Set between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope: when Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) sends Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) on a mission to find a defected pilot and to parlay with rebel radical Saw Gererra (Forest Whitaker), what looks like a seemingly harmless mission turns into something far more deadly. To go from an extraction mission to stealing the Death Star plans from the Empire is nothing short of suicidal. In typical Disney fashion, none of that gloomy stuff matters when you have a hope on your side.
Let me start by saying that Gareth Edward knows how to make a god damn Star Wars movie. I was sceptical at first because studio interference seemed to be occurring during as there were reports of reshoots. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can tell you with hand on heart that this is the best Star Wars movie made for the big screen to date. The trailers alone were spectacular and the film holds up. From cinematography to costume design to Michael Giacchino’s epic musical score: Rogue One is all hands on deck.
The screenplay is structurally sound, incorporating a varied cocktail of drama, comedy and pathos but most notably, a well-written Star Wars story with interesting characters and not oversaturated with action scenes and effects. Furthermore, I really liked the CGI. I didn’t expect to have a CG’d Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, one of many references to the Original Trilogy. Moreover, we end with a CG’d younger Carrie Fisher as Leia. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Vader. The action sequences were well-directed and were very reminiscent of The Battle Of Endor and the Battlefront games. Some may call them rehashes, but I’d call it learning from the past to embrace the future.
The sets were fantastic. Before the movie started filming, we were told it’d be a grittier take on the Star Wars universe and they kept their promise. The storyline and acting entwined with dark sets left me with chills many times throughout. Modern technology is made for films like Star Wars. Rogue One is the ideal blend of live action and computer generated imaging. I give this film high praise as a film watcher, and not as a hardcore Star Wars fan because I’m not a fanatic. I will find any reason to bash the prequels yet with the release of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, the prequels are slowly becoming a distant memory. I was prepared to find fault in this film but I can’t because there aren’t any worth complaining about.
The supporting cast were really good. From Riz Ahmed (The Night Of) to enigmatic Donnie Yen (The Ip Man Trilogy) as badass blind force-wielder Chirrut Imwe (quite like Rahm Kota), who is basically Star Wars’ Matt Murdock. Bloodline’s Ben Mendelsohn is the big bad on the block, or Vader’s bitch. Nevertheless, he knocks it out of the park. Donnie Yen’s character was well written and I could do with an origins story about him alone. It’s hard not to see that despite this being an American franchise, that there seems to be an abundance of English accents, mostly in the Alliance Council meetings.
Unlike previous films, we are witness to a far more physical rebellion. They are men and women, and like most human beings we don’t always agree with each other. Sometimes, we betray one another, we kill one another and then shake hands as if nothing has happened. We are always on our moral high horses and this sense of moral ambiguity is depicted in the Rebellion. They even talk about if they really are better than the Empire. It’s good to see the dark recesses within humanity rather than rebels portraying a false aura of righteousness in a cause that is not without flaw.
I’ve been following Felicity Jones’ career with great interest for some years and it’s still proven that I can fall in love with her all over again. No matter the film or character, she always delivers. She plays this lone rogue with conviction and her number two Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) tactfully avoids becoming a Han Solo parody. All the cast give great performances, even if some of the minor characters were underwritten. Though, that was always going to be a struggle in a film like this. Rogue One even had their equivalent of Sheldon Cooper, a reprogrammed imperial droid called K-2SO, played so well by Alan Tudyk. He’s a character that is so irritating, that by the end, he has grown on you. Rogue succeeded in the face of studio interference and to survive a feat as perilous as that, has to be applauded.