Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
As one of the most anticipated films of 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has officially earned that hype by exceeding expectations in terms of storyline, character development, and just overall badassery. As one of the first in the new series of Star Wars standalone films, Rogue One tells the story of a team of rebels who work together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s weapon of destruction.
As the catalyst for the standalone anthology, Rogue One tells the unique tale of the rebellion’s plan to send a team on a desperate mission of obtaining information to combat a growing threat. It’s a story we’ve all heard about from the original Star Wars films, but now we get to meet the heroes behind the life-changing mission. We are introduced to Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), an unlikely hero, who is forced to join in the rebel alliance to find her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), the scientist who is working for the Empire on a secret project. Her team of bandits consist of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a respected Alliance officer; Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind monk who believes in the Force; Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), a soldier and close friend of Chirrut; Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a pilot and defector from the Empire; and, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a reprogrammed Imperial robot with a mind of his own. Each character brings something to the fight and each has their own moment to shine throughout the film, which furthered their character development. Yen and Tudyk’s characters truly stand out from the team, as they bring both intensity and unexpected humor to their roles.
Jones is wonderful to watch onscreen as Jyn. It was a relief to watch another and new female lead in the Star Wars universe, proving to us that Disney and Lucasfilms are doing their part in creating role models for everyone. Although some parts of her backstory felt a bit scattered, the character was well-written and, honestly, just incredibly likable. She wasn’t someone who was desperately trying to be a hero, but somehow, she rose above for the challenge. The film did a good job showcasing both her strengths and her flaws.
Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla), a fan himself of the Star Wars Universe, gave provided Rogue One a more realistic and raw feel to the film. We are at war. War is not pretty. There are no more Jedis and their powers of the Force to save the day. Instead, there are these regular fighters who, although, they believe in the Force, are not Jedis. These are ordinary people fighting for a cause they believe in against an evil Empire threatening their way of life. Edwards understands this and it’s no wonder he recruited cinematographer Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher) to provide the darker elements of war and succeeded in giving us that.
The production and set designs were breathtaking, and displayed the different and detailed elements for each planet and ship. From the sandy Holy city of Jedha to the island planet of Scarif, the new worlds created for Rogue One felt very much connected to the Star Wars Universe we all know and love. There were some familiar settings presented in the film, such as the Death Star, which was brilliantly recreated by art director Alex Bailey. Although the battle and fight scenes were fantastic, there seemed to be some issues with the CGI effects for several characters. It doesn’t take away from the story or the excitement of it all, but felt rather unnecessary.
The most surprising joy I found in the film was in the music composition by Michael Giacchino (Doctor Strange). There were echoes of the John Williams’ score throughout the film, but never once felt like it was copying it. There was a darker element to the music, since there was more risk involved in the film, and Giacchino was able to capture that with the music in each scene. Some of his music did pay homage to the Darth Vader composition, which makes sense, since we do [this isn’t a spoiler, it has been revealed many times] see an appearance of the Sith Lord, himself.
For those intense Star Wars fans, there were plenty of Easter eggs from the original films, as well as the two animated series Star Wars: Rebels and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. They were not overpowering, in-your-face Easter eggs, but were more of the ‘you’ll know it when you see it’ kind. Those moments brought the audience lots of joy, especially when you begin to realize how everything ties together so perfectly with the “prequels” and “sequels.” This is what made this film so amazing! Once you watch this film, you could instantly go home and watch A New Hope, and feel as if no time has passed. It just makes that much sense. It’s hard to believe that the film had to go through many re-shoots, but since they did, they did it right. I am a fan of this film, and it has been placed in my top three Star Wars movies of all time. And yes, I liked it better than The Force Awakens.
Rating: 5/5 Atoms