Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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Genre: Sci-Fi/Action

Rating: M

Director: Gareth Edwards

Running Time: 134 minutes

Main Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk,

“The Force is with me and I am one with the Force.” Is the prayer that is constantly muttered by blind Jedi Chirrut Imwe as we proceed through the prequel to A New Hope, and the force is with Rogue One, the newest instalment to the Star Wars Universe.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set before the first Star Wars film, A New Hope and explains how the Rebels got their hands on Imperial Empires Death Star Plans. The film follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and a group of unlikely heroes as they embark on a mission to grab the plans of the imperials new super weapon, the Death Star. Soon a large battle begins as the rebels try desperately to retrieve the plans that will give them the upper hand in the coming wars, which leads into A New Hope. Queue X-wing and Tie fighter dogfights, plenty of lasers, dead storm troopers and explosions and you have yourself a Star Wars film.

But before we get into that you have to get past all the dull and slow dialogue that introduces some new characters and briefly introduces some VFX old characters. The opening act and a half is full of dry dialogue that is only there to introduce us to Jyn and deuteragonist Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Dry, Sarcastic and Witty droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), Blaster shotgun badass mercenary Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and blind Jedi Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen, who I mentioned before), before they can launch into the fun stuff that accompanies the Star Wars film staple. These are the characters to form the Rebel side of this fight to control the galaxy.

The other side is of course the Imperial Empire with Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) leading the imperials from the front, with Darth Vadar (James Earl Jones) and Grand Moff Tarkin (VFX recreated Peter Cushing) taking a more backseat approach in Rogue One. Director Krennic spends a majority of the time barking orders and running after the rebels, seemingly making a mistake at every turn. He is the imperial antagonist that was more forced on the film rather then applied and we slowly begin to hate them, like the villains in the other films, that now ultimately in the Star Wars timeline proceed Rogue One. There is no feeling of wanting bad things to happen to Krennic throughout the film, which says a lot about the performance from Mendelsohn and the way Krennic is integrated into the plot.

However the integral part of the plot is who they get the idea for the where and how to get the plans of the Death Star. That part falls on the chief scientist of the construction of the Death Star, Galen Erso (played by a mellow Mads Mikkelsen), who is the Father of Jyn. Through a hologram he is able to inform Jyn of the flaw with the Death Star and where to find the plans that will aid the Empire. Without Galen the hope the Rebel alliance is built on would be nothing. He is the key plot point for the whole story and is what kicks the story into action after the very slow opening.

From the point we find out about the plans the action kicks in and boy does it kick hard. In typical Star Wars fashion we are introduced the cool toys that for the last 40 years have become apart of pop culture and haven’t moved. We get dogfights between X-Wings and Tie Fighters, ground battles between a small rebel group and thousands of Stormtroopers accompanied with explosions and AT-AT Walkers. Which makes you squirm in your seat with excitement, like when you watched Star Wars for the first time. The film comes to us from another new director to the Star Wars Universe in Gareth Edwards (Godzilla 2014) bringing his skills with special effects to a special effects riddles universe. He is able to really showcase his action sequences with amazing special effects and accompanied a score that isn’t from John Williams for the first time in a Star Wars Film.

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Cinematography and Special Effects stand out in Rogue one – source LucasFilm

The Cinematography is then combined well with varying paces of cuts to allow both action moments and dull moments during the beginning of the movie to work well. As it progresses into the action heavy third act this is when everything technically comes together well, with the combination of the score, editing, special effects and cinematography as well as action chorography adding to these action sequences lifting the standard of film right up.

The force is with Rogue One and it is a great spinoff in the series with only a few hiccups along the way. Apart from the slow start Rogue One is riddled with easter eggs for old fans and nothing seems off about this films action sequences or how it connects to the other films. Is a must watch for any Star Wars fan.

The Front Row Opinion

★★★★

Here is the Trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and don’t forget to like The Front Row Reviewer on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @thefrontrowreviewer

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