Rogue One (2016) Directed by Gareth Edwards. Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones.. IMDB says: “The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.”
The Star Wars legacy is something that has been built up over multiple generations ever since George Lucas’ A New Hope hit screens in 1977. Over the past 39 years the saga has become a societal staple worldwide and each year more and more people grow to love the legacy that one man came up with all those years ago. Despite some of the controversial changes and additions that were made with the late 90’s re-release of the original saga as well as the prequel trilogy which still have most die hard fans cringing, we still held out hope that we would once again get a Star Wars film we could fall in love with.
Finally, in December 2015 fans finally got to bear witness to a new episode in the Star Wars saga, continuing where we left off with some old friends and even meeting some new characters along the way. J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens was just the film fans needed to be drawn back into the Star Wars universe and reminded of what Star Wars could be once again, allowing us to forget for a bit about the days when Hayden Christensen was involved in Star Wars in any way. The Force Awakens was by far not the best film in the series, but it was the film that fans needed to be made comfortable in the universe once again. This is most likely why the script eerily resembled a familiar story we had once seen with A New Hope.
After another full year of waiting and anticipation, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is about to arrive from “a long time ago from a galaxy far, far away…” Rogue One is the first in a series of spin-off films that will undoubtedly fill in a few gaps between events and characters that have occurred within the saga.
Rogue One tells the tale of an escaped Imperial pilot who flees with details of a fatal flaw within the Empire’s new weapon, the Death Star. The Rebels rescue Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter of the Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has been begrudgingly creating the weapon for the Empire for years and ultimately built the flaw into its design. Jyn and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) go off in search of the pilot to extract the information and meet a few obstacles along the way. Ultimately, after acquiring the details they must form a ragtag team to fly to Scarif and steal the blueprints to the Death Star and ultimately send the information back to the Rebels.
One of the standout characters that, much like BB8, fans adore and find absolutely entertaining is K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). This wise-cracking droid offers the films comedic relief and will leave fans with several quotable lines for years to come. Jones and Luna are both fantastic as a leading duo and both give amazing performances on screen. Also, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and sidekick Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) are a great addition to the group after they team up on Jedha. Yen is blind in the film and in one scene in particular makes you quickly realize how badly you’ve always wanted to see a blind man take out a trove of Stormtroopers using martial arts.
All the characters in the film are great, but where they really shine is in the fact that they all work together and are necessary as part of the team that makes up Rogue One. We even get quite a few crossover characters including Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly)…among others that remain to be kept secret until you see for yourself.
Visually the film is beautiful, and also equally as dirty and gritty as it needs to be. This film is a war movie, and it has no trouble showing this in tone and action. The in-space aerial fighter scenes are absolutely stunning as are that grittier shots of beach invading combat. Even towards the beginning when Jyn is still in a transport vehicle, the stormtroopers accompanying her are absolutely filthy and look like they’ve been through hell. Edwards has done an amazing job crafting this film visually making it feel like Star Wars, even if it’s not the happiest of times for the galaxy. There is one visual choice that seemed a bit overdone when recreating the character of Grand Moff Tarkin, which was cool to see again but also clearly a CGI rendition of the character and awkward at best.
The act and themes of war are clearly present as this is basically a Star Wars war film. There are massive amounts of battle scenes, death and heartache included in Edwards’ trip to the galaxy, making the film feel much more grown up. Combine these visuals with the amazing score from Michael Giacchino and you feel right at home.
If you haven’t seen the trailers then you wouldn’t know this but yes, Darth Vader does make an appearance or two. His scenes are tense and powerful, and you’re reminded why he is the most feared man in the galaxy.
Overall, Rogue One is just the film you wanted it to be. A tale you kind of always knew pieces of but never were able to see the whole picture… until now. The Force Awakens was our chance to dip our toes back into the Star Wars galaxy. Rogue One is a full on cannonball back into the saga we all fell in love with all those many years ago.
FTS SCORE: 94%
Rogue One is in theaters on Dec 16.