Star Wars gets its latest overall entry with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards and focused on the first paragraph in the crawl for A New Hope, showing how a group of tenacious rebels stole crucial plans to the Death Star and got them to the rebel alliance, the film stars Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Wen Jiang, Jimmy Smits.
Rogue One is very different right from the off, this being a story that’s an off shoot from the main episodic series but still connected to them, there is one Sith in the film as you already know but the Jedi/Sith and direct influences of them is practically non-existent, which makes for an interesting change in pace and even combat, though the force is often mentioned – mostly thanks to Chirut Imwe played by the brilliant Donnie Yen. The diverse, multi-cultural cast makes for a great statement and contrast to the Empires uniformity and everyone is on point, Alan Tudyk makes for great comic relief as K-2SO, a re-programmed imperial droid who works for the rebels and has many a good one liner in him, making for some interesting inter play. Especially with Jyn – played by Felicity Jones, who really surprised me as I initially thought she came across as flat in the trailers, Jones is expressive, emotive a believable driving force of Rogue One, as is the conflicted Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, who brings depth to the idea of a rebel soldier. There’s also a great emotional core to the story with Jyn and her father Galen and without getting into spoilers, we see how there are good people in places you’d least expect.
As always the rebels contrast the empire and their troops who dogmatically follow orders but we get an interesting and not before seen look at war in the Star Wars universe, something touched on in the Force Awakens but further explored, we see the dirty side of the rebellion in the work of spies and assassins and the fact that people are often conflicted by their orders – on both sides, makes things really interesting.
And generally speaking, director Gareth Edwards brings home the gritty reality of war in this universe, ground and space battles feel vast and epic with some great visuals and brilliant set pieces that hammer home the notion that the Empire and Rebellion have been at war for a while and a lot of people have felt direct loss or have lost something – which drives a lot of the rebels, fairly unsurprisingly. We also see the fact of friendly fire touched on, which is something new for Star Wars and also, a fact of war.
To touch on the visuals – they’re great, there are some pretty spectacular although spoiler-ific scenes, involving the Death Star and its power but generally, there’s a lot of action, the set pieces look great and there’s a climactic third act that’s a particular stand out.
And yeah, this is a war film so you can expect some loss and the tone is decidedly pretty dark, though there is slight comic relief, the weight of death in the film is certainly there – as it is in most Star Wars films but more so here I feel, seeing boots on the ground on both sides, up close and personal for a change, far removed from Jedi and Sith duelling with powers that can be viewed as magic from the outside looking in. Though that being said, Darth Vaders’ cameos are possible highlights and definitely showcase his power and dark reputation. Rogue One is a really solid entry into the franchise, bringing the reality of war and a fascinating look at the over-arching war between the Rebels and Empire itself and the intricacies of it. The cast does a great job with a few stand outs in Jones, Luna and Tudyk, with an engaging and well contained story, even for a plot we already know the outcome to and the result is something Star Wars needed, something different but impactful nonetheless.
. Has some great set pieces, action sequences
. Characters are all pretty engaging, some are multi-dimensional
. Introduces an interesting, gritty side to the conflict in Star wars