Cert: 12A Runtime: 134 mins Director: Gareth Edwards Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker
We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!
Star Wars is back in prequel form! Rogue One is the pre-story to Episode IV with Gareth Edwards at the helm. We were promised a heist movie, new characters and Darth Vader. This is a big gamble for Disney as they take another plunge into uncharted-esk territory. So what is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story about? It is a period of civil war. The Galactic Empire rules the galaxy, and are putting the finishing touches to their ultimate super-weapon, the Death Star. The Rebellion plan to steal the its plans in order to detect a weak spot in which to destroy it. They recruit Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to work with Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and a team to undertake the deadly mission.
The film manages to combine the familiar self-referential Star-Wars-y elements with the new style and expanded world. The references and tie-ins don’t become too much, either.The best thing about Rogue One, though, is the style. Despite being burdened by the mammoth series with which it is associated, the film still manages to implement its own style, which is unlike any other film in its series, being close to gritty at times, and far more realistic. In spite of all the references and returning characters, it’s not often like the other Star Wars films. The colour palette is darker, the mood more sombre, the main character plot armour almost non-existent. Nor are there any magical wunderkinds upon whom the entire fate of the galaxy rests due to an ancient prophecy – just resourceful and determined people who are dedicated and good at what they do. This doesn’t make up for the disappointing one-dimension of the majority of the characters.
Felicity Jones does a stellar job as the lead, especially given some of the rather uninspired dialogue. Diego Luna was a great emo Hispanic Han Solo. I wished he had more of a background. Alan Tudyk and Ben Mendelsohn are rather good, but too many of the characters are not even memorable enough to remember their name, even taking into account cool traits such as the wise, blind old Force user played by Donnie Yen. It’s a bit of a shame given the talent of actors such as Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker who goes full Nicolas Cage, and Mads Mikkelsen, but the film simply has too many characters to devote time to each, resulting in a rather disjointed final product, at least in the first third. Though these flaws must be acknowledged, they do not detract too much from a film which is fundamentally enjoyable, and never bores. It zips from location to location and character to character, and remains fun, with an easily accessible and genuinely involving, intriguing plot. The ending also manages a near-perfect connection to Episode IV, with just the right amount of tie-in to not be overdone and also satisfy fans. In fact, it can be spliced almost seamlessly to the next chapter of the story and be coherent.