book that delves into the apparently rich back story of Grand Moff Tarkin, one of Star Wars’ oldest villains. Best known for his role in “A New Hope,” Tarkin has been explored as a character in plenty of other expanded universe content, which explains why James Luceno (a veteran of the expanded universe) has been given the task of cementing Tarkin’s origins into canon. Coming November 4, 2014.

Novel #3: Heir to the Jedi

StarWarsHeirtotheJediAs excited as I am to delve into the first two novels, nothing compares to the promise of a new adventure featuring Luke Skywalker within the original trilogy. “Heir to the Jedi” tells a brand new story in between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” with Luke Skywalker’s Jedi destiny front and center. It will be fun to explore what was going on from Luke’s perspective in the time leading up to one of cinema’s greatest revelations. The book will be available January 2015.

Novel #4: Lords of the Sith

StarWarsLordsoftheSithNow here’s an interesting premise: Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader trying to survive in the depths of space, relying solely on each other? The fragile relationship between these two sith lords has always been intriguing, and “Lords of the Sith” promises to fully explore that concept in this survival story of villains. The book will be available in March of 2015.


  1. Which new Star Wars novel are you looking forward to the most?

  2. How do you think these stories will impact the new canon?

  3. Which expanded universe stories do you wish Disney would include into the new canon?

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