Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Movie Review
Rating: A (Fantastic)
Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Walt Disney Studios
With Disney and Lucasfilm choosing to release a new Star Wars film every year, this might seem like overkill and exhausting a simple six-film saga. However, as was proven last year with The Force Awakens and again with this standalone entry Rogue One, the series created by George Lucas is in great hands. This universe is one that lends itself to venturing off into multiple individual stories and not merely one involving the Skywalker clan. Director Gareth Edwards, much like J.J. Abrams, has taken our knowledge and love of this world and used that as a bouncing off point to introduce us to new characters. As somebody who still considers the very first Star Wars film the best chapter in the series, Rogue One more than works as a direct prequel to those events and as an exciting adventure in its own right.
It’s amazing how much Rogue One looks like it came from the era of the original trilogy. While the special effects are higher budget and utilise computer generated imagery, it looks like we’ve stepped back in time to when Luke was still gazing at the two suns of Tatooine. However, Edwards decides to focus on many other worlds with production designers Doug Chiang and Neil Lamont crafting many planets. It’s no secret Star Wars took heavy inspiration from Frank Herbert’s Dune and that influence continues here with the multiple planets we watch and have to keep track of early on. The beach planet, sure to become a fan favourite, is another splendid sight to behold.
Seeing Star Wars from the point of view of the Rebels, without the famous trio at the centre of it, is also a great way to spice things up in this franchise. Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso fits perfectly into this universe and the opening scene immediately makes her sympathetic. She is a conflicted character, which the screenplay and Jones handle with the proper development. Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor serves as a worthy companion, while also showing that the Rebel Alliance has its own dark side even while attempting to topple the Empire. K-2SO, their robot colleague, brings a deadpan sense of humour to what is mostly a serious war picture. However, the other core members of Rogue One don’t leave the same memorable impression. It makes one realise why the other Star Wars pictures tend to focus on a central trio. As good as Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed and Wen Jiang are, they feel like tag-alongs most of the time.
The action is spectacularly directed by Gareth Edwards. He has already proven himself skilled at handling gigantic set-pieces with Godzilla and that was clearly no fluke. Every single special effect, editing and sound choice has been perfectly assessed and build the proper excitement in many sequences. The most elaborate and brilliant is the final climax, which successfully jumps between multiple character points-of-view. The villains in Rogue One also add to the tension of the piece. Ben Mendelsohn feels right at home with the baddies of the original Star Wars trilogy. With his cape flapping behind him, he brings forth that obvious Third Reich symbolism George Lucas intended and is a real bad guy. Darth Vader makes an appearance, but doesn’t overwhelm the film. He is in just enough and properly shows why he is one of the most memorable screen antagonists.
As a Star Wars fan, Rogue One has everything that makes the series so appealing and is a worthy addition to the now quickly growing saga. As a movie fan, Rogue One delivers in its exciting story, wonderful visuals and top quality action sequences. There are multiple points where one will be smiling with glee at seeing what Gareth Edwards has put together. Yet through this gritty war picture is a story of rebellion and not merely accepting the status quo, along with a message about teamwork and family. The imagination of the Star Wars films continues to amaze with even the lesser episodes having something to offer. Thankfully, Rogue One is not a lesser chapter. It’s a shiny piece of cinema that one can watch proudly with the revered original trilogy and even the prequels, too.
About Stefan Ellison
Stefan Ellison has had a passion for cinema since an early age. A graduate of York University, he likes creating stories just as much as writing movie reviews. For the past number of years, he has also become a viral video distributor, exploring the bold and exciting world of the online new media revolution. Stefan is also an enthusiast in the art of animation, constantly researching the historical aspects of the medium, whether it involves finding out who animated Mickey Mouse or what type of plasticine was used for Wallace & Gromit.
Regardless of whether a film was made to win awards or throw explosions at the screen, Stefan will watch it.