Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the eight film in the Star Wars series and the first one that’s not centered on a Jedi. The story isn’t the galactic adventure The Force Awakens was. Instead, it follows the beginning of the rebellion aka the opening crawl to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Even the most novice Star Wars fan knows how this story ends. The trick, however,  for director Gareth Edwards and writer Chris Weltz was not only making Rogue One’s journey entertaining, but making it feel like part of the Star Wars Universe.

Enter Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who is a brilliant scientist the Empire has forced to help them finish constructing the Death Star. Over the years Jyn was able to hide her true identity, but with the Death Star almost complete, she’s grabbed by The Rebellion in hopes of finding her father and stopping the completion of the Empire’s planet killing machine.

After Jyn receives a message from her father, she sets out to steal the plans for the Death Star with a band of rebels led by Captain Cassian (Diego Luna), a blind warrior named Chirrut (Donnie Yen), a gun toting soldier named Baze (Wen Jiang), a pilot named Bohdi (Riz Ahmed), and an android with no filter named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk).

In true Star Wars fashion, the first hour and change of the film is a montage of a bunch of planets, introducing new characters, and setting up all the dominoes that fall in the final act. The early part of the film is interesting, but the familiar set-ups are as Star Wars as Jedis and light sabers.

The last hour is where all the magic happens – aerial fights, ground fights, sacrifices, and enough explosions to make Michael Bay jealous. It’s exactly what a blockbuster film should look like on a big screen. Jyn and her motley crew of soldiers take on an impossible task that leads to all the epic things during the final act.

Felicity Jones is one of Hollywood’s bright young stars and it shows during the film. She’s great as the lead and believable as the badass Jyn Erso. Jones calmly brings her strong character to life during the film and allows her to fit seamlessly into the Star Wars family.

The entire supporting cast is great, but the big cameo is Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). Vader has a small cameo, one you see in the trailer and one you don’t. The second cameo is exactly what Star Wars fans pay to see and it comes at the perfect time.

Rogue One fits perfectly into the Star Wars Universe and continues the tradition of fascinating Star Wars stories. This is exactly how a blockbuster should be made. It’s a serious war film that doesn’t take itself so seriously that it distracts from the fun of Star Wars.  It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and know how this film ends, but the beauty of this movie is its ability to pull moviegoers into a universe and making you care about characters you’ve never heard of. To transport you to another world for two hours and make anyone feel like a kid again.

Grade: A

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