Review of 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'

rogue_one.jpg Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is only a child when her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), an engineer is taken by the empire to continue his work on an ultimate weapon. Jyn hides from the troups but is found by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Years later Jyn is broken out of an Imperial prison by a rebel squad headed up by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) with his companion, a former imperial droid, K-250 (Alan Tudyk). The rebels question Jyn about Saw who is now an extremist on the planet Jedha who they believe has information on what the Empire is planning. They offer her a deal - Find Saw and she is free to go. On planet Jedha they find Saw who shows Jyn a hologram from her father saying that he has a flaw built into the Empires super-weapon, the Death Star and pleads that Jyn to help the rebels destroy it. Just as they learn this the empire use the Death Star to attack Jedha but the rebels escape and travel to Edu, an imperial engineering outpost, to find Galen but will they be able to find the plans and get the information to the rebellion?

This is a prequel to the first Star Wars movie (specifically, the first released, “A New Hope”) though we have told this film is meant to stand alone. For the first half hour or so I found myself lost and I know the original movies quite well so it is unclear how much hope someone new to the franchise (if there is such a person) would have at understanding what is going on. Having said that the story is self-contained though if you know Star Wars you will know how it turns out…Let's just say that there is a lot of blood spilt in the suitably spectacular finale. There are a number of nods to fans of the series with cameos from a few familiar faces including R2-D2 and C-3P0 as well as a computer-generated Grand Moff Tarkin overseeing the building of the Death Star, but generally everything here is new including new environments we have not seen before, particularly tropical Scarif.

Rogue One introduces a number of new characters that bring a bit a degree of novelty though very few of them are particularly pleasant. K-250 seems to care little for humans, particularly Jyn, and makes no secret of it, for example, throwing her to the ground after rescue. Jyn herself is no charmer either when we first meet her, struggling to simply survive. Even the rebel council is full of serious and gloomy faces (though perhaps they don't have anything to be happy about…). There is precious little humour and what little there is tends to be more ironic than anything else. Do not expect any cuddly ewoks or particularly friendly robots here.

So, is it enjoyable? Absolutely. We want the rebels to overwhelm the evil empire and following Jyn as she finds meaning in her life redeems her existence but as far as any attachment to any of the new faces, particularly given the ending (which I will not reveal here), I am not so sure. The secondary characters tend to shine here with the blind, mysterious mystic Chirrut ÃŽmwe (Donnie Yen) and his bloodthirsty yet devoted companion Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) bringing a degree of interest to the proceedings but others such as the generally personality-free pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) fade into the background despite many having key roles to play.

The film looks amazing - The effects are truly unbelievable and the sets are incredible with the frenetic action scenes keeping you on the edge of your seat but still possible to follow without getting a headache - Even in 3D. Michael Giacchino's musical score is perfectly suited to the film and often so close in feel to the Star Wars series soundtrack by John Williams at times instead of dancing around similar themes I felt myself wishing he would just use the original (yes, I am a bit of a geek that way). It is great to see a new film with a full symphonic recording…

The numerous Star Wars fans will mean that this film breaks all sorts of box-office records so its popularity is all but guaranteed. That aside, the film is full of action and looks absolutely incredible - Many orders of magnitude over the original films which does mean is slightly jars in comparison to them. Things here are hyper-realistic and truly look as if they belong to a real world with dirt, grime and wear in evidence everywhere nothing like the generally clean and shiny vehicles and worlds we have seen before. The realism carries onto the idea that never think that any of the characters are immune from harm…Refreshing.

Great lot of fun. See it on the big screen. Seriously.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2016-12-17

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Studio: Lucasfilm

Year: 2016

Length: 134 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Gareth Edwards: