Directed by: Gareth Edwards – Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker
Star Wars Rogue One is probably the most hyped and heavily marketed film since, well, last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
However, this isn’t a sequel to that movie. Rather – in terms of where it fits in the Star Wars universe – you could consider it a prequel to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was the first movie released way back in 1977.
It could also be considered a sequel to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released in 2005. Confused yet? Well don’t be. As while this is where it fits on the Star Wars timeline, and while it features some characters from the main franchise, Rogue One works as a standalone movie, and is separate to the main movies envisaged by George Lucas.
That said, it is still a Star Wars’ story, and fans won’t be disappointed, as several favourite characters make an appearance, and, due to its timeline, some are even resurrected from the dead! (In fairness they aren’t dead in this timeline – keep up!).
The basic plot is pretty simple. Jyn Erso (Jones) is recruited by the Rebel Alliance to work with Cassian Andor (Luna) to steal the designs for the Galactic Empire’s super weapon, the Death Star, which has been created by her father, Galen (Mikkelsen).
Of course, this is Star Wars, so obtaining the plans involves fighting numerous members of the Empire’s army, and risking their own lives. There are also several ambitious Empiric officers, who all have their own agenda regarding the weapon, and who will stop at nothing to utilise its power for themselves.
Edwards has done a great job of integrating all the Star Wars mythology, without making it feel as if it was shamelessly shoehorned in. If you’ve never seen any other Star Wars movie, you will still be able to follow this, as it doesn’t rely on a knowledge of the back-story. Although, if you do have at least an inkling of the world of Star Wars, you will probably get more from some of the references – especially the cameos and special appearances.
There is one resurrected character that will have your jaw dropping, as they also had to literally resurrect a much-loved actor to include them! Of course FX are the lynchpin of these movies, but even in the midst of all the battles and the amazing creatures, this is one of the most impressive examples of CGI you will see.
That’s not to take away from the other effects, which are as stunning as you would expect. At no point do you ever think you might be watching green screen or CGI. Everything is mind-bogglingly realistic. When you add in some stunning cinematography, and an astonishing soundtrack that sweeps you along, this becomes an all-encompassing cinematic experience.
In terms of the performances, this is an action-flick and not Shakespeare, so you know what to expect. That said, they have assembled a pretty fine crew of actors here, which does elevate Rogue One slightly above most movies of this genre.
I was particularly surprised by Jones, whom I often find to be quite insipid, but who really holds her own here. My one complaint would be that she is the only female lead holding her own, and while it’s great to have a female kicking ass, having several females kicking ass would be even better.
And look out for sidekick droid, K-2SO (voiced by Tudyk) who actually seems to be channelling Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, and who brings a huge amount of humour to the movie.
Rogue One gets a bit preachy about The Force in places, but overall, this is a roller-coaster thrill-fest, that takes you along for the ride, and will have your heart racing for its 133 minute running time.
I saw this in IMAX 3D, and I would recommend this, as you really feel like you are part of the action, but if you can’t get to an IMAX still go and see it.
Aside from anything else, Rogue One is all anyone is going to be talking about for the next month, and you wouldn’t want to feel left out.
In Cinemas December 15th. See Trailer Below
(midnight screenings on Wednesday 14th)