Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelson, Alan Tudyk, Forrest Whitaker, Jiang Wen.
Almost a year ago to the day, I went to see Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens at my local IMAX and was blown away. I was initially a little apprehensive going in to watch it after the almost universally awful prequels, it was concern that was not necessary, it was awesome, Disney know the importance and value of the franchise they adopted and have treated it with the due respect. Now, after doubts put to rest with Ep VII, I can approach Rogue One with slightly less trepidation but with no less excitement.
Set during the gap between Episodes III & IV, Rogue One see’s the Empire nearing completion of its planet destroying super weapon, The Death Star. The newly forged Rebellion tasks a recused civilian who’s father aided in The Death Star’s construction to undertake a potential suicide mission to find him and The Death Star’s plans with a unlikely rag-tag group of rebel fighters.
First thing that is noticeable about Rogue One is the very gritty and ‘real’ approach they have taken to the feel of the film, the lived in world of Episode IV and more recently, VII, still on display, small visual nods to noticeable Star Wars miscellany, frantic tracking shots through full on battlefield scenarios and jaw dropping space battles. Aesthetically speaking, its spot on. There is also some tremendous fan service given with this film, I’m not going to spoil anything but there are a handful of unexpected moments that legitimately surprised me, some really cool stuff and that is what you want from a Star Wars movie, those memorable moments that stay with you, that nod to what has come before in the series.
There are some fine turns from the assembled cast, Felicity Jones and Diego Luna do a fine job of holding up the front end, Alan Tudyk, better know as Wash from Firefly offers up great comic relief as a reprogrammed imperial droid. Smaller but no less delivered support turns from Mads Mikkelson & Forrest Whitaker are welcome for the short time they are on screen, Donnie Yen is definitely one of the films highlights and his onscreen chemistry with Jiang Wen is enjoyable to see also.
This film is enjoyable, you will come out of it satisfied. For me personally, it wasn’t a Force Awakens beater. We are not given enough time to connect with or care about the characters introduced in this film, they are not fleshed out anywhere near on the same level as Force Awakens but that’s not a slight against this film, it was never going to be the case being a self contained film. Instead we are given amazing battle sequences, beautiful new worlds, wonderful tip of the hat fan service and a great bridge between the prequels and the original films, exactly what it needed to be.