A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Nothing. The iconic opening title and scrawl is conspicuously missing from the start of Rogue One, and this is the first of many reasons why “Star Wars” was not the start of the film’s title, but was tacked on to the end. What’s remarkable about this is how many artefacts and persons from the Star Wars universe can pervade the setting, without it feeling like a Star Wars film. The feeling that I did get from the first two thirds of the film is one of wasted potential.

It would be fine for this film to stand on its own in this way if the screen writing were not a complete mess. It tries to do too much in terms of characters for the time available in a single film, and ends up feeling hollow in this regard, because practically none of them are developed by the end of it. The only character which is really developed in any way is the lead, who starts out with an arc that could have been very well utilised, but then switches suddenly into hero mode.

All that said, this film is far better than The Force Awakens, which in itself does not say much because TFA was ridiculous. Unlike its predecessor, this leverages nostalgia very well, at least in the closing stages. When certain ships jump onto the screen near the end, it abruptly begins to feel like a Star Wars film, but only by association, since it’s a very familiar scene to fans. It maintains this energy all the way to the final scene, which is guaranteed to leave most fans with a high.

The cinematography, again, was spot-on. Like TFA it very much manages to capture the look of Star Wars, this time even going so far as to emulate the look of film stock from the late seventies. It’s just sad that with all the resources and talent available, a writer could not be found to capture the soul of this now-struggling franchise.

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