Star Wars fever is back, just a year after Episode VII. Where does Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fit into the universe? Also, how does it stand up to the main films? No spoilers here, so let’s get into it.
Rogue One is Different
Rogue One is not the epic that the other Star Wars films can claim to be. This is not to say that it’s a bad film; it simply feels different. That difference is made very clear straight away. After the familiar “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”, we jump right into space. That’s right folks, no opening crawl. Even Star Wars video games have an opening crawl.
It felt strange and jarring to be dumped into a story without the usual introduction. That jumpiness also continued for the first part of the film. The transitions between scenes seemed too quick, and there were plenty of new character introductions crammed into a short period, sprawling across planets and time.
However, once the film finds its rhythm, it really is very good. We follow Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter of an Imperial engineer, as she reluctantly joins the Rebel Alliance for what she thinks is a one-time deal. As the film progresses, the ragtag team of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) bands together for a renegade mission. Their goal? Steal the plans to the Death Star. The problem? Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and half a galaxy stand in their way.
The Cast is Fantastic
It can be argued that since this is a standalone film, we do need to be introduced to an ensemble cast of characters that we’ve never seen before as quickly as possible. The cast is amazing, and are certainly one of the main highlights of the film. Felicity Jones shines, and Alan Tudyk is absolutely priceless. Ben Mendelsohn plays a worthy antagonist, and the entire Rogue One team stands out in a franchise full of memorable characters. Director Gareth Edwards successfully makes us care about these new faces – human and droid alike – playing on our emotions and natural affinity for the underdog. Even with all the new heroes and villains, some old favourites are brought back via cameos and clever CGI, to a true fan’s delight.
I will say that there is a lot of death. I mean a lot. And it isn’t just caused by Darth Vader, who – as advertised – is absolutely brutal in this film. Disney and Lucasfilm need to make a standalone Vader film as soon as possible, setting it after Episode III. Trust me on this.
Gareth Edwards at His Best
The visual adventure is nothing short of amazing. It certainly feels like a modern film, not just a throwback to 70’s science fiction. It’s a fresh perspective, with that distinct Star Wars flavour. The action sequences could be the best we’ve yet seen in a Star Wars film, with a climactic battle that will be difficult to top in future releases. Where the film may come up short in subtle dialogue, the picture that Gareth Edwards paints visually is majestic. There is a sense of grandeur, a grittiness you can taste, with small bits of nuance that linger with you after you’ve left the theater.
Should You Go See It?
Ultimately, I recommend seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. If you are a Star Wars fan, don’t expect it to fit the formula of anything you’ve seen so far. Also, if you are new to the franchise (where have you been?), you can still watch this film without being lost. You may miss the countless Easter eggs and references that made me geek out, but you will still enjoy the ride.
Hope is very clearly the main theme here. Hope, despite all odds. Hope, despite the looming mass of an evil Empire. And even though all seems lost, we can all look forward to a new hope.
So, have you geeks seen Rogue One yet, and how would you rate it? Let me know if you agree or not!