It is this writer’s opinion that The Force Awakens (read our review) was, in essence, a reboot of Episode IV: A New Hope. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very strategic move on Disney’s part to jumpstart the Star Wars franchise with a rehashing of old tropes and story beats but ultimately Episode VII did little to push the saga forward.
And even with my disdain for gimmicky cinema, after sitting through 2 whole hours of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 3D, I can still safely say that THIS is the prequel that you have been looking for.
One of the first things that struck me is how close this movie feels to Episode IV stylistically. Everything from the production design to the costumes were so intricately recreated to give that 1970’s sci-fi look. And it really transported me back to 1977 when we first learned of a galaxy far far away.
Rogue One’s story centres on stealing the infamous Death Star plans that allowed the rebel alliance to gain an upper hand against the Empire. You could tell that director Gareth Edwards really took the effort to focus on the journey rather than the outcome and it shows onscreen.
There is quite a bit of exposition on the hosts of characters, and while I would not venture to call it “Band of Brothers” in space, you still do feel like you’ve grown with the bunch of them by time the credits start to roll.
The main protagonist is Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones (“Theory of Everything”, “Inferno”), whom we see teaming up with Diego Luna’s (“Book of Life”, “The Terminal”) Captain Cassian Andor and his band of misfits to retrieve the Death Star plans.
I can’t really say much about the acting other than that everyone does a decent job but kudos to Ben Mendelsohn (“The Place Beyond the Pines”) and Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”, “Doctor Strange”) for bringing the gravitas. Special mention has to go to Donnie Yen for playing the blind force user and for having the BEST line in the entire movie.
And lets not leave out the battle scenes. The dogfights in this movie are the best to come out of any Star Wars film since the original Death Star trench run. The special effects are what we would expect from any ILM-backed movie, and there is even a little bit of fan service which made the audience cheer, so watch out for that.
There are also a few bits of subtle (and not so subtle) nods to the fans peppered throughout the movie, so you’ve been duly notified.
Rogue One is far from perfect and to be honest, the beginning of the movie was a little plodding but the second half of the film makes up for it. It is hard to craft a story when the outcome (RE: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is a forgone conclusion, but it is the journey that makes Rogue One one helluva ride.
Side Note: Watch this in a regular theatre and skip the 3D as the film hardly benefits from the extra dimension.