Rogue One Review (contains spoilers)

Rogue One Review

Star Wars Rogue One – a new type of Star Wars movie

(contains spoilers)

In this new era of regular Star Wars movies, my viewing of Rogue One was approached with mild caution and hope, there’s always hope.

When you are such a huge Star Wars fan, it’s almost impossible to accurately judge how good a new Star Wars movie is on the first viewing. We all remember the hype machine of 1999 when The Phantom Menace was released – the first Star Wars movie for 16 years. We all swore it was a good movie, we must have – most of us watched more then five times at the theater!

More recently The Force Awakens was also similarly hyped, although this time we were spared the three months of camping outside the theater – remember that?  Now the dust has settled on The Force Awakens, I think we can safely say it’s a competent if slightly derivative episode of the saga. I bring all this up, because the real test of time is years – not days or even months to judge one movie against the other.

So for me, Rogue One starts off slowly setting up the story.  It already feels a little different with no opening crawl and no John Williams music, both firsts in a Star Wars movie.

Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in Rogue One
Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor in Rogue One

Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn. His peaceful life ends when the ambitious Imperial director Orson Krennic takes him away from his beloved family. Many years later, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, the Death Star. Knowing that her father holds the key to its destruction, a grown up Jyn joins forces with the rebels to steal the space station’s plans for the Rebel Alliance. 

Director Orson Krennic
Director Orson Krennic

Established rebel characters feature, such as Mon Mothma and General Dadonna, as well as a bunch of new heroes including Cassian Andor and reprogrammed Imperial droid K2SO to provide the sarcastic wise cracks.

Probably the main talking point of Rogue One, was bringing Peter Cushing back from the dead as character Grand Moff Tarkin thanks to recent breakthrough CGI technology. It really is a watershed moment and which makes your jaw drop the first time you see it!  The same trick is pulled at the movies conclusion with a brief scene of a young 1977 Princess Leia, to prove Tarkin wasn’t a fluke.

Vader also features in a couple of powerful scenes which adds gravitas to the Star Wars universe.

Building the Death Star against his will, Galen has intentionally left a weakness within the design, detailed in the Death Star plans stored at a data center on the Tropical planet of Scarif also the location of the Death Star’s construction.

Rogue One is a more serious Star Wars movie more suited to adults in the same vein as Empire Strikes Back or arguably Revenge of the Sith, it respectfully and nostalgically captures the same tone as A New Hope.  The second half of the movie which climaxes with the Battle of Scarif, is a lot more intense and keeps up the pace brilliantly until the end.

The standard of acting performances is top drawer for a Star Wars movie, and the action scenes are a hark back to the original movies. I particularly liked the scene where the rebel fleet turns up for battle at Scarif which reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from Return Of The Jedi.

Battle of Scarif
Battle of Scarif

The movie ends just before the start of A New Hope, and this made me want to watch ANH when I got back home!

So, is Rogue One better than The Force Awakens and the Prequels?  Probably.

But is it as good as the original movies and how does it compare to them?  Only after a few years will we really know that, but Rogue One is surprisingly great and worth watching for any weathered Star Wars fan.

George Lucas Influences Rogue One during studio tour

The Father of Star Wars George Lucas took a tour of the Rogue One Design Department

Although Lucas sold all the rights to Star Wars for $4 Billion in 2014 to Disney, the legendary visionary had ideas for The Force Awakens which were rejected in favor of J.J.Abrams plans.

However, Rogue One director Gareth Edwards recently spoke to Total Film about George Lucas’ visit to the design department.

Gareth Edwards X Wing

 

As you would expect when the creator of a franchise which has gripped the imaginations of millions takes a tour around the Rogue One design department, something was clear from the beginning to Edwards:

 

“whatever [Lucas] liked was pretty much guaranteed to be in the film,” 


Edwards says that sitting in the department was a prop that they couldn’t fit into the movie.

 

“a helmet we loved but didn’t know where to put it; there wasn’t really an opportunity to use it. [Then Lucas] walked past it and went ‘That’s cool, I like that'”


Not surprisingly then, that led to a renewed determination to put the mysterious helmet in the film, as the offhand comment by Lucas spurred Edwards into action:


“looked at each other like, ‘OK, we have to put that in the film!'”

 

Rogue One out December 15th
Rogue One out December 15th


Unfortunately, Edwards stopped short of giving us a description of the helmet in question so it’ll be hard to spot in the movie, but hopefully he’ll let us in on which one it is after the movie is released. 

Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, and Alan Tudyk, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scheduled to open in UK on December 15, 2016 and in the US a day later.

New characters from Rogue One

Excited about the first ever stand-alone Star Wars movie?

Yes, Rogue One:A Star Wars Story is out December 16th!

Word on the street is you’ll be able to catch the final trailer when Doctor Strange opens in UK cinemas later this month on October 25.

But while you wait for the trailer check out these two awesome new characters revealed by recent life-size standees:

 

First we have Moroff (and doesn’t he look just like a baby Wampa).

Maybe Chewie got lucky with a Wampa one day! 🙂

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The next character is another new Astromech droid. Its name is R2-BHD:

This R2 unit looks like a chrome deluxe version of R2-D2!

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Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Diego Luna (Captain Cassian Andor), and its terrifying new villain, Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).

Jones’s antihero Jyn is a rebel without a cause (with a gun belt “inspired by Han Solo”), and that’s exactly the kind of attitude the struggling Rebellion needs. She’s ultimately tasked with a mission from Mon Mothma: Steal the Galactic Empire’s plans for their shiny new weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star. But just as Rogue One is a different kind of Star Wars film, Jyn is a different kind of hero. Unlike heroes Luke Skywalker and Rey, Jyn has had a “very full life” before we meet her inRogue One.

Rogue One Characters
Rogue One Characters

 Similarly, Mendelsohn’s big bad is a different kind of Imperial villain. “He is smarter, I think, than most of the others,” the actor said after making a grand entrance, dressed in Krennic’s Imperial duds and flanked by a mini-army of Shadowtroopers. “He’s more inventive. He’s perhaps a little sexier that some of them — not as sexy as some of the others.”

Of course, Jyn won’t be alone in her endeavor. She’ll be joined by a group of resistance fighters. Captain Cassian Andor, her right-hand man, works intelligence for the Rebellion. Luna admits that there’s “friction” and “issues” among the team but that Cassian keeps them together. His best friend is a curmudgeonly Imperial droid that he’s reprogrammed named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk).