Walt Disney Pictures has already had a record-breaking year at the box office, and they still have one last major release before 2016 comes to a close. We speak of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first spinoff anthology film set in the galaxy far, far away. Though the movie is not expected to post the same kind of numbers as last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (figures few can reach), it still should be another very profitable endeavor for Lucasfilm. Early projections indicate a domestic opening weekend in excess of $130 million, with the worldwide debut anywhere between $250 – 380 million.
In addition to being commercial successes, another similarity many of Disney’s major releases have shared this year is the fact that they’ve been well-received critically. The likes of Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and others were able to scale their heights in part because they generated strong word-of-mouth. Rogue One seemed poised to join these ranks following the premiere, where many attendees raved about what they saw. Now, the official verdict is coming in with the lifting of the professional review embargo.
We have collected some SPOILER FREE excerpts for your reading convenience. Those who are interested in reading the full reviews ahead of time can click on the corresponding links included with each snippet.
THR – Todd McCarthy
Rogue One definitely puts the war back into Star Wars. It may call itself rogue, but this first stand-alone feature in the series officially unconnected with any of the previous entries fits comfortably in the universe George Lucas birthed 40 years ago. Loaded with more battle action than any of its seven predecessors, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story plays like a set-up for the events in the 1977 original and, for the most part, does so quite entertainingly.
Coming Soon – Scott Chitwood
Overall, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a big success and bodes well for further standalone adventures. Gareth Edwards did a fantastic job when a lot of other directors turned tail and ran the other direction. I think fans and general audiences alike will both enjoy it and it’s well worth seeing on the big screen.
Variety – Peter Debruge
Still, between epic battles featuring scores of familiar spaceships and the genuine thrill of hearing composer Michael Giacchino riff on John Williams’ classic score, there’s no denying that the film belongs to the creative universe Lucas established. This is the rebellion as it is experienced in the trenches. Younger audiences will be bored, confused, or both. But for the original generation of “Star Wars” fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, “Rogue One” is the prequel they’ve always wanted.
Comic Book – Lucas Siegel
If the main goal for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was to create something different in the franchise, bringing a true war movie to this world and establishing that there’s more to it than the Skywalker family, consider that goal 100% achieved. While there are a few missteps and things that can be picked apart, ultimately, none of those things took away any level of enjoyment.
Collider – Matt Goldberg
Through Rogue One, we see a more recognizable conflict tinged with darkness that feels real rather than darkness that just wants to gritty up the joint so that people will take the movie seriously. While the film suffers from plotting issues that make the narrative feel abrupt and halting at points, what Rogue One accomplishes in terms of tone and concept make up for its deficiencies.
/Film – Peter Sciretta
Rogue One is thrilling, an action-packed adventure in a chapter that we never imagined we would ever see on screen. It’s a fantastic trip to new worlds within a galaxy we love, adding to the mythology without having to be beholden to the Skywalker legacy as a focal point.
Deadline – Pete Hammond
Director Gareth Edwards who revitalized the Godzilla franchise , has done the same here with a rousing and wholly entertaining take that proves you don’t have to go along with the recipe in order to serve up a satisfying meal for fans and non-fans alike.
While most are in agreement that this is another good Star Wars film, Rogue One‘s exact level of quality is up for debate. The most-commonly cited negative in the reviews were plotting and characterization (including Jyn Erso) issues, which may or may not have been the result of the film’s extensive reshoots. Even though the film overall is enjoyable, some felt the narrative wasn’t as tightly constructed as it could have been and certain members of the ensemble are interesting on the surface level without being explored further. That said, the critics agree that Edwards successfully broke Star Wars tradition with a blockbuster that moves the franchise in an exciting new direction, underscored by great set pieces and action. Of the new characters, K-2SO is the runaway MVP, as just about everyone praised Alan Tudyk’s mo-cap performance as the sarcastic droid.
Another frequent complaint by some outlets was that Rogue One is geared more towards fans than general audiences. Some reviews proclaim that the spinoff is one of the best (if not the best) Star Wars films yet, and others feel there isn’t much there for the uninitiated to latch on to. Given the size of the Star Wars fan base, this shouldn’t prove to be too big a detriment to the movie’s longterm prospects, but after The Force Awakens was criticized for arguably having one too many callbacks, it’s interesting to consider that Rogue One has the same “deficiency.” Still, from the sound of it Edwards was able to make his film stand on its own merits with a unique tone that’s an encouraging sign for future Star Wars anthologies. The consensus is that Rogue One is good and entertaining, though not perfect; and after all the rumors about reshoots, fans will be pleased to hear that.
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