As of this coming May, Star Wars will officially reach the big “Four-Oh”! And to help commemorate the anniversary of the world-renowned Science Fantasy franchise, I have a long-awaited review of the latest epic which is now available via home video distribution.
The Half Dirty Dozen
Directed by Gareth Edwards ( Godzilla) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story centers around a collective, but small group of Six resistance fighters led by protagonist, Jyn Erso (Felicia Jones) who embark on a suicide mission- to retrieve the Achilles’ heel plans of the infamous Death Star satellite that’s “no moon”.
To be honest, Rogue One serves more as a prequel than some proposed standalone film when you factor in how the events that took place is directly before Episode IV: A New Hope.
What I immediately noticed during the opening, was that all too familiar screen crawl accompanied by John Williams’ theme is missing Was this a bad omen of things to come? No, because the film’s setting is actually based on Episode IV’s opening crawl. As soon as the film begins, we are treated to some prologue that provides Jyn’s backstory and why she joined the Rebel alliance. It seems that Jyn’s dad, Research scientist Galen Erso is a fugitive from the empire and is hiding on the planet Lah’mu until Imperial leader Orson Krennic arrives to persuade him into completing work on the Death Star. Galen refuses at first and suddenly has a change of heart after certain events which soon occurred for refusing Krennic’s demands.
Mads Mikkelsen has been quite the busy man in 2016 well, I guess that’s one guy who had a good year at least. First with Marvel’s Doctor Strange, now a fucking Star Wars project? Disney is just mad about Mads!
This isn’t your typical Star Wars thanks to the cinematography bearing a more grounded aesthetic as if it were shot in some form of documentary style. The various set pieces and locales and environments look organic if not engaging. I really like what Edwards was striving for and he pulled it off exceptionally well!
The main cast primarily consist of a very diverse group of freedom fighters and while some may and have critiqued RO as being “Social Justice Wars”, I for one, welcome the ethic casting. Another problem albeit, a minor one, is the lack of motivation behind the resistance fighters’ purpose. I guess there’s only so much you can add into a film running over 2 hours. If you’re into Easter eggs, you’ll be amazed at what was thrown in! For example, those two Mos Eisley asswipes from ANH.
The soundtrack courtesy of Michael Giacchino was not compelling as the previous films based on the venerable franchise. However, there are a handful of cues from the older episodes and one, is the “Imperial March” aptly implemented during a certain cameo appearance.
While on the subject of “cameos” I couldn’t help but bear a shit-faced grin from ear-to-ear after seeing Darth Vader himself arrive and fuck shit up during the last arc.
Peter Cushing actually returns as Grand Moff Tarkin, well sorta. No, there is no restored footage that has been previously shot from the late actor, but instead, his appearance is done from the ground up via Computer-generated Imagery and honestly speaking, I was so creeped out by “CGI Tarkin” to the extent that I didn’t pay much attention to his dialog at first but was sucked in immediately during the power struggle arc between him and Krennic.
K-2SO the droid was perhaps the biggest scene stealer thanks to his condescending manner and can aid the group during high stress situations. More than just some “3P0” comedy relief while Donny Yen, a favorite HK martial arts actor of mine, delivers a kick ass pun intended performance as the blind Chirrut Îmwe who often bear the likeness and fighting acumen of a Jedi.( Ambiguously speaking of course since he lacks the obvious Jedi tricks, instead, mutters about how he and the Force are one.)
It was interesting to see how the rebellion was portrayed in this movie. They would take drastic and to an extent, immoral measures to achieve their goals for the greater good. But why was Cassian hesitant on killing Jyn’s father, Galen- the architect of the Death Star right after he had a clear shot?
Was this sudden change of heart due to him having a conscience or feelings for Erso?
“They call it the Death Star. There’s no better name. And the days coming soon, when it will be unleashed”.
There’s that cool X Wing bombing run sequence-despite being extremely brief, felt more original than say, the attack on Starkiller base and the final dogfight in both air and space is nothing short of spectacular!
I for one, can’t fathom the criticism aimed toward this spinoff. Its intentionally a war story with themes of valor, revenge, courage and of course sacrifice. Personally, I felt that Lucasfilm could have done a better job with the portrayals of both Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher’s likeness.
The CGI characters looked as if it was cut from a videogame cinema and pasted on screen. And speaking of “videogames”, I can’t help but compare RO’s plot device to the superb HALO Reach since both share the same motives and ill-fated situations. Could it be that Rogue’s writers were inspired by game developer Bungie’s Magnum opus or was it merely a coincidence?
“The question is what choice? Run, hide, plead for mercy, scatter your forces? You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission. The time to fight is now”!
Is the Force strong with this one?
Overall, Rogue One was a very enjoyable experience that for the most part, did not disappoint. The McGuffin is simple, yet effective since it is very tantamount to the first Star Wars movie. Props to Disney for not going with the often-rumored happy ending. Who woulda thunk it?
Rated R for “Recommended purchase”! That’s if you like Return of the Jedi (Battle of Endor and Death Star Dogfights) A New Hope, (Infiltration of Death Star with exciting gunfights and heroism.) and Empire Strikes Back and Revenge of the Sith (For its dark narrative and pathos.) While many Star Wars fans prefer The Force Awakens, I’m going “rogue” by stating that this is the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. Certainly, better than the prequels and yes, The Force Awakens.
That’s right, I said it!
Blu-ray arrives on April 4th.