Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review!

Jondee here on Scarif,

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I solemnly swear as a Star Warrior not to reveal anything, there are character names and settings, that is not in the trailers. The anthology or Star Wars Story films give some hope in allowing filmmakers expand on the SW universe in new directions. All credit for Rogue One has to start with the man behind the concept, John Knoll, a co-creator of Adobe Photoshop. His interest is exploring Star Wars and the boundaries of visual effects. I was also impressed with composer Michael Giacchino following the footsteps of John Williams.  This movie just in case you didn’t know serves as a prequel to A New Hope with the mission to recover the Death Star plans and the cost of obtaining it. The film does not have an opening crawl that is connected to the saga films like The Force Awakens. Gareth Edwards takes on the task of directing the first stand alone Star Wars movie. There was some laughably poor criticism of the reshoots that are a normal part of Hollywood filmmaking. Edwards has brought a new tone and perspective to the Star Wars movies and it works. Many new worlds are introduced in an almost dizzying speed. Felicity Jones’ character, Jyn Erso, embodies the spirit of the Rebellion; her life is shattered by the Empire, she becomes a survivor without a family, but has to find the strength to take on the Empire. She is not a Mary Sue like one critic accused her from the trailers. Sense a pattern with the criticism? Instead, she is a flawed woman who desperately wants some sense of family through her father, Galen Erso, played by Mads Mikkelsen. He is a father driven to compromise his values to protect his daughter and forced to work with the Empire.

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The darker side of the Rebellion is seen through Captain Cassian Andor played by Diego Luna. He will do anything to further the Rebel cause this guerrilla fighting is something we got from the Battlefront novel. The interesting part is seeing the contrast with Jyn that may lead him to redemption. Alan Tudyk voicing the reprogrammed K-2SO is an audience favorite, I warmed to him after his introduction. Tudyk is having a banner year, he voiced Pinky in Robot Chicken and this year voiced a chicken in Moana and now a robot, I would like to see K-2Heihei. A mysterious leader is Forest Whitaker’s Saw Guerra of course introduced in the Clone Wars animated series. He serves as an almost reverse Darth Vader, partly cyborg, and relentless for his cause. There is something wounded and raw in Whittaker’s performance. Similar to ANH, there is a message and messenger hunted by the Empire and other forces. Riz Ahmed plays Bodhi Rook, like the other Rogues, he has a moment, still I don’t understand why he defected from the Empire. His character needed more development. The duo of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus are impressive. Donnie Yen plays Chirrut and it is a great part worthy of Yen. He is a believer of the Jedi, probably drawing the attention of the Inquisitors, his skill with the staff is stunning. Wen Jiang plays Baze, backing up Chirrut, his rifle can mow down stormtroopers. It’s amazing that they are not on an Imperial most wanted list. Their greatest threat comes from Director Krennic played by Ben Mendelsohn which emphasizes the power struggle within the Empire. I recall that this was in the Tarkin novel, but we get it here as Krennic has the ambition for high standing with the Emperor. I have to say that I loved seeing the hints of the presence of one character especially having seen ESB, but the rest of the audience didn’t seem to catch on until they heard the breathing. We also get the political structure of the Rebellion through Genevieve O’Reilly as Mon Mothma, but her presence makes me think she should have be in ANH. The new vehicles are interesting and the battles are intense, not for young audience members. I sense that the visual effects were grounded as well as the production design. The cameos are brilliant and built into the story. Slight criticism: the sound mix is poor, I couldn’t hear some of the dialogue, not from delivery or background noise. Also note that some of the dialogue featured in the trailers is not in the movie! Five Lightsabers out of Five!

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