Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

rogue-oneRogue One: A Star Wars Story – 4/5 –  There is a certain thing that happens throughout the year that movie goers look forward to.  This would be the annual film entries in a series.  With the return of Star Wars with last year’s The Force Awakens; we are now welcome to the annual treatment.  Outside of the traditional Episodes every other year, we are given ‘spin off’ films that take place in the same universe.  This is a big risk that Disney/Lucasfilms is taking, but it is one that they hope for a rewarding pay off.  Taking place before A New Hope, Rogue One tells the story of the rebels that sacrificed everything to get the plans to the Death Star.  Through great mixture of individual characters and strong action; Rogue One is another strong entry to the Star Wars Universe.

Premise:  This is the story of the Rebels who risk it all to steal the plans to the Death Star; the prequel to the original Stars Wars film.

The cast is a mixture of new and old characters. The bulk is focused on the ensemble cast of the Rogue One Rebels.  Outside of them are a lot of ‘cameos’ that help flesh out the connection to A New Hope.  If you want to see a full list, I recommend referring to the IMDb page.  In short, the film does a great job providing a spotlight on the main group of characters that are integral to the story at hand.  No matter if it is Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Donnie Yen as Chirrut, Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic or so many others; they all do a great job in providing individual strength to their roles.  There isn’t as a lot of time to flesh out each individual person, but there is enough to understand their purpose, mantra and bravado when it comes to the overall film’s progression.  Out of all the characters, the real standout is Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso.  Being the central protagonist, she plays a pivotal role when it comes to seeking out the truth, putting together the rebels and leading a mission that will eventually save the galaxy.  She commands the screen with so little dialogue and raw expressions.  Through who unique charism and the use of facial and physical interactions, she provides power and worth on screen.  Beyond the main cast that are part of the Rogue One Crew, the villain Orson Krennic and a few others; the rest help flesh out the living/breathing world of the inhabited planets.  They do enough to create something real in a fantastical realm.

The direction is common when it comes to films that start from the basic premise of being a Prequel.   As such, a film that comes before has to do two main things.

  1. Creating something that fits within the timeline.
  2. Create a dynamic of originality in a predictable setup.

It is hard for a prequel to stand on its own because of these demanding threads.  With this, you have to create something fresh within a ‘renewed’ sense that makes it worthy for the audience to return to a familiar universe.  Rogue One’s story dances this fragile line with some ease.  It brings in new characters that tie into the mission of ‘stealing the plans’; creating a standalone story that has its own context without changing the main ‘Episode’ progression.  What the director does is provide worth to the new characters through creative fervor.  This happens because of the organic nature that is profound to the Star Wars Universe.  Being rich in content from various mediums (novels, comics, etc.), there is enough you can build up a rich visual experience.  The buildup comes through the common aspect of the ‘coming together’ mantra.  This allows for witty dialogue, imaginative action and unique character/world designs that provide layers to the ongoing prequel outline.  As this happens, you’re pulled in immediately to enjoy the ride.  Even for this, there are some obvious flaws that do stand out.  You have the common ‘McGuffin’ plot device, ‘it is all connected’ theme, the last minute heroic ploy and the ‘prequel’ convenience factor that play at certain points in the film.  This does create glaring aspect within the basic linearity of the plot, but the fact that this is ‘Star Wars’ helps breathe that fun and escapism that most look for.  Within that sense, it never hinders the journey because of the outcome that we are heading towards.  Once you hit that third act, the buildup of the mission leads to great satisfaction.  From the ground battles, the one-on-one dire situations and dogfights that happen in the air and space; it is all truly gratifying.  This is where the ambiguous nature of both sides come into play; where the Empire and Rebel Alliance do things ‘at all cost’ to try and achieve their mission.  Once we get to the climax, it is a fitting resolution to a lot of the mysteries surrounding the unanswered questions to the original films.  Once you hit the epilogue, it will honestly make you want to go home and watch the original Stars Wars instantly.

The visuals are what you have expected to see for any film made within the Stars Wars Universe.  It is such a breathtaking sight to see the amazing cinematography on the big screen.  From the exotic and grim locales, the many creature designs and the awesome imaginative action set pieces, there isn’t enough words to describe the delicate detail of an auspicious world.  You will be truly dismissed of the facts that everything on screen are mostly props or CGI because it all feels authentic to the natural eye.  On top of the amazing achievements found in the visual masterpiece, the score is on the same level.  It stands on its own as original to the rest of the Star Wars musical collection, but there is enough to resemble the deep gravitas to the sounds in the film.  It is spectacular to hear an orchestra create something so outstanding.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may have that prequel-itis; but there is a lot that creates an amazing experience.  From the ensemble cast, the action set pieces and the great ‘Easter Eggs’ found throughout; you will enjoy this film.  No matter if you’re a Stars Wars Fan or not, I recommend this as a fun time for the family.  It is worth the full price of admission.


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