Disney have started to take over the world one franchise at a time – first Marvel and now Star Wars. To their greedy credit, they have been making excellent additions to their respected franchises and now Star Wars can boast the addition of a eight film. But does the first stand alone film in the sage live up to the hype or does it turn to the dark side? ……Join Film and TV Nerd to find out!
The plot basics have already been pored over to such an extent that, if you’re a Star Wars devotee, you’ll probably know them by heart, but here they are: the Empire has constructed a new super-weapon roughly the size of a small moon, with the project headed up by stony-faced Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn in a billowing white cape) and designed by scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). With Galen drafted into service as the Death Star’s architect against his will, daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) escapes the Empire’s clutches and grows up into a tough, solitary 20-something, who’s snatched up by the Rebel Alliance after it gets wind of the villains’ secret weapon.
Realising that a planet-killing machine could see the Empire seize control of the galaxy for good, the Rebels assemble a team of mercenaries, including Jyn, intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), and a pair of warrior friends from the desert planet Jedha, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen). Their mission is to figure out what the Death Star is and, with the help of its original blueprints, work out how the Rebels can destroy it.
The Force Awakens was escapist space opera; Rogue One is a ground-level war film. Rogue One deals with characters who aren’t integral to the Original Trilogy also adds to the drama; sure, certain events feel preordained, but in terms of the bigger Star Wars saga, the mercenaries introduced here are, these are ordinary people with no Jedi abilities. Who’s to say what will happen to them?
It also helps that the core cast is, almost without a exception, spectacular. For the first 40 minutes, Felicity Jones gets relatively little dialogue as Jyn, yet her physical performance is such that she comes across as an immediately human and sympathetic character. Much of the story set-up is told through the pain and distrust which flashes across her eyes; when Jyn agrees to join the Rebels, it’s easy to share in the sensation that she’s found a cause worth fighting for. Every member of her group is carrying some form of physical or psychological wound which makes them immediately relatable; Riz Ahmed as a former Imperial pilot is one standout. Even K-2SO, who could serve as comic relief, has a vulnerability beneath his harsh exterior.
In many respects, Rogue One is everything you could want from a Star Wars film. The filmmaking, particularly in the first hour, looks superb on the big screen. The action sequences have grit and invention. Each setting has an elemental sense of hot or cold, arid or wet. Above all, we’re introduced to characters who we come to care about almost without even realising it. On the villain side of things, Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic isn’t as interesting as the emo brat Kylo Ren from The Force Awakens, but he’s an appealingly nasty, odd creation – a social climber desperate to rise above his status as a mid-ranking Imperial.
It’s an action adventure with proper dramatic weight. It introduces, from scratch, a set of characters who feel immediately of a piece with the existing Star Wars universe, and also recognisable as individuals. Above all, Rogue One is a hugely expensive film shot and acted with what feels genuine passion – and that, for all its flaws, is really what we need from a Star Wars film.
So out of a possible five stars, Star Wars: Rogue one earns:
Its the first film to earn six stars on film and TV nerd …. its simply that good!
what did you think of this film?
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