Rogue One: A Star Wars Review
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“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.”
-An excerpt from the opening crawl of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
Set between the original and prequel trilogy, Rogue One recounts the tale of the Rebels who uncovered the Death Star and the vital plans on its destruction. The team is led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) a small time criminal whose father (Mads Mikkelsen) took part in the construction of the station with Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), an Imperial official. Following Jyn is Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) a brash rebel fighter, his companion K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) a reprogrammed Imperial droid, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) a blind wise man who believes in the force, Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) who acts as Chirut’s bodyguard with a fully-loaded blaster, and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) an Imperial pilot who deifies the Empire.
The film is a sight to behold, with a story that takes place in the timeline of the classic trilogy and incorporating the visual effects of the prequels and The Force Awakens, especially in the space battles. What sets this movie apart from its predecessors is that there are no lightsaber-wielding Jedi or the traditional opening crawl; this is a more serious and realistic-looking picture that puts the emphasis on “war” in Star Wars. These are the dark times, the Jedi are no longer around, evil reigns supreme, even the Rebels are uneasy among themselves. There’s still some fun and humorous moments courtesy of K2 who reminded me of Marvin, the gloomy robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) but with more of a backbone. Another standout is Chirrut Îmwe, who packed the skills of Marvel’s Daredevil and Toph from Avatar the Last Airbender. A few familiar faces show up that add relevance to several plot threads of the Star Wars universe including Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) a veteran of the Clone Wars (appearing in a couple of episodes of the 2008 series) and a masked Sith Lord who doesn’t disappoint despite his limited screen time.
My only negative would be its main lead Jyn Erso. The main characters are what make these films work and I was looking forward to seeing another strong female protagonist like Rey from The Force Awakens, instead we have a monotonous and bland character. I understand the turmoil that Jyn’s been through but is it too much to ask to show some sort of emotion when in a situation?! Even in the serious and heartbreaking moments I still didn’t feel anything for her. I could tell that she had some depth but it’s not well executed onscreen. I cared more for the side characters including Cassian who starts out a bit unlikable but managed to show some development especially in a scene involving Jyn’s father. I’ve felt more sentiment from Anakin Skywalker in the prequels.
Despite that underwhelming detail, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story still makes a nice addition to the franchise and fits well in the canonical story. Its fine, exciting, intense, depressing and uplifting as it shapes-up the events for A New Hope in a galaxy far, far away.