Movie Review: Rogue One
No clever opening, just a review.
If you remember the opening crawl of Star Wars (aka A New Hope) it mentions "rebel spies" who managed to steal the plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon. At this point you've probably read enough reviews to know what the plot is, characters etc. But for those who didn't a brief outline: the Rebel Alliance receives word of a defecting Imperial pilot containing a message concerning a super weapon. They dispatch an officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and a young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to find the pilot and the message. Before too long they discover it links to Jyn's scientist father, an over-ambitions Imperial officer and a weapon that can bring destruction to the galaxy.
Going into Rogue One, one disadvantage is that we know how this story ends. But director Gareth Edwards and his cast and crew turn that to their strongest asset as they bring a film that, as promised, is a ground look at the struggle that dominated the original trilogy. In fact Rogue One is a war movie, with elements of the "men on a mission" film as Jyn and company have to band together to get the plans. They know their mission is possibly doomed to failure but they try because if they don't no one will,
Like most Star Wars movies, this one brings out the big guns in terms of action and visual effects, especially during the last hour as the team breaks into the Imperial stronghold to get the plans while a fierce ground battle and space battle ensues, matching the finale of Return of the Jedi for scope. The performers-while not giving much to work with character-wise-also manage to keep things moving with special props for Donnie Yen as a warrior-monk who believes in the Force and Alan Tudyk's motion captured droid K-2S0 stealing the show.
Of course I also will mention yes that Darth Vader is here (as the trailers confirmed) and reminds us of what a frightening villain he is. In fact his final scene is the most horrifying of any Star Wars movie ever.
Yes there are nitpicks and some questionable choices (like some CGI used to bring back a familiar character) but even then they are forgiven as the film reaches its climax. In fact I'll state I actually liked this film more than The Force Awakens as a sheer visceral experience and story. Go and see it. Rating: **** out of 4.