Friday, 16 December 2016

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Review

'The Force Awakens' breathed new life into the 'Star Wars' franchise as a rejuvenated cast combined with our favourite characters to create something truly magical. 'Rogue One' was next in line to continue the saga but we were going back in the timeline yet again. With the story not featuring a lot of the regular characters and being placed just before the original trilogy, this was the franchise's biggest risk yet.

Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) was taken away by the Empire to work on what will become the Death Star. He leaves behind a daughter, Jyn (Felicity Jones) who grows up to become rather rebellious. She is soon recruited by the Rebel Alliance to help locate her father in return for her freedom. However, as she learns more, Jyn and her team become a much bigger part in the fight against the Empire than they expected. The team now have to steal the Death Star's plans so they have the slightest chance of defeating the Empire.

The film starts off with the classic 'A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...' but with no opening scroll. The opening still does feel like a Star Wars movie as Michael Giacchino's score is Williamsesque as a large starship appears from the darkness. From this moment on, you know you're in for a ride. The opening scene is a great start to the film as we are introduced to new characters in a tranquil setting as the Empire approaches. The cinematography and performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn shine. From there, it seems as if the film is just going to spring on. However, the film's main problems come shortly after this.

The film then proceeds to introduce Jyn Erso and the rest of the characters within a short period of time. A lot of fan service is placed here as we travel to different planets as the universe is expanded fairly well. The main problem with this first acts it its character building. Our heroes don't really do anything that great or memorable to make you really care about them - apart from the wonderful droid K-2S0. It does seem as if some moments were cut out as it feels a little rushed as we don't immediately fall in love with the characters, unlike how we did to Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron in 'The Force Awakens'. This doesn't help with the emotional moments early on in the film as it aims to tug at your heartstrings but ultimately fails at doing so. In all honesty, this is my only gripe with the film as the rest grows upon this, getting better as the film progresses. 

In this Star Wars film, we get much more of the war aspect than ever before. We see conflicts in areas never seen before, with the Rebels carrying out a lot of the attacks on the unsuspecting Empire. Director Gareth Edwards did good work with 'Monsters' and 'Godzilla', and his work with action continues on here. Edwards creates a true war feeling except for the obvious changes with stormtroopers and to the guns. It was truly like if you mixed the likes of a 'Saving Private Ryan' with 'Star Wars'. There are so many great scenes within this film, both in space and on the ground as Edwards more than succeeds with the action has he sets up everything incredibly well whilst bringing a realistic look to the conflict. The aspect of sacrifice is handled superbly in this film as that is the cost of war. This adds some great emotion to the film which was lacking earlier. The final act of this film is absolutely incredible. Everything that you could possibly want is delivered in one of the best endings to a film I have seen this year. The film delivers so much in the end that you forget about the negatives as you are in utter joy watching the battles commence. Without spoiling anything, the final minutes of this film are the best which will have fans cheering after watching it. 

We get to see our characters be heroes that really make you care for them. Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen shine as the film goes on with Yen's Chirrut Imwe being one of the coolest characters to grace the Star Wars franchise. We get to see a fresh cast within this franchise and the new character do a great job. In fact, I feel that the two weakest characters were from the two most well-known actors, Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker. Other than them, the new cast does very well, bringing good emotion and moments that will have you on the edge of your seat. K-2SO improves on BB-8 last year as he is so helpful in the film and is equally hilarious. K-2SO may be the best droid that we have seen in the series as he is perfect, credit to Alan Tudyk for his performance. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are the main stars of the film and do an adequate job. They do enough within the film but they are not going to give you trouble when making your list of all time favourite characters. There was something lacking within them compared to other heroes in the franchise, although it is tough to compete with some of film's greatest characters of all time.

As for improving the franchise, 'Rogue One' most definitely does so. The film adds in details that improve the whole saga and answer some of the questions about the other films. We get a new, fresh look at some of the areas in the galaxy that we have never seen before. Darth Vader, as well as the rest of the returning characters, benefit a lot from this film despite not being in the film a lot. When you first see him, you are filled with joy and then terror when you see what he can do. 'Rogue One' is a very worthy addition to the franchise. Fans will really love this one- I know I did- but there is also enough for casual filmgoers to enjoy too. Overall, a solid addition and if the rest of the anthology are as good as this, we're in for a treat.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'? If so, what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the movie which I highly recommend! Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated.

By Angus McGregor