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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review


The word prequel is dirty word for some Star Wars fans, Episodes I through III not being remembered that fondly years removed from the hype of a new Star Wars just over 15 years after Return of the Jedi. But for the first in a planned series of spin-off’s removed from the main saga, Lucasfilm are turning the clock back once again with Rogue One, dropping us back into the familiar timeline of A New Hope to elaborate on just how the plans for the Death Star fell into the hands of the Rebels. It may have felt like a bit of a stretch for some people, building an entire movie off a minor detail from original movie, but director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) has pulled it off spectacularly, delivering a heartfelt love letter to the legendary franchise that also stand on it’s own, and one that will most likely become a firm favourite of many a Star Wars fan.

Following a tense prologue which replaces the standard opening crawl, Rogue One screams out the gate, taking us on a tour of the galaxy as the main players and story beats are set in place. The first act may take it’s time in introducing everything, but there isn’t a wasted moment to be found in Chris Weitz and Tony Golroy’s script. Every action, every character beat adds to the overall narrative, and goes a long way to making us feel for and get behind each and everyone of the movie’s ensemble cast. We wouldn’t care for Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso if she was just another prisoner of the Empire, but flashbacks flesh out her backstory wonderfully, tempering her hard edge with her own personal stake in the Rebel’s mission. Same goes for Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). He could have been another faceless grunt in the Rebel Alliance, but we get to know a much more nuanced character as the movie marches on. Even Ben Mendelshon’s Imperial Director Krennic could have been another snarling bad guy, but we can empathise with his motivation, as selfish and self serving as it is. All this serves an end and it all comes together in the bombastic third act, a massive battle you would gladly watch on loop for twenty hours straight.

Star Wars was always about the characters. We remember Han Solo cracking wise and Luke Skywalker coming to grips with his complicated family history before the Death Star trench run or the Battle of Endor, and Rogue One adds a brace of new, interesting individuals to the universe, all ably brought to life by a talented cast of actors. Jones and Luna handle being the movies anchor without breaking much of a sweat, surrounded by some great supporting players. No actor feels wasted, each character playing an important role in proceedings and not just there to fill out the cast list. From Alan Tudyk’s reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (think C-3PO if he hit the gym and developed a snarkier attitude) to Donnie Yen’s blind warrior Chirrut Imwe, everyone gets their moment in the sun, and the movie is richer because of it.

We may be seven movies into the Star Wars franchise at this stage, but the world has never felt more alive and deep as it feels here. Edwards fills every frame with detail, from meandering alien creatures to set dressing, giving each scene a genuine lived in feeling. Even concepts we’ve taken for granted, like The Force, are expanded upon and given new meaning. We’ve only ever seen it from the point of view of light saber wielding Jedi, but now we see it through the eyes of the common man, which wonderfully puts it in a new perspective. Couple this with some amazing visuals, and you’re breath will be routinely taken away. We’re back in the golden age of Star Wars, and while it may no longer be 1977, at times Rogue One feels like a time capsule. Everything is in line with the original movie. No updates to technology, no new bizarrely complex CG effect. It feels like classic Star Wars, from the practical alien creatures to intense space bound dog fights, and only adds to the movie’s expansive reservoir of charm. Only once does the evils of CGI rear it’s head, and while it’s initially distracting, you will soon get used to it and you have to applaud it’s purpose, bringing back an important element of A New Hope that is sadly lost to us.

From the opening frame, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will have you completely and it won’t let go till the credits roll. Not only a wonderful addition to the Star Wars series, it is also a masterful piece of film making.


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The Movie Bit: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
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