Friday, 14 April 2017

Rogue One

Year of Release:  2016
Director:  Gareth Edwards
Screenplay:  Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, based on characters created by George Lucas
Starring:  Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker,
Running Time:  134 minutes
Genre:  Science-fiction, action, adventure

Jyn Erso (Jones) is a young convict, who is rescued by the Rebel Alliance.  Jyn's father, Galen (Mikkelsen), is a scientist who has been recruited by the evil Galactic Empire to work on a devastating new weapon known as the Death Star, which has the power to destroy an entire planet.  Jyn is partnered with Cassian Andor (Luna) on a mission to find and rescue her father, so that the Alliance can learn more about the Death Star.  However, unbeknownst to her, Andor's orders are to kill Galen.

If you remember the opening text to Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) about the Rebel spies stealing the plans for the Death Star, well this is their story, expanding a scant few words into a two hour plus film.  The Star Wars series made a triumphant return to screens in 2015 with The Force Awakens, and the current thinking is that there will be a new Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future with a new entry in the ongoing storyline every two years, and in the interim a standalone film set in the Star Wars universe but not part of the ongoing saga.  Rogue One is the first of these standalone films, although it is intrinsically linked to the Star Wars storyline.  This does not open with the Star Wars title, or have the traditional opening text crawl.  It's also darker and grittier, more of a war movie in space.  Set just before the first Star Wars film, it manages the difficult task of combining cutting edge digital special effects, with technology that would not look out of place in that first film back in 1977, for example the Death Star plans are contained in what looks like an old Betamax cassette, which gives it a nice, chunky physical appeal.  It's a film full of adventure, excitement, and entertainment for Star Wars fans old and new, combined with some stunning visuals and real emotional heft at times.   Cutting edge digital effects allow for moving cameos from some favorite characters.  With appealing characters, well-played by the cast, the conclusion of the film has some real weight to it.

Felicity Jones in Rogue One

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