Movie Review: ★★★☆
The recently released film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (or just Rogue One), is an explosive addition to the Star Wars franchise that both sets the stage for movies that have been released and excites viewers for more to come in the series.
The film, which premiered on December 10, 2016 in Los Angeles, introduces a diverse cast and intense storyline, all set in the ever-so-popular Star Wars domain viewers are always keen to explore.
The movie follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a woman who will do anything to bring down the Galactic empire that ripped her parents away from her as a young girl. With an alliance of rebels ranging from characters such as Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel captain, to Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a sightless monk with a literal blind obsession with the Force. Îmwe works to dismantle the Death Star, an ominous weapon her father is forced to help create.
The movie introduces new villains, such as the smug Imperial Director, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), whose sole purpose throughout Rogue One seems to be destroying as much as he possibly can, in a typical sci-fi villain style.
The estranged relationship between Erso and her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), had the potential to be explored in depth, but it felt sloppy, even though it acted as a major plot point in the film. The actors only fully interact for a total of two scenes, which could be sufficient in a movie perhaps shorter in length, but at 2 hours 13 minutes, it falls flat in Rogue One. This is one of the few weaknesses in a movie marked by a brilliant plot and excellent acting by Mikkelsen and Jones which makes the mistake almost forgettable.
Lead actor Luna’s standout performance also drives the film from being about a simple rebellious mission to a movie that has viewers caring about the character interactions as much as the actual unfolding of the film. His friendship with Erso, along with his light-hearted interactions with K-2SO, a droid sidekick of sorts, voiced by Alan Tudyk, add light to a film that is surprisingly dark at certain points.
Another high point is the brilliant camerawork and cinematography by Director Gareth Edwards. The battle scenes are superbly executed, immersing the viewer into the conflicts of a space galaxies away. Imaginary worlds shown in Rogue One such as Lah’mu, Jedha and Scarif are vividly portrayed. It appears like Edwards has taken a trip centuries into the future to capture these astounding scenes.
In Rogue One, Edwards manages to strike a balance between incorporating aspects of the classic movies and creating a world that feels new within the boundaries of the Star Wars universe. It encompasses all of the glory of the Star Wars we know and love, from the sweeping cinematic scenes of astral battles that feel like windows to the future to the breathtaking shots of faraway worlds we can’t help but hope exist, while managing to weave in fresh characters and new plots that have even the oldest fans on the edge of their seats. While the film is certainly under the umbrella of the Star Wars series, one thing is certain: Rogue One is a movie that can stand on it’s own.