Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
SPOILER WARNING – I try to keep spoilers to a minimum, however plot and characters are discussed.
I must admit I was looking forward to Rogue One. I liked the idea of a darker Star Wars film and it was bold to have this as the follow up to The Force Awakens. Okay so it takes place before A New Hope which was the first film released but if we go into timelines etc this will get confusing).
To keep things simple this is a film just before the original Star Wars (Episode 4: A New Hope). A group of rebels bands together in order to retrieve and send out the plans to the Alliance in order to inform people about the Death Star and how it could potentially wipe out whole planets. It’s essentially the opening scroll of A New Hope.
It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of film, especially as the prequel trilogy got a lot of flak. Where this differs is that it has a grimier, more lived in feel to the more technicolour ’30s serial feel of the original Star Wars films and The Force Awakens and is a total contrast to the plastic prequels (not that they’re without merit entirely; the Darth Maul lightsaber is still one of my favourite Star Wars action scenes).
A lot of credit has to go to the director Gareth Edwards. While I wasn’t a big fan of his Godzilla film you could see the potential in his work in that film and he benefits from having a strong cast in this one. While Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso gets a lot of the trailer time credit also has to go to the stoic Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen plays against type (a bit), Alan Tudyk continuing his fine voice acting work (snarky droid K-2SO) and Donnie Yen has a couple of brilliant action scenes while providing a quiet dignity as a blind disciple of the force.
There is a lot to enjoy about this film. We get a well paced story, plot holes are filled without feeling shoe-horned in and while it is a darker film there is enough humour and character moments to make it feel real, even if inevitably some seem more fleshed out than others and there is the inevitable clichéd line here and there.
Where the film slightly suffers is with Darth Vader (if you’ve seen the trailers it’s not a spoiler to say he’s in it!). He has a couple of decent scenes but for me he says one line that for me feels more like a Roger Moore era Bond villain than the ruthless space dictator we’ve come to associate with the franchise. There is also a bit of CGI on one character I found a bit distracting.
In short given the rumours of problems on set, re-shoots etc this could have been a difficult film to pull off. However as someone who enjoys Star Wars without being a fully paid up member of the Alliance I really enjoyed it and left the cinema feeling that I got a well crafted story that worked well so I would recommend even non-fans giving this a try!