REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 14, 2016

Review, Theatrical, This Week 2 Comments

"This is a gorgeous and immersive film."
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REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Pauline Adamek
Year: 2016
Rating: M
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast:

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen

Distributor: Disney
Released: December 15
Running Time: 134 minutes
Worth: $18.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

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.

Comments

  1. Patrick

    Rogue One is unlike other Star Wars films the story is dark with a lot of fast pace action without the usual Star Wars humor or the fairy tale happy ever after ending with surprise a twist that leads to the original Star Wars films. I wouldn’t recommend Rogue One as a take the family or drop off the kids school holiday viewing film. If your a real diehard Star Wars fan you’ll will really like this film.

  2. Richard Barcaricchio

    I think the best way to sum up this film is that it was made for the children of Star Wars that have now grown up – as Gareth Edwards has.

    It explores, through Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor, the question of whether ‘the ends justifies the means’. He is a hard boiled Rebel spy, prepared to kill both friend and foe alike in order to achieve his mission, and he is paying a moral price for it.

    This fascinating – and ‘deep for a Star Wars movie’ – thematic question is also the film’s main flaw: we are told that Felicity Jones’ character, Jyn Erso, is the Hero the audience should engage with, but this just isn’t true. She is yet another victim of the poor choices that Cassian Andor’s character makes as he journeys to redemption. We just happen to see things from her point of view a lot.

    This results in a noooot quite cathartic connection to the otherwise compelling and clearly executed story, culminating in a stand-off between Jyn and Ben Mendelssohn’s antagonist character, Orson Krennic, which is resolved by… you guessed it, Cassian. Not supposed to be the hero, but it is he that defeats the villain.

    I’m focusing on the negative here; this film is easily one hundred times better than Force Awakens. As I said, the story is compelling and directed with clarity, the battles are full of pithy and the end is emotional and satisfying. A huge step in the right direction for the franchise as they move ever forward in search of parity with The Empire Strikes Back. Highly recommended.

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