Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, bridges the gap between the prequels and the main Star Wars story. Revealing the untold story of the group of rogues that stole the Death Star plans that set in play the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.
Set in the days leading up to the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One sets about doing something unheard of in the Star Wars universe to date. Create an entirely watchable prequel movie that audiences will want to sit through. And they achieved this in spades.
This is no understatement as director Gareth Edwards manages to eke out a compelling story from the opening crawl of A New Hope. Despite all the stories of reshoots and ghost directors, Edwards’ fingerprints are all over Rogue One.
Known for his ground level, documentary shooting style, Edwards may be best known for his work on Monsters and Godzilla. Both movies had a real lived in style, foregoing special effects where possible, to utilise practical effects as much as possible. It’s these traits that make him ideal for bringing the first proper war story to the Star Wars expanded universe.
Rogue One is our first non-Skywalker story and instead the focus of the story is on the members of the rebel alliance who take on the might of Galactic Empire. Since 1977 we have known that “Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”
Rogue One looks at this lesser known yet pivotal Star Wars plot point. Hope is a recurring motif throughout the movie. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a highly trained loner. Her links to the extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) become vital to the alliance’s struggle against the Empire. But it is her estranged father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who drives her into the arms of the rebels. Paired with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the reprogrammed imperial enforcer droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the group soon crosses paths with
But it is her estranged father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who drives her into the arms of the rebels. Paired with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and the reprogrammed imperial enforcer droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the group soon crosses paths with Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) a blind force sensitive monk. Soon this ragtag group is all that stands in the way of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) and the Empires end goal of suppressing the galaxy via the Death Star.
Unlike The Force Awakens, where there was an underlining sense that we were watching Star Wars the greatest hits, Rogue One forgoes nostalgia for all out action. Unless you count blue milk as a spoiler, you can happily watch Rogue One as a stand alone entry.
Relying on a classic man on a mission plot meant that the movie requires great characters for the audience to latch onto. It doesn’t hurt that we also get the return of some familiar faces including the dark lord of the sith himself, Darth Vader. Although he’s only in the movie for a short time he almost steals it.
Because the plot relies on a classic man on a mission storyline means that it also requires great characters for the audience to latch onto. Luckily Gareth Edwards and his team have assembled a fantastically diverse cast.
Felicity Jones is going to be the cosplay of choice in 2017 and it’s easy to see why. Jyn Erso is a formidable character who has no fear and is unlike any we have met in the Star Wars universe before.
Fans of James Luceno Rogue One prequel, Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel will be all too familiar of her connection to Mads Mikkelsen. Throughout the course of the movie, Jyn goes from being a loner wanting nothing to do with the rebellion to leader of the Rogue One team.
Jones is ably supported by her co-stars each of whom has their moment to shine. I’ve not seen the IP man franchise films but Donnie Yen is superb as Chirrut Îmwe. The force sensitive blind warrior who forms a great double act with Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus).
Rogue One heroes don’t operate in black and white instead survival is based on their willingness to do whatever it takes. Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor is a rebel intelligence officer asked to carry out morally questionable tasks. Luna is excellent and brings a certain Han Solo feel to the movie. Just in his use of blasters.
We’d be remiss to mention his partner K-2SO played by the always excellent Alan Tudyk. His blunt interplay with everyone is another highlight. While Ben Mendelsohn is perfectly cast as the imperial director looking to rise up the ladder to his rightful place beside the emperor.
Introducing plot points that audiences are familiar for nearly 40 years was always going to be a challenge facing the team behind Rogue One. And to a large extent they do manage to create a compelling story that will appeal to Star Wars fans and non-fans alike.
Gareth Edwards has done a great job in creating a lived-in world that is full of interesting characters and set pieces. All in all Rogue One is a massive success. Time will tell where it fits into the larger discussions of the best Star Wars films but it’s definitely top three.