Rogue One is the Star Wars movie I have been waiting for – member berries aside – since The Phantom Menace was released. I am not a prequel basher to get that out of the way but THIS is the movie that should have been ONE of the prequels. Director Gareth Edwards has created the perfect Star Wars war film that all fan boys have been craving since The Empire Strikes Back.
To be quick and concise and not to drown you in journalistic drivel, I will give my highlights of the film as Rebels vs. Empire.
Diego Luna carries the first half of the film as Captain Cassian Andor who also fights dirty unlike any other character handled in a Star Wars film and it pays off showing the spoils of war and its effects on those who fight it day in and day out. Felicity Jone’s Jyn Erso is a strong lead but with the perfect casting of the rest of the rag tag team who set out to help her steal the plans of the Death Star, she is over shadowed. Chirrut, the mysterious Jedi Monk from Jedha, you almost want a separate movie about him and his involvement as a Guardian of the Whills. His repeating of “the force” line will become instant pop culture. Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera who most audiences may have no clue as to his past development in the The Clone Wars animated series is also a nice tie in back to the prequels. And the last stand out of course is K2-SO – the reprogrammed Imperial droid who provides much needed comic relief in this very dark film.
“Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.”
Yes, this is Rogue One but this film is truly about the Empire and its ambitions for control across the galaxy. Ben Mendhelson’s Director Orson Krennic is the protagonist against a large backdrop of two characters we know and love from the original trilogy. The pecking order of Admirals to Grand Moffs is quickly established in this film and Director Krennic is out to prove his power and pathetic groveling at the same time for rank, especially with the Dark Lord of the Sith – Darth Vader. And speaking of Vader, Rogue One finally force chokes the image the prequel trilogy plagued his character with. The last few minutes before the ending brings back the horror aspect of Vader and any fan of the Empire will be very pleased – the audience cheered.
I won’t spoil the cameos or plot devices because they are worth the price of admission alone. Let’s just say the facial technology used in Rogue One has brought back some original trilogy leads – well done and light years ahead of what was delivered as “ground-breaking” in Tron Legacy.
Rogue One delivers on all the ships, sounds, storm troopers, and the resonance we all know and loved in the original Star Wars trilogy. My only complaint would be some of the dialog exchange within the Rebellion was a little hammy and forced but I do wonder what the reshoots were and where they were spliced in as much of the footage that was marketed in the trailers for this film simply was not there. Also of note — the opening of Rogue One not using the iconic Star Wars crawl was a huge mistake and should be changed back in future stand alone films. I understand the rationale for not using it to distinguish stand alone films from the trilogies but it was just too jarring to begin a Star Wars film without it. Overall, Gareth Edwards is to be commended here for taking huge risks with a Star Wars film that doesn’t play it safe and is gritty as hell. Everyone is fare game and Darth Sidious’s one liner from the first The Phantom Menace trailer finally pays off.
“Wipe them out. All of them.”