On Screen: A Review of ROGUE ONE - A Star Wars Story!
I'm going to begin this review by saying this..... This is the Star Wars movie we've all been waiting for! We were all informed that Rogue One was a stand alone film, not a part of the epic trilogy or prequels. But in fact, it's exactly that! This movie is the Star Wars prequel we all wish George Lucas would have delivered to us in Episodes 1, 2, and 3. No ridiculous Jar Jar Binks, no generically written love story (even though some sort of love story was needed), no massive amounts of CGI that made things look cheesy, and especially no whiny little brats! This film delivered to us the true essence of Star Wars. All of the official new canon that takes place before A New Hope (1977's Star Wars) funnels through this film into the original trilogy. It's a brilliant piece of work in terms of screenplay. We have numerous contributions to the story and screenplay from Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, and Gary Whitta. If you think about what had to be done to truly bring together all of this new official canon which includes the prequels, the Clone Wars, the new books, Star Wars Rebels on Disney, and make it all bridge cohesively to the original trilogy then you, like me, should be highly impressed!
I'll give you a brief synopsis and I'll be sure to keep it spoiler free, or Hannah might throw something at me from across the office.
The Rebel Alliance finds Jyn Erso and tries to convince her to join their cause to arrange a meeting with an old family friend because he has information that might lead to her father who's working on an Imperial weapons project of unknown origins or capabilities. During this meet and greet they learn that this new project is the Death Star which we all know and hate and we get to see a very small portion of it's destructive capability. A hunt then takes place to track down Jyn's father who's on a another planet, which in turn leads the rebel operatives to another planet where the Death Star plans are stored. During the operation to steal the plans a space and ground battle occur which leads us into the events and really close to the opening sequence of Episode 4 - A New Hope, like very scary close to the opening space battle in A New Hope.
I'd love to give more detail, but some of you haven't seen the movie yet and I really don't want to spoil it for you. I will say this though...... VADER!!!! The last several minutes of the film I think I might have held my breath. I was blown away folks!
The cast was phenomenal all around. We're introduced to Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones, the daughter of Galen Erso who is responsible for the Death Stars main weapon. You can read more about him in my book audit of Star Wars Catalyst Here.
Rebel operative Cassian Andor played by Diego Luna who is a man willing to do anything for the cause (good and bad).
Cassian's droid, K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk who is the dry-witted comic relief in the film (and it works very well).
Ex-Imperial cargo pilot Bodhi Rook played by Riz Ahmed, his role was one of redemption.
Saw Gerrara played by the awesome talented Forest Whitaker, Saw is an older character from the Clone Wars who's seen some serious action.
Chirrut Îmwe played by Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen, a blind force sensitive hand to hand combat expert.
Baze Malbus played by Wen Jiang, a heavily armed and expert marksman.
Ben Mendelsohn playing our main villain in the movie as Director Krennic, who by the way drank way too much of the Imperial propaganda juice.
The cast as a whole jived very well together. Alan Tudyk's K-2SO is a big stand out for me, I loved the way he was written, he's the polar opposite of Anthony Daniel's C-3PO. I don't wish to give too much away, but I think he's going to be very popular. The level of acting portrayed by all the players was great, we didn't have anyone who didn't belong on this level of a movie, no horrible "B" rated actors I guess I should say, they all truly held their own. I think if Disney decided to explore some of these characters backstories a bit more they could with some short series comics.
The cinematography was outstanding! Granted, we're dealing with planets that don't exist, but the area's in which they chose to shoot and the sets that were constructed were outstanding. The close-up in your face type of shooting was done perfectly, it wasn't really shaky and all over the place, it was smooth and shot from great angles. The battles scenes on the ground and in the air were spectacular! I know I've already said this, but once again, this is the Star Wars movie we've been waiting so very long for.
Another great aspect about this film are all of the wisely placed Easter Eggs. If you pay close attention to the film and watch the background in most of the scenes you'll catch all kinds of badass Easter Eggs. Remember up top when I said that this movie tied in all of the official canon? Well, pay close attention and you'll catch all kinds of goodies! You'll see ships, gear, and more importantly characters! Characters that you thought you'd never see or even were possible to see again. I can't say this enough, this movie is a huge hit. This movie is going to help propel Disney into the future Star Wars universe, they just got a ton of street cred with all of the fans and I think it was needed to prove to all of us that they could pull off these new stand alone movies and the extended episodes of 7 to 9.
Gareth Edwards, a major Star Wars fan himself, knocked this one of the park. I liked his directing style. There were only a couple of very minor low points in the film, but the entirety of the rest of the film out shined those small minor lulls. This film has drama, action, thrills, and horror. In comparison to the other Star Wars movies, this one is closely related to The Empire Strikes Back with all of it's darkness. I'm so very thankful we didn't get some over the top cheery Disney flick. They kept it low down, dirty, gritty, and dark like we were all hoping that it would be. This is after all suppose to be a time of war, or at least the stressful precursor to it.
If this is at all a hint as to what we can expect from the other stand alone Star Wars movies then this season of Star Wars we're going to have over the next several years is going to be a joyous one. Hopefully Disney or Lucasfilm keeps Gareth on for another movie, it's great to have a director who's such a hard core fan.
Go check out Rogue One, it's in all theaters now and the run time is 2 hours and 13 minutes. I'm giving it 5 stars out of 5.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment, tell me what you thought, no spoilers for the first few days though. You can find me on Twitter at ChadGriffin12, send me a note there. The staff here at Constant Collectible will be doing a "Spoil It" show next Thursday night (12-22-2016) where we plan to talk about the movie in it's entirety, hop on YouTube and check it out.