This review contains spoilers.
Rogue One is another disappointment in the Star Wars franchise. It doesn’t have the excruciating moments of the prequels, it’s well made, and there is an assortment of cameos and references to other films, and not just Star Wars film. However, the referenced films include Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now, which are appropriate for this film’s dark tone. It’s not a fun film, and that makes the more humorous references and occasional jokes hard to enjoy.
The story emphasizes a series of battle scenes, and is not so much a glorification of war as a celebration of sacrifice. None of main characters survive: all of them have no regrets about their actions. This is a great propaganda film, showing beings of different species, races, ages, and genders all uniting to fight a common enemy. It might be moving if the sacrifices had any value, but they don’t. The mission of our heroes is to advance a plot to destroy the Death Star. We know the plot works, from Part IV A New Hope. We also know it didn’t work that well, because the Death Star is back again in Part VI, Return of the Jedi. An even bigger Death Star is central to Part VII, The Force Awakens. Perhaps the message is you cannot stop evil?
We also know that our heroes are not necessarily good guys, and they admit as much in this film. Meanwhile, the anonymous and purely evil bad guys of the original film have, by now, been well established as individuals, who are not all bad. We’ve seen Darth Vader as a whiny child, moody adolescent, and redeemed father. We’ve seen a Storm Trooper reject his path in The Force Awakens, and a former Empire pilot and his robot join the rebels in this film. This film also shows us that the architect of the Death Star was coerced into designing the weapon.
Finally, after seeing eight films, I’m starting to wonder just how bad the Empire is. Sure, at the top, they are evil and power hungry, but power is usually a means to an end, and it’s not clear what that end is. The Empire is dedicated to wiping out the rebellion, and the rebellion is dedicated to bringing down the Empire, but apart from that I’m not sure what either side wants. Why do we fight? Given that both sides have vague goals, the individuals on both sides have moral complexity, and we know this is just one meaningless effort in a war lasting generations, it’s hard to find the long battle sequences anything but dreary.
To add to the unease, one sequence takes place in a vaguely middle eastern setting (some of the filming was in Jordan), and another sequence takes place on beaches and among palm trees, referencing both WWII and Vietnam. Thanks to the magic of CGI, the characters played decades ago by Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher appear to be performed by the same actors, as they appeared back then. This is a disturbing use of effects, and not necessary. It’s easier to accept different actors playing the same character (such as James Bond), than it is to accept that an actor has not aged, or, in the case of Cushing, can appear in a film twenty-two years after death. Spaceships and monsters are products of the creative imagination, but re-animated actors are a denial of time and humanity.
Film classification agencies do not care about tone, or possible propaganda aspects of films. During and after World Wars I and II, these were important considerations. During the wars, films that humanized the enemy might be banned, but in the 1950s, war films that dwelt on past hatreds could also be banned. Until the 1960s, censors, for better or worse, tried to ensure films were good for society. That’s no longer part of the job. As per regulations, classification is based on objective measures such as how much violence or sex is shown.
Rogue One has no sex, though Ontario spotted a little cuddling. I was grateful the characters had that moment. What it does have is plenty of violence, of the more or less bloodless variety. Several agencies note “science fiction violence” because people being killed by lasers is somehow different than people being shot or blown up (which also happens a lot ).
The ratings are consistent across Canada and in most other jurisdictions. The consensus is that this is a film for the 12 and up set, though younger kids can go. In a couple of cases they can only go with their parents. Much of what is in the trailer is not in the film, which lets one wonder how much of that was deliberate misleading and how much was last minute editing. However, it’s a fair portrayal of the action scenes and other imagery.
|Maritimes||Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.||Violence|
|Quebec||The film is appropriate for viewing, rental or purchase by persons of all ages.||Déconseillé aux jeunes enfants||Dans l’espoir de sauver sa famille, le scientifique Galen Erso consent à se rendre aux soldats de l’Empire et à travailler à l’élaboration d’une arme capable d’anéantir des planètes. Malheureusement, seule sa fille Jyn parvient à échapper à l’ennemi et est élevée par un rebelle, Saw Gerrera. Des années plus tard, le pilote Bodhi Rook réussit à porter un message de Galen destiné à sa fille, qui lui donne la clé pour détruire sa création. Jyn, repérée par les forces de l’Alliance, accepte de joindre l’équipe du capitaine Cassian Andor, formée, entre autres, de Bohdi et du robot K-2SO. Ensemble, ils devront affronter les sbires d’Orson Krennic qui, au service de Darth Vader, se révélera impitoyable envers les opposants à l’Empire.|
|Ontario||Parental Guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.||Violence,
Not Recommended for Young Children
|– Scenes containing some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context
– Scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear
– Limited embracing and kissing
– Restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence
Theme and content may not be suitable for all children.
Not Recommended For Young Children
|Frequent non explicit violence|
|Alberta||Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.||Violence,
Not Recommended For Young Children
|Science Fiction/Action. Based on characters created by George Lucas. A disparate group of individuals (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, voice of Alan Tudyk) are drawn together to steal the plans to a powerful weapon.
|British Columbia||Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children although there is no age restriction.||Violence||The following were determinative to the classification decision:
Several scenes of violence depicting physical assault, weapons and/or injury.
|MPAA (U.S.A.)||PG-13||Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.||Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action.|
|BBFC||No one younger than 12 may see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.||Moderate violence||
Some versions of this film are displayed in the 3D or IMAX format and some younger children may find them a more intense experience.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is a sci-fi action adventure in which a team of rebels embark upon a dangerous mission to steal the plans to a powerful weapon.
Violence: There are frequent gunfights, use of hand-held weapons, explosions and aerial dogfights between spaceships. Blood and injury detail is limited and brief.
Occasional scenes of mild threat include an interrogation and gun threat.
|Australia||Children under 15 may legally access this material because it is an advisory category. However, M classified films and computer games may include classifiable elements such as violence and nudity of moderate impact that are not recommended for children under 15 years.||Science fiction violence|
|Ireland||Films classified 12A have been deemed appropriate for viewers of twelve and over. However, they can also be seen by younger children – provided they are accompanied by an adult who has deemed the film appropriate viewing for that child.|
Films and games with an M label can be sold, hired, or shown to anyone. Films with an M label are more suitable for mature audiences.
|Hong Kong||IIA||Not Suitable for Children||Contains some extended sequences of mild violence and mild shocking scenes.|
|Korea||Viewing for 12 years and over||Theme, Violence, Horror|
|Dove Foundation (USA)||Dove “Family-Approved”
For Ages 12 and Over
Violence: Several explosions, dog fights between space ships; Imperial Walkers destroy buildings, ships and people; people are killed with laser blasts with very little blood seen; people are choked; a light saber is used to repel weapons firing and the repelling kills some people.
Drugs: A cantina scene where it is possible some of the drinks are alcoholic beverages.
Nudity: A character is seen in a fluid tank and just his upper chest and face is seen.
Other: Betrayal by some characters; death and grief; tension between characters.
Click the name of the jurisdiction for more details about the classification (if available).