Rogue One Review

Warning: This review may contain spoilers

The Plot

A group of lost causes band together in a plot to retrieve the plans for the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star.

The Good

Director Gareth Edwards joins the Star Wars saga in this, the first Star Wars Story set between the main episodes (unless you count the infamous Holiday Special), in this case between the prequel and original trilogy, telling the story behind the plans for the Death Star.

Opening with an interesting though perhaps not necessarily planned alternative take on the opening crawl, synonymous with the saga, Rogue One instantly sets itself up as a film both completely removed from the usual formula yet still honouring its roots. Felicity Jones heads the cast as Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson) chief engineer of the Death Star, who is recruited by the rebellion in an effort to find her father for information.

What sets Rogue One aside from its brother saga is undoubtedly its action sequences. Edwards manages to bring harrowing war sequences to life both on the ground and in the air with real gravitas. It’s a refreshingly realistic take on sci-fi war that instantly apes any attempts previously made in the series so far.

The Bad

With Rogue One chronicling the timeline leading right up to A New Hope, it’s inevitable that some familiar faces will return to the screen. The main face of course being everybody’s favourite Sith Lord, Darth Vader. His return to the big screen is quite simply triumphant, albeit only in the latter half. His one scene preceding the already much discussed fight sequence does dampen things slightly thanks to an awkwardly placed pun which just feels out of place and out of character.

The other main returning face is that of Peter Cushing’s General Tarkin. Just as with Vader, Tarkin is a vital role that would make Rogue One feel extremely lacking if it wasn’t included. And in the few scenes he turns up it’s clear that the production team have put every effort into rendering the likeness of Cushing. Unfortunately all this work feels ultimately pointless. While the effort is admirable the simple truth is that it still looks obviously fake. Due in large part to the fact that any Star Wars fan would know as soon as Cushing appears that it can’t be. What’s especially disappointing is the fact that this could have been so easily averted by either recasting the role or keeping the appearances minimalistic, perhaps covering his face in shadow which would have been just as effective if not more so. Instead Tarkin begins to stick out like a sore thumb the more he is used.

The third and last issue of returning faces comes from the two faces who are the constant s throughout the entire franchise and ironically aren’t technically faces. R2-D2 and C3PO make the briefest of cameos in what feels like a very shoehorned in scene that serves just to keep the record going. It’s a shame that they don’t make one final appearance at the very end to make the appearance feel warranted.

The Ugly Truth

Rogue One manages to successfully stand apart from the Star Wars Saga while still able to keep it’s connections. While the attempts to do this through returning characters doesn’t tend to work particularly well, Gareth Edwards’ fantastically realistic action sequences and Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso are more than enough to bring you back into A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away.

Review by Johnny Ellis

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