Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

rogueone_onesheetaThe opening titles of Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977/1997) is a major handicap for Rogue One – they let slip ending of the film – so there is no escaping the films ending but as the old saying goes (“it’s not where you are going but how you get there”) Rogue One has opportunity to throw up a few surprises.

In short, Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebellion recover the Death Star plans. We have never been given details of this happened before. The setting of the film has given writers a great opportunity to introduce new characters and also to provide more background to some more familiar faces. There are subtle references to “what is to come” in the Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Moments where you honestly think to yourself “Isn’t that [Insert Character]?”. This is fun, but what is interesting is the differences to the other films.

The special effects are exceptional as you would expect for a Star Wars film. All the sets are densely layered full with lots of details – the transformation of Canary Wharf underground station is unbelievable.

For a Disney film, this is quite a departure. Rogue One is darker and more violent than you may expect – it is a war film. You may be shocked by some of the actions and motivations of the characters of the Rebellion. This I feel is refreshing and reflects reality and ugly truth we must face about humanity.

In the original trilogy, the Rebellion are full of Heroes, fighting the good fight against the evil Galactic Empire. But in reality – as we have seen through TV during the civil war in Syria – a rebellion is dirty business and although it is hard to understand at the end of the day and when you appear to have no hope, you may begin to believe that the ends justify the means. Now on to the new characters…

Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso, is a little underwhelming at times in my opinion. In a film universe, where the heroes are force wielding Jedi, a princess and a dashing rouge, she is an ordinary girl and understandably she has a lot to live up to. I think this expectation may have hindered her performance.

I would love to have seen more of a back story for Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). There are moments where we begin to scratch the surface of a tired soldier but we don’t get chance to go any further, as we are rushed off to a new star system. I feel is a he had a darker past to explore, and believe this was a missed opportunity.

Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen – who play Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus respectively – are fantastic and its again disappointing that we don’t see more of them on screen. Disney, if you read this you should do a TV series about them – The Adventures of Baze and Chirrut!

My only criticism of the film is that the pace of the story is simply to fast. All Star Wars film have a fast pace (ignoring parts of Episode’s I-III) bur Rogue One did not need to have a fast pace and I cannot think of a reason why it has to be fast paced. This may have impacted Felicity Jones performance and contributed to the lack of screen time and character development mentioned above.

The pace of the film is likely the product of the re-shoots. I am also left wondering what was left on the cutting room floor and what did the re-shoots change about the film? We may never fully know the real reasons for the re-shoots but I hope those scenes make it onto the deleted scenes for the Blu-Ray/DVD release.

What Rogue One does really well is to show the potentail of the Star Wars Universe to tell a differnet story and I am excited about the possibity for new films and TV series.

Gareth Edwards has gone a long a way since making Monsters (2010). Monsters was an amazing accomplishment for an independent film. He has done a good job with Rogue One but I get the feeling that he is would be a more confident and comfortable director without a bunch studio executives looking over his shoulder.

3.8 / 5 – A good film. However, the pace of the film is just a little to quick and this makes the film feel more like Episode 3.5 rather than a stand alone film.


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