With all the lightsaber duels and Sith versus Jedi shenanigans it’s easy to forget that Star Wars is a war film, so the wonderful Rogue One is here to remind us! Just in time for Christmas!
From visionary director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) a rebel looking for a cause who finds one in the Rebel Alliance fighting the evil Galactic Empire.
Jyn and fledgling rebellion plot to steal the plans to the Empire’s newest superweapon, The Death Star, a planet killer designed by Jyn’s father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson) and Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), an Imperial weapons scientist.
Jyn’s not alone in her quest though and she’s joined by plucky gang of rebels including; Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) and Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).
Brief spoiler-free plot synopsis over with (Don’t want to upset the House of Mouse) let’s begin the review proper. Without sounding like a gushing fanboy I loved Rogue One, so much so I think it may be one of my favourite Star Wars films ever.
Now that’s not to say it’s perfect, Edwards struggles to get all his pieces in order in the opening act and it felt a little scattershot, but once the film hit its stride I was under its Jedi spell.
Edwards manages to make the galaxy so much larger than just the squabbles of the Skywalker family, crafting a fun, exciting and thoughtful movie with plenty for old-time fans to chew on, while also introducing a whole new generation to a galaxy far, far away.
What I enjoyed most about the film is that it didn’t feel like any Star Wars film before it, which is refreshing especially after The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams was criticised by some for playing it too safe.
Not an accusation that can be made of Edward’s film, which puts the ‘wars’ in Star Wars. Seriously this is a violent movie that isn’t afraid to remind us that the Rebel’s rebellion is having an effect on the galaxy as a whole and that in many ways our heroes are terrorists.
It’s a bold move, considering the current political climate, and one that Edwards wasn’t afraid to develop, pointing out that everyone in the alliance has done ‘terrible things’ to defeat The Empire.
Don’t go thinking though that this is some cynical overwrought melodrama about how ‘war is hell’ though, at the heart of this film is the theme of ‘hope’ and nothing exemplifies this more than the movie’s main character Jyn Erso.
Jyn’s journey from a selfish loner to a war hero is a wonderfully developed character arc and Felicity Jones plays the lead role with real heart, making her fully three-dimensional rather than some stereotypical ‘hero girl’.
Unfortunately Jyn’s arc defines the film and this means that a lot of the other members of ‘Rogue One’ don’t get the development they deserve, particularly Baze Malbus who suffers from this the most.
Edwards does manage to give everyone a ‘hero moment’ but compared to another ensemble cast piece like Civil War, the team’s members do feel a bit flat outside of their particular niche.
Of course as a prequel fans of the original trilogy will get a lot out of it. Edwards throws in a few wonderful callbacks to Episodes IV, V and VI that feel really organic and not just like plain old fan-service.
You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy the film though, it’s a wonderful war movie even without it’s Star Wars wrapping paper, specifically in the third act which feels like classic cinema.
In many ways this is the prequel audiences deserved all those years ago, filling in old plot holes and developing the story in a satisfying manner while respecting what came before it.
Exciting, moving, with just the right amount of nostalgia thrown in, Rogue One is the perfect Christmas treat and an even better Star Wars film, a must see!