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Rogue One had to be the most anticipated movie of the holiday season. It may have also been anticipated to be different from any other Star Wars film before. That makes sense considering this is more of a spin off than a sequel or prequel. There is still the same spirit and wonder as the previous films, but there is something new in Rogue One.

Plot

Young Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) gets separated from her father Galen (Mads Mikkelson) when he was taken to create a weapon that will eventually become the Death Star. Years later, Jyn and a pilot named Cassian (Diego Luna) are recruited by the Rebellion to retrieve her father in order to understand more about the weapon he created . Along the way, they learn there is a weakness in the Death Star that can be revealed in the blueprints hidden on enemy base. So, Jyn puts together a rag tag team to steal the plans of the Death Star and get closer to winning the war.

Directing/Writing

Gareth Edwards, who also directed the recent Godzilla movie in 2014, held the reins for this film. Directing was certainly different from the style of J.J. Abrams and George Lucas. This felt more like a war movie, set in Vietnam at the end. Some may be put off by that if they prefer the classic space opera, but I think it is refreshing to see a new element in a Star Wars film. Besides, this is meant to be a spin off with its' own separate story that coincides with the other films.

It was clever how the story connected to all the other Star Wars movies in some way. Explaining the defect of the Death Star was clever. I'm not sure what was in mind when Star Wars: Episode IV was made, but seeing how the Death Star was able to get blown up makes sense now. The backstory between some of the characters seem rushed, in particular the relationship between Jyn Erso and Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). It was one scene of fast paced dialogue and that's it. That's all the explanation we get for their history. Remembering all the names of people and places in the film may be hard unless you are a hard core Star Wars fan. For some reason those names don't stick in my mind as much as Han Solo or Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Acting

Left to right: Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Wen Jiang, Donnie Yen.
Left to right: Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Wen Jiang, Donnie Yen.

Felicity Jones played the lead character of Jyn Erso. She was fine but at times she tend to be bland. There wasn't much expression in her face. Despite that, I'm glad Star Wars is pushing to have more female leads. We could always use a good heroine like Rey and Princess Leia. The supporting characters were very likable, especially the droid K-2SO played by Alan Tudyk. The snarky bad ass robot stole all the scenes he was in. Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior with great faith in the force, was played Donnie Yen with charm and toughness. His martial arts skills were utilized in this film. It was exciting to see a different way of fighting.

K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk.
K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk.

Special Effects/Music/etc.

Another new addition to the film is the lack of scrolling text, or crawl, at the beginning. We get this classic line, though:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Why have that tagline if there is no scrolling text to explain the plot? It just seems pointless. Sure, there is not much to explain with the plot, but there shouldn't be one without the other.

The special effects were impressive though. A character previously played by the late Peter Cushing was brought back with the magic of CGI. It looked like he was actually there. The team did this with another character, but that's not seen until the end. So, I won't spoil it in case whoever reading this hasn't seen the movie yet.

Even the music was its' own identity. Michael Giacchino conducted the magical score. He previous works include Star Trek Beyond, Jurassic World, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So, he is obviously no stranger to blockbuster films.

Conclusion

Rogue One was an enjoyable stand alone film that managed to have it's own story while still transporting me to the world of Star Wars. There were unique side characters, exciting action (especially in the end), and the return of Darth Vader was an added bonus. I don't think it compares to Empire Strikes Back, but it has the potential to be just as good. So, if you love Star Wars but are looking for something new, Rouge One is worth the view. My Rating: 8.5/10

This review is dedicated to Carrie Fisher. R.I.P. Princess Leia. May the Force be with you.

You liked this review? Feel free to check out my other movie reviews here:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

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Netflixer Reviews: Nightcrawler

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