REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen
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This is a gorgeous and immersive film.
The latest Star Wars installment, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is big on the “wow” factor, reminding us that the vivid worlds of this long-running franchise are ones that we love to return to, time and again.
Technically a spin-off, this is the first Star Wars Anthology film – a standalone story set shortly before the events of the original Star Wars movie of 1977 that triggered millions of sci-fi fans to geek out for years to come. In it, a band of Rebel spies conspire to steal the design schematics of a devastating weapon invented by the evil Galactic Empire…you know, The Death Star.
Rogue One’s story is solid and not overly complicated. The characters are fairly mundane, but their embodiment by fine actors from across the globe is what helps this movie to match the iconic status of most in the long-running and beloved franchise. Brit Felicity Jones is excellent as the film’s hero, Jyn Erso, carrying the storyline with ease, while Danish star, Mads Mikkelsen, is powerful as her father, Galen Erso. Mexican actor, Diego Luna, provides Jyn with an emotionally complex companion, and we get a taste of the C-3PO factor with the robot character of K-2SO, a Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer droid voiced by Alan Tudyk with a suitably dry wit. Hong Kong wushu champion, Donnie Yen, dazzles as Chirrut Îmwe, a skilled warrior whose lack of eyesight is in no way an impediment to his martial arts moves, evoking the legendary and fictional blind Japanese samurai, Zatōichi.
Ben Mendelssohn is truly outstanding as the primary antagonist, engendering a genuine antipathy with his imperious demeanour that’s mingled with some job-security vulnerability to flesh out his role as Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research. It’s clear that the actor starved himself for the role too, bringing a haunted and gaunt look, as well as implying the hunger of his ambition.
Under Gareth Edwards’ more than capable direction, the movie flows with an elegant if brisk pace. The CGI renderings of all the various locations seen throughout the movie are epic in scope and astonishing in their plausible detail. This is a gorgeous and immersive film. The impact of The Death Star, when unleashed, conveys the terrifying beauty of annihilation, and disturbingly recalls the recent devastation of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Featuring plenty of speccy battles and kewl explosions, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an action-packed space adventure that, even with its 2 hours and 20 minutes running time, never drags.