It’s beginning to look a lot like Star Wars Christmas isn’t it? Last year we had The Force Awakens – which was awesome on every possible level – and this year we have Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Disney are really spoiling us this year – having given us two Disney films (Zootropolis and Moana), a Pixar film (Finding Dory) and two Marvel films (Civil War and Doctor Strange). And as if they weren’t generous enough, they’re also giving us a Star Wars film to round off the year. I love you Disney!
Now to clear up some confusion for those that may not follow Star Wars as closely as others, Rogue One is actually NOT the next chapter after The Force Awakens. Rather it’s a prequel/spin off movie set before the events of A New Hope. It follows a group of rebels that are trying to locate plans for the Death Star, which will eventually lead to the events of the rest of the film franchise onwards.
Remember how we had such an awesomely strong heroine in Rey with The Force Awakens? Well here we have an equally strong heroine in the form of Jyn Erso. Her character had quite an interesting journey, because she spent most of her time being raised by the rebellion, even though she is actually the daughter of the Imperial Weapons Developer that created the Death Star (played by everyone’s favourite scary villain actor – Mads Mikkelsen. Although this time he’s actually playing a GOOD GUY. Sort of). Here’s the interesting twist. Remember how the Death Star plans in A New Hope showed the weakness in the Death Star? This guy DELIBERATELY built that in so that it could be destroyed. Once Jyn learns this she takes it upon herself to carry out her father’s wishes. She’s kinda like a female Han Solo in this way – a rogue that finds themselves fighting for a higher cause than what she believed. And she is an excellent heroine with a lot of layers to her character – making her as interesting as Rey.
Other members of the “Rogue One” team, as they become known is Cassian Andor, who actually has a darker intention in this mission. I’ll keep spoilers down to a minimum but let’s just say he’s not exactly a nice guy. Although he has his reasons. Honestly though, I didn’t latch onto his character as much as I could have done for a number of reasons. Other characters included Chirrut Îmwe, a blind monk that can kick ass in the name of the Force, his friend Baze Malbus, who’s army looks suspiciously like Boba Fett’s (in fact my brother and I have a theory that he may even be a Jango Fett clone) and Bodhi Rook, an Imperial fighter that defects to the Rebels. To be honest, most of the time I didn’t much care for these characters – until the end that is. Some of the film felt like they were there to make up the numbers, but they all played an important part of the climax.
But my favourite character from the team (and probably my favourite character overall in the Star Wars series) was K-2SO, an Imperial Droid that was reprogrammed to join the rebels. He was basically a more badass version of C3PO and my god was he hilarious. Whether he was smacking people around the face, casually commenting on how they will die or just throwing a grenade at Imperial troopers like it’s the most natural thing, he was pure comedy gold. And voiced by Firefly’s Alan Tudyk – who has done a heck of lot with Disney this year. He was the standout character for me in this film.
Other two important characters are Saw Gerrera (those who saw The Clone Wars TV series might remember him – the crappy Clone Wars series, not the cool Genndy Tartakovsky series) who raised Lyn and has some pretty extreme ways of dealing with the Empire, and new baddy Orson Krennic. Krennic was an interesting addition to the Star Wars rogues gallery as he actually (along with Lyn’s Father Galen) helped design the Death Star. But when Grand Moff Tarkin sees how powerful the weapon is, he takes over the project. This mean Krennic had a reason to hate both the Rebels AND the Empire – making him a pretty tense villain.
And whilst we’re on the subject of Grand Moff Tarkin, to keep with some continuity with A New Hope, they use extensive CGI on the actor playing Tarkin to make him look like Peter Cushin. And I have to say that, for a moment, I thought that Cushin had come back from the grave – they were that convincing. They also do something similar when Princess Leia appears, making her look like a younger Princess Leia. Considering that this is set before A New Hope, these effects were kinda needed – and it’s awesome that they could do something like this.
And of course, as this is Star Wars, several other characters appear from the films. Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and of course – C3PO and R2D2 as a cameo. But of course, the greatest return has to go to… Darth Vader! Yup! He’s in this film – voiced by James Earl Jones again. And though he only makes a couple of appearances, by god are they awesome to behold! The film would have been good enough without him to be fair, but having him in is just brilliant!
So characters aside, there is a lot of cool things happening in this movie. As you would expect, there are a number of awesome fight scenes involving Imperial troops and Rebel soldiers. I was quite surprised how dark it was in places. The fight in Jedda kinda had undertones of Syria in places – in how a peaceful marketplace could turn into violence at the drop of a hat. It actually raised an interesting point about how the Rebels did warfare and (contrary to the heroic nature they are put across in the other films) kinda showed that the tactics the Rebels used to fight the Empire made them no better than them. It was a nice touch as I do enjoy it when some ambiguity to characters is added.
Oh and you remember how in the original films we only saw the Death Star blow up a planet and that was it? Not here. Here, you get to actually SEE what happens when the Death Star hits a planet. Rocks are ripped apart, oceans boiled, dust clouds are thrown in the air – it’s like an atomic bomb times a thousand. And it’s REALLY harrowing to watch in places. All that was needed was the screams of the dying that this would be one of the most disturbing things ever seen in Star Wars. This is particularly present in the final battle on Scariff. Given that none of the Rogue One characters you see appear in any other Star Wars franchise (to the best of my knowledge) then you can probably guess what their ultimate fate is. Still, it makes that final scene all the more dramatic when you realise that these guys were the heroes of Star Wars. It was their actions that ultimately led the Rebels to victory – without them it could have gone a whole new way.
Rogue One could have been a risky move for Disney – prequels can either be really awesome and fill in a number of blanks and plot points, or they can go the other way and bring up plot holes and inconsistencies. Thankfully Rogue One is the latter. It was so exciting that I wanted to see MORE from it – then I realised I could. By watching A New Hope! When this comes out on DVD and I make some time for myself, I’m gonna watch these two films back to back and see how they link up.
There isn’t really much more for me to say. I love his film – it might even end up being my favourite Star Wars film of the ones we’ve seen so far! It holds true to the original film, whilst adding in some interesting twists of its own. It’s also extremely dark in places, but there is also hope. With fleshed out characters and state of the art special effects – it’s everything a Star Wars fan could want.
The Force is strong with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. So I will give it 5 Lightsabers out of 5.
And yes I am aware I sound like a massive fanboy - but it's Star Wars so what do you expect? XD