Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is the first in a line of spinoff movies all within a galaxy far far away.  “Rogue One” is the first spinoff “Star Wars” film which serves as a prequel to “Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope.”  “Rogue One” stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker and Riz Ahmed.  So “Rogue One” operates as a prequel to a “New Hope,” with Felicity Jones’s character Jyn Erso, gathering a band of rebels to steal the plans to the Death Star and deliver them to the Alliance.  “Rogue One” is often dark and violent feeling a lot like “Band of Brothers” meets sci-fi but still maintaining that fun “Star Wars” feel.

After the gigantic success of last year’s “Force Awakens,” people have been embracing the triumphant return of “Star Wars,” however there was a lot of speculation about these spinoff films and whether or not they would succeed.  Well, let me say that not only will they succeed, but after seeing “Rogue One” it is now in my top 3 greatest “Star Wars” films.  The way the story was handled here was so tailored to a “New Hope,” but feeling fresh; seeing the same story from a different perspective, a different set of eyes.  Everything in “Rogue One” was exhilarating, exciting, and every fanboys dream.  The movie was faithful to the original trilogy characters while also delivering a slew of cool new ones.  “Rogue One” delivers on every single level and if you are a hardcore fan, this is the prequel you have been waiting for.

So the biggest takeaway from “Rogue One” is that final 3rd act.  It’s the best space battle sequence in any film.  It’s revolutionary how they shot it, utilizing a first person POV on the X-Wings and some other slick stylistic feats when Jyn and her band of Rebels is taking on the Imperial Squadron on the planet Scarif.  There was a lot of humor in “Rogue One” primarily coming from the Imperial droid turned Rebel K2-SO voiced wonderfully by Alan Tudyk.  He was a major hit in this film.  Felicity Jones brought a lot of female empowerment to her role and there were some amazing emotional moments between her and her father Galen, (Madds Mikkelsen) which brought a lot of depth to the overall narrative.  As far as the other characters are concerned, this had a very Kurosawa feel to it; sort of like a combination of “Seven Samurai” meets “The Magnificent Seven.”  It felt like an old Western film, with the seven rebels, “Making ten men feel like a hundred,” as spoken by Diego Luna’s character Capatin Cassian Andor.  Ben Mendelsohn was great playing Orson Krennic, the Imperial overseer of the Death Star.  The new planets were a joy to witness and the many different easter eggs spinkled throughout the picture was so much fun to see.  But the crowning gem of “Rogue One” goes to Darth Vader once again voiced by James Earl Jones.  Now I have heard a lot of people complain that they didn’t get enough Vader.  This isn’t a Vader movie so stop complaining.  But the scenes with Sith Lord are terrifying, and will go down as some of the best in franchise history.  Michael Giacchino’s score was good and fit the tone of the film, but I can’t say it was extremely memorable.  And the way that “Rogue One” plays into the original film is seamless and makes you want to rush home and re-watch the original movie.

There were a few minor issues that I had with the film.  It think the biggest mistake was the lack of an opening crawl.  I knew there wasn’t going to be one because Kathleen Kennedy said so a year ago, but I think that casual movie fans who want to experience “Rogue One” will be lost without that opening exposition.  So I do applaud them for doing something different but the end result didn’t look as epic or as neat as when they use the crawl for the Saga films.  The other little issue that I had was that there are two characters who are resurrected back from the dead.  One character felt better than the other, but the technology threw me off a bit at first, and then it got better as the film went on.  I do applaud the producers for doing this though as it shows creative skill and a lot of guts.  There were some small pacing issues in the second act but again I’m reaching to find things to nitpick.

Among all the controversy of reshoots and production problems director Gareth Edwards delivered a truly gritty and war-like “Star Wars” movie that is worthy among the canon.  “Rogue One” was indeed a risk and it definitely is going to payoff.  Now that we have two new “Star Wars” films under our belt, the rest of this franchise is indeed in good hands.  And I cannot wait for “Episode VIII” next year and the “Han Solo” film.  “Rogue One” is spectacular fun with amazing action battle scenes, an emotionally gripping story and an amazing Darth Vader moment that will blow your mind.  It’s very Shakespearean to the fact that tragedy is the the spark of the rebellion and a new hope lies on the vast horizon of the stars.  After all, “I am one with the force…the force is with me,” as it is with “Rogue One.”

Grade:  A+

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