MOVIE REVIEW – ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
We all know Luke, Han and Leia as our beloved heroes of the Rebellion. We know them as the cornerstones of a fandom unlike any other. But thanks Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we learn of the untold story of just how the Death Star plans made its way to the Rebel Alliance. And with it, we can add the names of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to that list of unsung heroes. Warning, spoilers ahead…
Rogue One is the first of what could turn out to be several standalone films set in a galaxy far, far away. Some of my favorite war films are the ones where the odds of stacked against the heroes and yet they remain committed for the greater good. It’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s exactly what we get here. This pivotal part in Star Wars mythology was told through a different set of eyes. In this case it was the eyes of Jyn Erso. As a child, Jyn watched as her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is taken by Imperial director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) after having her mother killed by Stormtroopers. We learn during this altercation that Galen was the architect behind the Death Star. Jyn escapes and is raised by a resistance fighter Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker).
The story shifts 15 years later with a grown Jyn being “recruited” by intelligence officer Cassian and his droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) of the Rebel Alliance to find her father. Cassian learns that a former Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) holds with a message from Galen and needs Jyn to seek him out. Much like the original trilogy, Jyn represents the unwilling participant thrust into action. Jyn retrieves the holographic message from her father that states that the powerful Death Star has one flaw that would destroy it. The Alliance is skeptical of the message and refuses to go on a suicide mission to retrieve those plans.
With a stolen Imperial ship, Jyn, Cassian, Bodhi and several other “rogues” fly off to get those plans and bring it back. Rogue One sports some of the best supporting and diverse cast the Star Wars universe. Two in particular was Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) a blind man who believes in the Force and adheres to the Jedi way. The other is his companion, Baze (Jiang Wen) an assassin with a heart as large as his loyalty. Together they form the call tag of Rogue One.
While we all know how the story ends, it’s the journey these heroes take us on that we embrace and become invested in. They don’t appear in any other films and yet we end up feeling a connection with them. So much so, that when something happens to one, you might be prone to slam your drink back inside the cup holder. That’s called good writing. For her part, Felicity Jones is a very capable heroine. I love strong female characters and the character of Jyn certainly finds her place next to Leia and Rey.
Placement of familiar faces from A New Hope integrated into the action scenes was a major plus. But it would be the return of Darth Vader in action and hearing the voice of James Earl Jones that seals the deal of my nostalgia. Much credit must be given for the CGI appearances of the late Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin and the addition of Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher.
It’s no small task for a director to try and bridge the gap between the much-maligned prequels and the original trilogy. Director Gareth Edwards does a very skilful job of having Rogue One forge its own path and stand on its own merit. In the end, Rogue One turns out to be the prequel we were all looking for.
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen and Forrest Whitaker,
PG-13 133 Mins
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY **** (out of 5 stars)
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight