Review 03.2016 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”

There are many quotable lines in this film, but I think this one resonates with me (and many others) the most. The mantra of Chirrut Imwe, Guardian of the Whills, embodies the feeling that this, much like The Force Awakens last year, has brought back into the heart of all SW fans.

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I am an unabashed Star Wars fan. From watching A New Hope on VHS, through the Prequels, and onto these new instalments. It is ingrained in me, and indelibly etched into my skin.

With that in mind, I can honestly say that this is the film Star Wars fans have waited since 1983 for. I would say it’s the best SW film we have had since Empire. A bold statement to some, but one I feel is warranted.

From the outset, despite the lack of opening crawl following the iconic words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” Rogue One has the feel of an original trilogy Star Wars movie.

Gareth Edwards has done an amazing job in taking us back to a time when the empire reigned supreme. As a fanboy himself, he has managed to keep incredibly true to the originals, including using clips from the cutting room floor of A New Hope, but utilising all the tricks of modern day cinema (no spoilers but CGI has been used to reintroduce some old faces ☺).

The story is well known, if not the minutiae of how it occurred, and anyone familiar with the SWU will realise how the film is going to end, but it doesn’t ruin the thrill ride of how we get there.

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Characters are established early and well. Diego Luna plays a conflicted Cassian Andor, who we are not sure whether we like at first but turns into the Han Solo of the piece. Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang put in star turns as Chirrut and Baze, creating a depth of feeling that resonates throughout. Alan Tudyk is scene-stealing as K-2SO, witty quips and one liners that quickly establish him as one of the best droid characters in the series. Felicity Jones shines as Jyn, and any misgivings about another female protagonist are quickly dispelled. She carries the weight of the film ably and does not let us down. Ben Mendelssohn provides the perfect heel for our heroes.

The story moves quickly. There are no stagnant points, nor does it feel like anything is rushed. Those scenes where we see progression of the storyline are key and well acted, but it is in the action where we find some of the most well shot sequences I have seen in a sci-fi film.

Edwards use of handheld cameras for parts of the action was an attempt to produce scenes that are reminiscent of classics like ‘Saving Private Ryan’, and they are! Gritty, painful, heartbreaking in some cases and not sparing you from the harsh reality of galactic war. Indeed, this has to be the SW film with the highest visible body count, yet none of it seems gratuitous.

Epic space battles, which have become a stalwart part of the action in the series, were not left out with some incredibly poignant moments that I won’t spoil! Suffice it to say, those who are familiar with the SWU will notice some cracking nods to the other films.

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On that note, there are a variety of Easter eggs placed through the film that will satisfy any fan, and it will take further viewings to make sure you catch them all.

This is probably longer than usual, but the film is worthy of high praise and one that I will watch again and again.

4.5/5 lightsabers.

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