Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Director: Gareth Edwards
- Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
- Distribution: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelson, Ben Mendelsohn
- Release Date: 15th December 2016
- Runtime: 133 Minutes
A Long Time Ago…
Rogue One: A Star Wars story is the newest instalment in the Star Wars franchise. It marks the first of the new ‘anthology’ line of films happening in between the standard episodic Star Wars films. The film acts as a brand new story in the universe and a bridge gap between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope.
Rogue One is now the second Star Wars film we have had in the past 12 months which for a lifelong Star Wars mega fan like me is a massive deal and a blessing in disguise just like a rogue Rebel. Excitement for this film was always incredibly high from the moment this film was announced and from my opinion it did not disappoint one bit. I managed to be one of the few lucky people to see this film a few days early at the UK premiere so I’ve had time to search my feelings for my opinion of this film and it has not fallen to the Dark Side once since seeing it.
The premise of this film is one we all know about from hearing about it in A New Hope but we haven’t technically seen it yet until this film. The Rebel Alliance manage to find the location of the blueprints to the Empire’s galactic super weapon The Death Star and start a mission to recover these documents to help destroy this immerse force of power. What we don’t know is how they get this information or how this particular story pans out.
Empire of Dirt
We have a former Empire engineer living in hiding Galen Erso forced back into the Empire to continue work on the Death Star by the evil Orson Krennic but not before Galen can send his daughter Jyn into hiding with a veteran soldier of the Clone Wars Saw Gerrera. Once this simple premise is set up we get to the main bulk of the film.
Jyn is an adult bouncing around Empire detention camps/planets before being broke out by the Rebel Alliance and used to intercept information from a secret message her father has passed on in regards to the structural plans of the Death Star to help the Rebels from inside the Empire high command.
The plot is fairly rudimental from this point forward once all the main ground work is laid out. Empire completes work on Death Star, Rebels want it destroyed, Rebels put a team together to go rescue Galen and extract plans, plan doesn’t work and the Alliance give up hope, a small band of Rebels rebel against their orders and orchestrate a massive stealth mission to steal the plans, big battle ensures etc.
The main worry with this film was the fact we know how A New Hope starts and the thought was always there that there wouldn’t be enough depth or suspense to carry over into a film we ultimately know the outcome too. This was a very wrong opinion. Even though we do know the end result the fact that the majority of characters here where completely original meant it feels as suspenseful and exciting as you would want out of a giant Space-Opera like Star Wars.
Many Bothans Died
The main cast is fantastic throughout and overall the casting is phenomenal in this film. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is a very hardened street smart lead character with a troubled past and mixed emotions. Diego Luna is very mysterious throughout as Cassian Andor and has the biggest character turnaround in the film with coming across as quite shady and untrustworthy at the beginning but by the end he’s a far more sympathetic and likeable character you can relate too.
Mads Mikkelson as Galen Erso is a fiercely loyal and proud character throughout playing it perfectly as the Yin to Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic’s Yang who just wants to succeed in helping the Empire carve more of an evil shadow over the Galaxy for the Empire. The absolute standouts though are three of the side characters to the story. Alan Tudyk as K-2SO the reprogrammed Imperial droid is the perfect comic relief throughout the film with some brilliant one-liners and Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen as Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus are the pure badass warriors in the film who excel in every fight scene they have.
There are a few prominent cameos from the prequel trilogy and original trilogy throughout the film which I won’t go into spoilers for as the reveals are great fun to see but the Vader material here truly shows how powerful and deadly he really was and only enhances the legend of the character. The cameo based characters use a fantastic blend of CGI to recreate real life actors which is amazing to see and despite a few rough shots feel great and like the character is actually there in the film which works wonders when you consider who these characters and actors are. It’s a nice little bit of fan service which will harken back to feelings of nostalgia from the original trilogy.
That’s no moon
Visually this is another stunning entry in the Star Wars universe and like The Force Awakens before it perfectly incorporates practical effects with digital effects which really make the locations and settings pop on the screen. The use of the actual practical effects makes the worlds feel real and alive and add greatly to the overall feel of the film, something the prequels missed out on completely.
No shots are more true of this than the final act showdown on the planet Scariff on the beaches with Rebels, Stormtroopers, Deathtroopers, X-Wings, TIE Fighters and AT-ATs raining fire down on each other in one of the best sci-fi battle scenes ever seen on film.
In regards to the score it did feel very strange to see one of these films without the standard John Williams score but overall with the darker nature of the film it really wouldn’t of fit. Instead we get a fantastic haunting score by Michael Giacchino which fits the tone perfectly. He manages to not only create a far darker set of music but at the same time keep what instantly is a very Star Wars feel to the soundtrack which is no easy task.
Overall I find it hard to think of any negatives really from my initial reaction bar a few choice lines of dialogue from certain characters but ultimately this film has succeeded in being the prequel film we deserved originally. Star Wars since returning last year is back in a big bad way with now two huge blockbusters which have been fantastically received both by critics and fans alike and if this is the quality of the spin off films I have 100% faith in the force that the Han Solo origin film will be another masterpiece waiting to happen.
- Manages to create a fantastic original story out of a plot point we ultimately know the ending too
- Fantastic casting choices throughout with Mads Mikkelson, Ben Mendelsohn and Alan Tudyk as the standouts
- Visually stunning and beautiful location shots specifically Scariff and Jedha
- Haunting and chilling score which still encapsulates the Star Wars feel