Rogue One: A Star Wars Story earns rave reviews

Ben Bussey
UK Movies Writer
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (credit: Lucasfilm)

Looks like the Force is very strong with this one.

Landing in cinemas this week, the reviews embargo on ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ has at last been lifted, and the overall reaction is very positive with many declaring it one of the best in the series to date – some even suggesting it might be the best.

Directed by Gareth Edwards (‘Godzilla’), ‘Rogue One’ is a prequel to the original 1977 ‘Star Wars’ (AKA ‘A New Hope’), and tells the story of how those technical details of the dreaded Death Star which Princess Leia uploaded into R2D2 were stolen in the first place.

It’s already tracking for opening weekend box office takings in the region of $300 million – but then, there was never much question it would be a commercial success. ‘Star Wars’ hasn’t always won over the critics too, but for the most part ‘Rogue One’ is doing just that.

Here’s a sample of the praise the film is attracting thus far:

“I really think this could be my favorite of all of [the ‘Star Wars’ movies]. It’s certainly the grittiest, even using indie film technique like hand-held cameras, and also is the first one to play like a war picture… less space opera and more hybrid of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and ‘The Magnificent Seven.'” Pete Hammond, Deadline

“Definitely puts the war back into ‘Star Wars’… Loaded with more battle action than any of its seven predecessors, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story plays like a setup for the events in the 1977 original and, for the most part, does so quite entertainingly.” Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (credit: Lucasfilm)

“Director Gareth Edwards has finally made the first “Star Wars” movie for grown-ups… 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.” Peter Debruge, Variety

“Exhilarating, good-natured and enjoyable… really entertaining fantasy with fan-fiction energy and attack.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian 

“A bracing and dizzying marvel, propulsively pitched and even, I dare say, moving…. managing to mostly skip the plane of money-grabbing cynicism that the project seems built on, and offering up a soaring and sad and gripping adventure.” Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair 

“Crammed with fan service, but when fan service is done this well, there’s little to complain about and much to adore… Gareth Edwards has shown, with the first ‘Star Wars Story,’ that these spinoffs can have plenty of life in them, adding even more excitement to Star Wars’ huge modern resurgence. ” Eric Goldman, IGN

“This spin-off/prequel has the same primitive, lived-in, emotional, loopy, let’s-put-on-a-show spirit that made us fall in love with the original trilogy… alive and bursting with the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The fears that it would be a cash grab, or fall prey to the same traps the prequels fell into, can pass… ‘Rogue One’ isn’t your typical Star Wars film. But that’s its strongest quality, and what makes it an excellent bridge between the prequels and original trilogy.” Caitlin Petrakovitz, CNet

Felicity Jones and Diego Luna in ‘Rogue One’ (Credit: Lucasfilm)

Still, it isn’t all 100% positive, as these reviews reflect:

“Lobotomized and depersonalized… The script of “Rogue One” is so flat and inexpressive, the direction of the actors so methodical, as to render [the cast] nearly robotic and synthetic.” Richard Brody, The New Yorker 

“It seems more an act of homage to its predecessors than a film with a mind of its own… ‘Rogue One’ feels like a formulaic retread. It’s rousing and entertaining but the force isn’t really with it. You can’t escape the dispiriting feeling that we’ve seen it all before.” Geoffrey McNab, The Independent 

Even so, the good reviews easily outweigh the bad, enough for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ to currently sit on a more than respectable 81% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is in cinemas on Thursday, 15 December.

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