Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the new film from Walt Disney Pictures that continues the intergalactic space-war-opera adventures set forth by George Lucas more than 40 years ago. Rogue One, however, is essentially the film that started it all, a prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope.
The film starts us off on the planet Lah’mu, where Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and his family, have lived for an undisclosed amount of time. Galen has a past and it seems to have caught up to him. Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is, for all intents and purposes, a weapons developer for the Empire. He wants Erso back with him to work on new weaponry for the Empire. What Krennic did not see was that before landing on Lah’mu, Galen his young daughter, Jyn, in a cave outside of the landing party. With Galen gone to work for the Empire maybe Jyn will have a chance for a better life outside of the Empire’s clutches.
15 years later, Jyn, now grown up and played Felicity Jones, is a young woman not to be messed with. She has also been raised by Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker), a higher-up in the Rebel Alliance. Along with a new group of rag-tag “Rebels” they’re to join up and go on the ultimate mission of infiltration in order to retrieve plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon: The Deathstar.” The Rebellion is made up of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang). It’s definitely a packed house.
Since Rogue One takes place prior to everything that we have now known (with exception to the horrid prequels, but that’s a rant for another time) about the SW universe, one will instantly feel at home with this new film. There are enough characters with special abilities and traits that one should not have a problem gravitating towards their favorite “action figure.” Speaking of action figures – we will also get glimpses and cameos from epic characters of films past.
As far as comparisons to last year’s The Force Awakens go, I prefer Rogue One due to it having a fresher sensibility. The Force Awakens clearly used A New Hope as the template and that came off like a cheat. Rogue One is fresh and plays more like a standard war movie where the stakes seem much greater as opposed to going through the standard motions. Granted, I called the fate of our heroes in Rogue One due to a dialogue snippet featured in A New Hope that pretty much spells out what happens to them. Let’s just say MY expectations were tempered, as well.
As far as the film’s technical merits, it was great. The palette had a washed out look in certain scenes, but then it would turn into a vibrant one towards the end. It all depends on the locales and planets that we happen to be on that dictate what the overall design will look like. The action itself was great and intense – Donnie Yen gets several moments to shine and steals every scene he’s in, which is great – he’s been long overdue for some mainstream recognition in the West and I hope he gets it thanks to this film. As far Jyn goes, she’s fantastic and can somewhat be considered on the same wavelength as Rey (from The Force Awakens) in that she’s tough, smart, witty, has also dealt with loss and can only internalize her experiences and use them to stay alive. She’s an easy character to fight alongside.
In addition to the main plot line we also get a couple of scenes featuring Darth Vader, who you may have already seen in the trailers and promotional spots. He steals the show in every shot that he’s in and is also once again voiced by James Earl Jones. You will also see many small cameos from other Star Wars characters from that particular timeline and I should say that some of the CGI used for certain characters was quite shocking, but shocking in a good way.
In any event, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is definitely worthy of your time and money. Please keep in mind that there is a 70mm IMAX version playing in cinemas, but it’s not readily available. Check your local listings for more information. I can’t wait for the Blu-ray!
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