ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

PrintE-mail Written by Jack Bottomley

Since J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens kickstarted this new era of Disney-backed Star Wars, it's seemed as though the galaxy far, far away is never going to be that far away anymore. Already planned are Episodes VIII and IX, as well as 2018’s currently untitled (Han) Solo movie (did you see what we did there?). So with all this rejuvenated interest in the Star Wars galaxy after George Lucas had seemingly gone full circle with 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, how does this new film fare, as it looks back at how the rebels acquired the Death Star plans before the events of 1977’s A New Hope?

Normally at this point it would be customary to go through the plot, but as the film has just hit cinemas and the spoilers are strong with this one, we will leave it at that last sentence in terms of synopsising (is that a word?). A few complaints were hurled at The Force Awakens for copying the plot of A New Hope and lacking its own identity, but those complaints cannot possibly apply here as Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) accomplishes his mission of putting the ‘wars’ back into Star Wars. Rogue One is a Star Wars film we never expected to sit through and has the potential to be very polarising (heck, out of the viewing party this writer was with, one loved it and the other hated it). This is very much a film that respects the franchise but also constantly reverts to established tropes to deliver a movie that may take you aback by how unusual but compelling it is.


From the brilliant set design (marred slightly if you see it in 3D) and mixture of practical effects and CGI (which is used to basically do the impossible at a few points - you’ll know what we mean when you see the film) to an operatic soundtrack by Michael Giacchino, who riffs on John Williams intermittently but mostly does his own thing, this is aesthetically Star Wars but inescapably different. Your level of love for the film will depend on how you take to the new creative decisions and to the tying up of events leading to the original film. However, whatever your reading, Rogue One is a must-see event that presents a hellish war, with themes of hope’s power to inspire mistreated masses and an unflinching presentation of the loss that comes with conflict. The references could be accused of fan service but the film is engaging and bold and ingenious in how it ties to the established story of A New Hope.


Obviously we won’t go too much into which characters are here and what they are doing but each one plays a part in the story. Felicity Jones makes for a fine lead as the defiant Jyn Erso, as great support is offered by the main cast of talented names. However, the best performance in the film is probably Ben Mendelsohn's villainous turn as the cruel and callous Imperial Director Orson Krennic, who makes for a firm hand grasping the rebel’s throats throughout the film. However, Alan Tudyk’s motion capture/vocal performance as Rebel droid K-2SO is another surefire scene-stealer, with his sardonic comedic asides providing some much-needed uplift to what is a rather dark film.


Rogue One sure pulls no punches and it is a gritty war picture that perfectly captures a galaxy ruled and impoverished by the tyranny of the cold and clinical Empire. Speaking of which, we are sure you know a certain helmet-wearing Sith Lord is a part of the film, as he has practically dominated the promotion. And believe us when we say that Vader’s usage in the film is simply perfect, as he becomes a bogeyman to the story. All in all, expect the unexpected from Rogue One; it is a movie that really will benefit from revisits, especially come the mesmerising finale, which has your heart beating more rapidly than the blasters of a TIE Fighter.


We all expected a great time but this reviewer was so taken aback by the absorbing results of this offering that rating it was nigh-on impossible before seeing it again, but as a verdict is required before a second viewing can be attended, make no mistake that this is a Star Wars story worth telling, seeing and exploring. One wonders if it will be even better a second time, once the new face of Star Wars has well and truly sunk in. Whatever the case, the results are spectacular, possibly divisive and most certainly astounding, just like the best films should be. War is hell, but Star Wars is quite the opposite for cinemagoers.


ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: GARETH EDWARDS / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS WEITZ, TONY GILROY / STARRING: FELICITY JONES, BEN MENDELSOHN, DIEGO LUNA, DONNIE YEN, MADS MIKKELSON, ALAN TUDYK, RIZ AHMED, FOREST WHITAKER, JIANG WEN  / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

Expected Rating: 9

Actual Rating:



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