By: Blake Edgington, Movie Critic
Film: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Valene Kane
Review: 3 ½ bags
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, stands as the first of its kind in what will now become a series of “stand-alone” films released by the Disney-Star Wars Alliance. True to Star Wars form, this film saves the best for last. It starts off slow, introduces some expendable characters, and arrives at the turning point just in time to avert a total disaster. Thankfully, it flies straight into an amazing third act and a very satisfying finale.
In comparison, I’d have to say that “The Force” is stronger with last year’s The Force Awakens for introducing intriguing new characters who seamlessly shared the screen with original Star Wars characters. Rogue One, on the other hand, lives up to its namesake by opting out of the iconic opening crawl. R2-D2 and C-3PO make a brief cameo and only one lightsaber is used in the whole film. But, with all of its differences and quirks, Rogue One manages to appeal to old and new fans alike for a new perspective on the same story.
This version of events in the Star Wars universe takes place in the period after the prequels (released between 1999 and 2005) and immediately prior to the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. The focus of Rogue One is on a plot by the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the Death Star, which makes Luke Skywalker’s mission in Star Wars possible.
Drawn into this crucial mission is a crew of characters we’ve never seen before. For the second Star Wars movie in a row, a female character takes the lead role, this time named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). The crew includes characters played by Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, and Jiang Wen. Also, Forest Whitaker makes his Star Wars debut as a wise mentor to Jyn. Donnie Yen who plays a blind, Force-wielding marshal artist and a wisecracking robot named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), practically steal every scene they’re in.
Director Gareth Edwards, who got his big break directing the indie horror film Monsters, as well as the 2014 blockbuster version of Godzilla, somehow, in the end, makes it all come together in a great third act with coinciding battles happening in space, on ships, and on planets; salvaging the whole project. We may as well get used to the fact that from now on there will be Star Wars movies every December in the near future. Odds are there will eventually be a dud among all of these storylines, but Rogue One is not it.
Star Wars fans and critics both praised the fact that The Force Awakens made use of natural effects without spending millions on CGI enhancements. Rogue One went in the opposite direction. It is CGI or die for this film, and fortunately it worked out well for everyone.