REVIEW: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story (2016)

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2016, Disney/LucasFilm Ltd.

Director:
Gareth Edwards
Producers:
Simon Emanuel
Allison Shearmur
Writers:
George Lucas (original characters)
John Knoll (story)
Gary Whitta (story)
Chrus Weitz (screenplay)
Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Greig Fraser
Editing:
John Gilroy
Colin Goudie
Jabez Olssen

Cast:
Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso)
Diego Luna (Cassian Andor)
Alan Tudyk (K-2SO)
Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe)
Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus)
Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic)
Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook)
Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera)
Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso)
Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa)
Alistair Petrie (General Draven)
Genevieve O’Reilly (Mon Mothma)

The first spin-off of the Star Wars saga serves as a bridge between Episodes III and IV, all revolving around the mission to steal the plans to the deadly Death Star.

Fifteen years ago, former Imperial scientist Galen Erso is forced back to complete a deadly weapon known as the Death Star under the orders of Commander Krennic. When Galen’s wife is killed when she tries to resist the motion, Galen’s daughter Jyn goes into hiding until she is saved and raised by old friend Saw Gerrera. However, as an adult, Jyn has been using aliases and has become a survivor even if she finds herself incarcerated.

En route to an Imperial camp, Jyn finds herself rescued by the Rebel Alliance’s Cassian Andor and K-2SO. The Alliance knows her identity and requests that she finds both Saw and her father as they are now aware of the Death Star being completed. At first reluctant, Jyn decides to assist the Alliance in exchange for her freedom. Going to Jedha, they learn Saw has taken a defected Imperial pilot, Bodhi Rook, who was sent by Galen to inform them of a weakness in the Death Star. Along with mercenary Baze Malbus and former temple master Chirrut Imwe, Jyn and Cassian decide to infiltrate the Empire to steal the plans for the Death Star. However, this is truly one mission that will not be as easy as expected but the Alliance is ready to do the impossible.

When it was announced that not only would there be three new episodes to the Star Wars universe, but a series of spinoffs, the universe was excited. This first official spinoff, which in some aspect can be described as “Star Wars 3.5”, acts as a bridge between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. This is apparent with the characters of Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, and a certain Princess returning. However, these three particular characters are played by new actors with the latter two having the likenesses of the original actors imposed on the performers while James Earl Jones returns to voice Vader.

The heroes of this film are great with their eclectic personalities. Felicity Jones leads the charge as Jyn Erso, a headstrong warrior raised to survive dire situations even when she has mixed feelings about her father’s loyalty to the Empire. Diego Luna is the pilot Cassian Andor who has a complete sense of loyalty to the Alliance with Alan Tudyk providing some comic relief as Andor’s robot K-2SO. Some welcome additions including Chinese actor and filmmaker Jiang Wen as mercenary Baze and action legend Donnie Yen, who with this role finally gets the Hollywood breakthrough in the role of the blind warrior Chirrut, who believes he is one with the Force. Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker make the most of their roles as Jyn’s father and mentor respectively. Riz Ahmed starts out scared as he defected but shows his mettle in the later portions.

While there isn’t much lightsaber action like the other Star Wars films, there is plenty of shootouts and hand to hand combat. Yen pulls out the stops when he starts wielding his staff and unleashing his martial arts skills, but don’t count out Jones, who in one scene unleashes a barrage of fighting skills against a trio of Stormtroopers in the Jedha scenes, even impressing Cassian. The action is truly up to par with the series even with a bit of a darker tone but is well executed.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a definitely Force-worthy spin-off to the sci-fi saga, with a wonderful and diverse cast, a great story that serves as a bridge and some great action. Definitely worth checking out!

WFG RATING: A

DVD/BLU-RAY

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