Ok this is a spinoff I can get behind. More like a prequel, Star Wars: Rogue One ties the episodes bridging Revenge of the Sith to A New Hope with a lovely bow. Despite two decades between drinks for those films, and another decade to this release, finally the timeline of a galaxy far, far away makes a lot more sense.
Beyond this, it is just a damn good movie.
Gareth Edwards has directed a film that somehow feels unique and fresh despite being so idiosyncratically Star Wars. It stars Felicity Jones as Jyn, daughter of the mastermind designer behind the ‘Death Star’, a space base facility the size of a small moon, with the ability to destroy planets… I don’t need to get too in depth right? Who doesn’t know the general gist of Star Wars?
Rogue One follows Jyn, who is offered a chance at freedom and redemption at a time when the Empire is growing from strength to strength, and the waning Rebellion is struggling and desperate after the abolition of the Jedi. Picking up a motley crew along the way of a very racially diverse cast all with their own cool quips and quirks, Jyn travels across many planets in search of her father and for the plans to the Death Star, after she learns a crucial piece of information vital to the survival of the Alliance.
Weaved masterfully throughout this story is the feeling of scale and gravitas. Jyn is torn internally and is a bit of a closed book, but working alongside amazing characters like Cassian Andor, Bodhi Rook and even a sardonic AI called K-2SO (and he’s a bit of a scene stealer) brings her out of her shell, and also builds an epic comradery building the simply perfect final climax.
There’s a good amount of fan service too, we are given glimpses into the Roman Numeral Iterations – of which I won’t spoil here – but I will say Darth Vader’s scene(s) are spectacular, and hearing James Earl Jones as the voice again gave me shivers.
The film doesn’t hold your hand, it definitely has a far darker tone, the cinematography is gritty and the editing is frenetic and pacey, constantly leaving you on edge. Ben Mendelsohn is properly menacing but is merely a vessel to link us to some CGI versions of characters from A New Hope and the good guy characters are guilty of that too, but technology is at a level where it’s suitable and dare-I-say believable, so it’s a fault I can forgive.
Rogue One works on almost every level – looks good, flows good, feels good; is good. Gareth Edwards has made up for Godzilla here, and there’s now a hope all the Star Wars spin-offs to come will achieve this same level of goodness.