Simply put, Rogue One is the prequel we should have gotten back in 1999. Gareth Edwards takes the helm of this anthology film that takes place in between episode 3 and 4, where rebels spies go on a daring mission in order to steal the death star plans in order to save the galaxy’s from the empire’s rule.
To start things off, this is the darkest Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. This movie isn’t for young kids. It’s gritty, dark and a war movie first and foremost like Lucasfilm had promised us at Celebration.
Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, who is charged in saving her father and recovering the plans of the battle station to save the galaxy. Jones is fantastic here and this is easily her best role of her entire career. She’s tough, capable of handling herself and has become one of the strongest female characters in the franchise on the same level as Leia Organa and Rey. I’ve always been a big fan of Felicity Jones and she has a bright future ahead of her. She is an amazing and wonderful actress and she does great in the action scenes as well as her emotional ones.
The entire team is great and everyone has a role to play. Donnie Yenn was amazing as the blind warrior Chirutt Imwe and Diego Luna was also fantastic in this film as Captain Cassian Andor and his chemistry with Felicity Jones was great. These two characters had the most screen time and they were great together. Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus and Riz Ahmed as Bhodi Rook were amazing and also both acted as integral parts of the team and everyone has their moments to shine, but the real scene-stealer is K-2SO. This droid is awesome. He’s a cross between C3P0 and R2D2. He has the big mouth of 3P0 but the courage of R2 and he was super funny and his lines we’re clever and the comedy did not feel out of place or overblown. It was sparkled perfectly well throughout and everyone had their moments. Mads Mikkelson as Galen Erso is wonderful and his scenes are emotional and profound and you totally can get behind his character especially if you’ve read Catalyst, which is a must read before going in Rogue One. Forrest Whitaker is also great as Saw Gerrera, who is from the animated show the Clone Wars and is a friend to the Erso family. Lucasfilm has done a magnificent job of connecting the canon of Star Wars so far ever since Disney purchased the company and you can tell that everything is connected. It was also nice to see Bail Organa and Mon Monthna again and the two have a interesting exchange which leads to the mention of beloved Star Wars characters.
Ben Mindelson as Orson Krennic is menacing, maniacal and his scenes with Tarkin and Vader are absolutely gripping and engaging. Tarkin looked freakishly real in this film. His character was recreated with the use of CGI with actor Guy Henry as a body double and it looks as though Peter Crushing was brought back from the grave. He looked that real and technology has really come a long way since they did a younger Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy.
I know you’re waiting for it; Darth Vader’s scenes are awesome. While he isn’t in the movie much, Gareth Edwards delivers what we were promised with the notion that Vader is in this film and in his prime. He’s everything you hoped it would be and more and it’s simply awesome. He is the Vader that we should have gotten in Revenge of the Sith. Menacing, badass, scary and absolutely strong with the force.
The attention to detail is incredible and Gareth Edwards does a much better job that George Lucas did with the prequels. There are tie-ins to episode 4 throughout and the way things conclude is simply flawless and directly connects to A New Hope in the most perfect way. You could actually watch the two back-to-back and feel like they belong together since everything fits so well together.
The action is breathtaking, incredibly well shot and choreographed and it all has meaning since you care about every character involved and the stakes are huge even though the film is small and contained. The CGI and practical effects blend in perfectly and you can’t even tell which is which at times and those are the best kind of special effects and I’m so glad that they did not listen to George Lucas’s advice in putting more digital effects in the film. The score is perfectly serviceable, its not as good as John Williams’s score for The Force Awakens, but Michael Giaccino had four weeks to compose it due to the reshoots and he did a magnificent job with the time he was given. It has a very different Star Wars feel to it and it works with the context of every scene.
The space battle here is second best after Return of the Jedi. It’s simply incredible. The action in this movie is terrific and it’s bombastic and exciting and it serves the story in a extremely satisfying way. Everything comes to play in the last hour of the film, which leads to an emotionally satisfying finale. The film also adresses a flaw that Star Wars fans have complained about for a long time and Rogue One manages to explain it perfectly.
The lack of opening crawl might be a bit jarring at first, but if that’s one of the only flaws I have with the movie, then I can perfectly live with it. the The flow of the film was great and while everyone was well fleshed out and you actually cared about them, the film also have a lot of places and characters to be introduced too in the first few minutes and it can be a be a bit rocky in the beginning, but the movie does takes its time with it’s characters.
This film gives even more weight and meaning to the events of A New Hope, something that I never thought was possible. It enhances the experience and gives us fan service as well, but doesn’t hit you over the head with it. If you’re a hardcore Star Wars fan, than you’ll easily pick up on those things and even if you’re not, there is something here for everyone to enjoy.
Overall, Rogue One: A Star Wars story expands the universe even more, by introducing us to new characters and new worlds and expertly connects with episode 4, making this viewing experience emotionally investing and thoroughly engaging and sets the tone for future standalones movies in the Star Wars universe.