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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Coming Soon

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an obsessive culture was born. This culture would only grow stronger as the years passed. A movie that was simply known as Star Wars (1977) (later called by its “proper name”, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) captured the imagination of people everywhere and it never let go. Almost 40 years later fans are just as passionate as they were when this phenomenon first took the world by storm. Two sequels and three prequels later we thought we had seen the end of the storied franchise.

Disney stepped in and decided to supersize things a bit. A new trilogy was announced (episodes 7 – 9) along with at least three spin-offs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) hit theaters last December and it just annihilated the box office competition. The long awaited “Episode VII” laid the groundwork for where things are heading. Thankfully director J.J. Abrams was able to avoid the George Lucas missteps of the less-than-spectacular prequels. It was always assumed that Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005) would tie in nicely to the events that occurred in the beginning of the fourth chapter. Sadly, there was still a large gap between the two movies. FINALLY some light will be shed on this dark time. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has arrived and brings with it tons of excitement, a great story and even some answers to questions that you may or may not have even thought to ask.

The Imperial Forces are on a warpath in their continuous attempt to bring “peace” to the galaxy. The Rebel Alliance see their movement as oppression. The struggle has gone on for ages and there’s no end in sight, literally. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story focuses on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as she finds herself smack dab in the middle of the struggle. She teams up with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his trusty robot companion, K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), both of which are part of the Rebel Alliance. On the opposing side is Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) who is pretty much the head of the spear of the Imperial Forces that Jyn and her group goes up against. The fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance as good battles evil.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a timeline that takes place sometime after the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and just before the events of A New Hope (1977). I suppose you could call it “Episode 3.5” if that makes you feel better. Gareth Edwards (Monsters (2010), Godzilla (2014)) handles this project like a champ and pays great respect to the legacy of the franchise without going overboard. He uses great balance in telling his story. For the first time, this is a story that DOESN’T revolve around the Jedi. Sure there are some aspects, I mean how could you have a Star Wars movie and not mention them? The difference here is that they are not the focal point to the story. Audiences will experience more of the human element rather than the supernatural powers of the Force. This is a welcome change given the fact that we’ve been there, done that far too many times before.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is all about change actually. This is evident from the opening sequence of the film. Keen eyes will quickly notice that the all too familiar upward scrolling yellow block introductory text is missing for the first time in the franchise. Since this is technically a spinoff, it was creatively decided that they’d do things a little different. Without the intro, viewers are going into the first parts of the movie blind, and that’s okay by me. Even knowing the eventual end game does not take away from the enjoyment factor of the this movie. Actually, if anything, it enhances it. As I stated earlier, there are questions answered that should bring smiles to the faces of many enthusiasts.

From a casting standpoint, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story went in a smart direction. Actors that can bring engaging characters to life on screen are in abundance here. Felicity Jones (Inferno (2016), A Monster Calls (2016)) is having one heck of a year and she’s shown great flexibility and range in her roles. Diego Luna (Blood Father (2016)) displays great passion. Forest Whitaker (Arrival (2016)), Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange (2016)), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler (2014)) and Donnie Yen (Ip Man 3 (2015)) all play valuable roles as well. One actor who is not actually physically seen is Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity (2005)) but he totally steals the show every chance he gets. Prepare to fall in love. Poor Jar Jar Binks has finally been put out to pasture. The curse of the terrible comic relief sidekick has finally come to an end.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has the grit and purpose that has been lacking in the majority of movies from the franchise. You probably have to go back to Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) in order to get anything close to this intensity. That is a huge compliment for all that this team has accomplished here. The balance between all of the facets of what makes this franchise so enjoyable is borderline genius. If the quality is indicative of what’s to come in future spin-offs, Episode VIII and IX might have some very stiff competition from within. If this is the case, Disney will continue to win with their ever-growing embarrassment of riches. Check this one out in theaters as soon as possible.

Editor’s note: I actually prefer to label Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as a companion piece above anything else. Also, while not required, seeing the original trilogy will go a long way in getting the most out of this feature but seeing the prequels…not so much.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler


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