I recall when Mad Max: Fury Road was released, the critics' consensus on Rotten Tomatoes claimed that the film brought the franchise back to life. It's been approximately a year since Star Wars: The Force Awakens, was finally released after three years' of anticipation since Disney purchased the rights, but it would be insanely ignorant to claim that the Star Wars franchise hasn't been at the top of its game since the original trilogy was released in the late 70's and early 80's, and has exponentially increased in popularity with each succeeding year. So, when I watched Star Wars: Rogue One with the intention to write a review for the film, I continuously speculated on what one could claim of what this film has done for the franchise, and it's fairly simple. It's finally taken the franchise in a new direction since the original films. The Star Wars cinematic reinvigoration that's occurring is something I thought I'd never see. I always assumed that the Star Wars films were concluded after the universally hated Prequel Trilogy finished its run, but now that I'm 20 years old, and I'm observing these young children become Star Wars fanatics discussing Kylo Ren, Rey, and Fin on the same table of discussion as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia, I can't deny that the Sequel Trilogy, as well as the trilogy of anthology films that has been initiated by Rogue One, has changed the nature of our perception of Star Wars forever.
It's mostly unnecessary to comment on the cinematography and editing of this film. Except for some unique choices regarding the warfare near the end, and a brilliant scene in which the cinematography used to depict the Death Star's first execution and the editing of the scene that occurs along with it, the technical aspects of the film are standardized but good. The warfare scene I was referring to included the AT-AT Walkers first appearance. Rather than employ a cinematically powerful wide shot from the atmosphere surrounding the walkers, the film depicted the walkers from the perspective of the human characters, which built them as scarier and more intimidating.
The CG was above average to a good level, but it wasn't quite anything to write home about...or to write to Odyssey about, rather. It's Star Wars, which employs foreign worlds inhabited by foreign creatures. What do you expect from a Star Wars movie besides loads of CG? CG is so present in these new Star Wars movies, entire shots can be 90% CG, so it's really not something you exclusively notice about a Star Wars film. The worst aspect of the CG were the animations of original characters from the Original Trilogy, including Governor Tarkin and a young Princess Leia. Governor Tarkin was much more prevalent than Leia, so it makes sense that his CG was superior to Princess Leia, and I'll be the first to admit that his animation was stunning in the detail. They definitely captured the personality, features, mannerisms, and appearance of the late Peter Cushing, and, like I said the attention to detail was astonishing...BUT...was it really necessary? I understand that this film, which was a missing piece in between Episodes III and IV, warranted some fan service, including Darth Vader, Governor Tarkin (I guess?), and Princess Leia. I understand that whatever director is chosen to direct a Star Wars film doesn't want to simply create a piece of shameless fan service, and introduce his own characters, story, and ideas, but if he's going to feature Governor Tarkin so prominently, which is not Garreth Edwards' character, then why not feature Darth Vader, instead? Who isn't CG and is voiced by the original voice actor, himself? Edwards could have simply made Darth Vader his own character, and perhaps introduce some new facets to the character that doesn't undermine our perception of him, but constructs a new personification that fits his style of filmmaking. Leia, on the other hand, who was simply animated to appear as young as she did in the original films, should not have looked as bad as she did.
The characters were good, but to be honest I was much more interested in the background characters that accompanied the primary characters on their mission, including and especially K-2SO, a decidedly more self-sufficient and courageous version of C-3PO. He was just so interesting and colorful to watch, and when he was on screen, the film instantly became thoroughly entertaining. The narrative of the film was, as most have observed, decidedly darker, and possibly the darkest Star Wars film we've seen yet, out beating Revenge of the Sith and Empire Strikes Back. The story is actually uniquely intricate, and a plot point that the narrative centers around actually changed our perception of some of the plot points from A New Hope and in a good way!
Rogue One, in the end, was a much better film that I anticipated. I couldn't help but anticipate a manufactured piece of average to above-average fluff released to sell toys, merchandise, and of course, sell tickets, but with an exclusively darker tone, thematic choices, Rogue One is a worthy side-story that takes the Star Wars lore in new directions, providing us with new perceptions and perspectives regarding the continuous battle against the Imperials, seekers of dictatorship, and the dark side of the force.