Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Nicolas Macotto

4 = Great; 3 = Good; 2 = Fair; 1 = Poor; 0 = Ooh, let’s not go there
Star Rating: 3.5/4
            What do you expect when you watch a Star Wars movie?  If you expect the iconic theme composed by John Williams and a few paragraphs of context in a yellow font during the first couple of minutes of the film, you’re not going to get that with Rogue One.  That’s just one of several distinctions that can be made upon viewing the latest installment in the ever-growing saga.  The Star Wars movies that are real crowd-pleasers seem to offer this: mind-blowing special effects, exciting thrills and both decent acting and characterization.  Rogue One has all of that and more.
            Set between the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and the original Star Wars(1977) film, the protagonist of this installment is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) who witnessed Imperial forces murder her mother (Valene Kane) and kidnap her father (Mads Mikkelsen) when she was a child.  Her parents tell her to rendezvous with family acquaintance Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) beforehand and he looks after her until he abandons her at the age of sixteen.  Jyn turns to a life of crime to survive and the first shot of her in the movie as an adult is her sleeping in a prison cell with an alien cellmate.  She is transported to another prison facility but is approached by Rebel forces to find her father so the rebels can find out anything they can about a new weapon the empire has created that can destroy entire planets.  They recruit her since Jyn’s father helped construct it.
           As a character, Jyn can be summarized in this sense: a rebel with the guts to rebel against the rebellion.  She does go rogue but not in the sense you’re probably thinking about.  With Felicity Jones portraying her, you get a beautiful woman on the outside but a woman who is strong enough on the inside to do her own thing and not let anyone stop her.  However, Jones goes deep into Jyn’s core and manages to plays her with raw vulnerability at exactly the right moments necessary.
            To go on with the performances, Alan Tudyk voicing the robot K-2SO helps makes this film a delight to watch.  K-2SO was originally an Imperial robot but was reprogrammed by the rebels to be on their side.  Tudyk uses a monotone voice expected from most robots in other movies, but probably not Transformers (2007), and use it to his advantage.  The best way to think about K-2SO is as a more comedic version C-3PO with a deadpan sense of humor and a bit of an attitude.  Either that or you could think of him as C-3PO with the traits of R2-D2.  Most of the humor is from him.  The Force Awakens (2015) had a lot more humor than Rogue One but that was necessary to reintroduce a Star Wars movie to the public.  With that now taken care of, things can be serious.
            The director of this film, Gareth Edwards, is known for making a couple of monster movies such as Godzilla (2014) so this is new territory for him as it does take place in a galaxy far, far away.  Despite that, Edwards has provided something that diehards will love.  He makes many references and visual connections to both the original and prequel trilogy.  For an example that is rather peculiar, Saw Gerrera has a portable inhaler that he uses which can remind you of the Sith villain who wheezed and coughed most of the time, whatever his name was.  As for the original trilogy, the sets will practically be a blast from the past.

Another factor that adds to the nostalgia is the score by Michael Giacchino.  Even though he borrows elements from pieces already composed by John Williams, he borrows small samples but provides something unique and fresh.  The result is something wonderful you can expect from him.  The biggest aspect of all is the visual effects.  They were, of course, spectacular for audiences back in 1977 and are as spectacular as films in this era such as Gravity (2013) with more advanced technology to achieve those effects.

Now that you know you can anticipate everything you want for Rogue One, just wait.  It has surprises by the decker ready for you.  Towards the end, they just keep coming.  It is so relentless in terms of how they present them that it will leave you at a loss for words.  Again, diehards will love it.  Anyone who does not fit in that category will most likely enjoy it as well.  Rogue One does not disappoint.