So it’s finally here ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ what a time to be a Star Wars fan with ‘The Force Awakens’ last December and now Rogue One; The highly anticipated first anthology movie of the Star Wars Universe. I got to go to an Exclusive Screening last night which included a Q&A session with some of the cast, director Gareth Edwards and producer Kathleen Kennedy. (See video below at the end of this review) Please note this is the spoiler free review!
So what did I think? Well like Jek Porkins in ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ – I was blown away! It’s a very gritty and surprisingly less child friendly Star Wars movie, the key word being “War”. It is very much a war movie. It has the nostalgic feel of movies such as the ‘The Dirty Dozen’ or ‘A Bridge Too Far’. It is very much a Gareth Edwards Star Wars movie and you can tell that he is a massive fan of the franchise.
This film is for the original Star Wars generation and it really does cater for the hardcore Star Wars fans. There are plenty of Easter Eggs and references to the original trilogy that fans will enjoy and plenty more to find on second or third viewings.
So what did I like? It’s a Star Wars movie but it is very much a different Star Wars movie! Gareth Edwards has a great eye for action and there are some great sequences and shots used in some of the battle scenes. (Look out for an awesome X-Wing perspective)
The new characters that we are introduced to are very grounded, but the standout character is K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. I’m not saying that the other characters are weak because they are all very strong, but K-2SO has some great moments and classic lines and I’m sure he will become a fan favourite. K-2SO is the most developed character and he brings the needed humour which helps break up the dark moments in this movie. I’m very glad his lines were kept out of the trailers and I think cinema goers will be surprised on how good this character is.
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is very natural in the role and very believable and it’s great to see a strong female lead in a Star Wars movie. Diego Luna gives a great performance as Cassian Andor and his character gives added dimensions to the Rebel Alliance and how sometimes they achieve their objectives. I also enjoyed the strong performances of Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker and Ben Mendelsohn who is a very good villain.
What I also liked about this movie is how it ties in the prequel trilogy, the original trilogy and even the Star Wars animated show ‘Star Wars: Rebels’. It is all very well done and nothing is really shoehorned in. Other characters that we know from this Universe do appear, but they all serve a purpose and serves the story. Not to mention there is some great use of new technology!
The editing in the battle sequences is very good. You don’t get lost with the characters and when it switches between different battles that are going on it feels very natural.
There are not many things I can nit-pick about this movie. *No spoiler* as it has been announced by Kathleen Kennedy there is no crawl text at the beginning and for me I really missed it, but I think this will be the way that Disney / Lucasfilm will distinguish the Star Wars anthology movies and the new Star Wars trilogy.
I also missed the John Williams score. A John Williams score is a key element to a Star Wars movie and I really missed certain themes and was slightly disappointed with Michael Giacchino’s score, but I believe he was a last minute replacement due to the reshoots and I can live with that. The only other slight nit-pick is like Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla this does seem slow in the middle but saying that it does truly deliver in the 3rd act which is very action packed and powerful.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and dare I say it, I preferred this movie over The Force Awakens and I think this is best Star Wars movie since the original trilogy. I can’t wait to see it again. This movie takes some chances but the force is strong with Gareth Edwards and he has delivered. It’s a great start to this new anthology series and this film is a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise.