Reviews

Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A, 2hrs 13mins)

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“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,

There’s a Staaar Wars movie ouuuuuuut!”

Since Disney acquired the rights to the cash-machine that is Star Wars they have been releasing a film in this franchise every December, with Episode VIII being released this time next year, too. They did a fantastic job of reintroducing the space-opera with The Force Awakens and now they have gone back in the timeline to make a film that is sandwiched between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Is it a creative decision to explore the rich history of this revered film series and bring a quality piece of cinema to the discerning movie-goer, or a capitalistic attempt to rake in more money from action figures and lunch boxes adorning the faces of older characters who are long gone who Disney cannot wring any more cash out of?

Who knows, who cares, as this is a triumph!

rg-02When former Death Star scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is taken away from his family to finish his work on the Empire’s super-weapon, his daughter, Jyn, manages to escape their clutches. Fifteen years later, with Jyn (Felicity Jones) now a prisoner of the Imperial Guard, the Rebel Alliance rescues her from captivity and asks for her help to track down her father in an attempt to halt the construction of the weapon that will strengthen the Empire’s stranglehold on the galaxy…

This is the Star Wars film that the prequels should have been. It is a dark and brooding tale that is perfect for the fan that grew up watching the original trilogy but remains child-friendly to keep this a family film, unlike the plastic-fantastic CGI mess that ended up being the prequels, with scripts so badly written that they insulted the intelligence of the children they was aimed at! The cinematography is breathtakingly dynamic and creative, and the visuals are striking and live long in the memory for days afterwards. It’s as if Disney employed an artist who is a massive fan of the series to create the most inventive and sumptuous works of art that they can imagine, which were then handed to director Gareth Edwards to deftly weave into the film. It is an astonishing treat for the eyes, with CGI that complements and blends impeccably with its tangible surroundings. The script is solid with a good pace and much-needed lighter moments to elevate the darker tone of this film. It also connects Episodes III and IV seamlessly. Despite every Star Wars fan knowing how this story ends, there were still moments of excitement and tension that must have been difficult to build under the well-known circumstances. The action-scenes are up there amongst the very best that Star Wars has to offer, too. Gareth Edwards has done a sublime job of this film and I’m sure it was no easy task…

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However, there are a few gripes that stop this from becoming my fifth 10/10 movie of the year. Whilst some of the nods to Episode III and IV are welcome and necessary to further the plot, there are a few that feel embarrassingly shoe-horned in. These jolted me out of the film as it reeked of Disney interference because they were in no way vital to the story and only served as a wink and a hat-tip to the fans. All that was missing was a George Lucas voice-over shouting: “There you go, did you see that? That’s for you, that bit there!” Ah well, Gareth, I suppose you can’t have it all your own way. What is under his control rg-04though is the performances of his principal players. While most give solid, if unremarkable, turns, some of the actors are very wooden indeed. Alan Tudyk’s K-2S0 is by far the standout performance, and the character is a CGI motion-capture droid that doesn’t have the full range of expressions of his human counterparts. Says it all really…

This is so close to perfection that it’s frustrating that some easily remedied scenes have held it back. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend everyone go and see it, whether you are a Star Wars fan or not.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the supermarket to buy my Darth Vader lunch box and action figure, y’know, in-case-they-become-valuable-in-fifty-years’-time-and-not-to-be-used-or-played-with-at-all…

08/10.

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