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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

With the release of last year’s outstanding EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS, the STAR WARS brand was reinvigorated in a way that previously seemed impossible. The daunting specter of the much maligned Episodes 1-3 became a distant memory, and the future was filled with hope and excitement. 

There are a slew of STAR WARS projects in the works, and we should see a new chapter in the saga each and every year for the foreseeable future. Some of these will be a continuation of the plotlines established in Episodes 4-7, and others will be stand-alone adventures that revolve around established characters and original stories. The first of these, ROGUE ONE, debuted in theaters in December, and once again proved that STAR WARS has officially solidified itself as the most formidable franchise in all of cinema.

When the plot of ROGUE ONE was initially released, I will admit that I was immensely skeptical. Taking place before the events of NEW HOPE, it was to be the story of how the Rebel Alliance was able to procure the plans of the Death Star in order to destroy it. I, like many others I would imagine, thought that it was just about time to move away from storylines revolving around the Death Star. I mean, how many different ways can they tell a tale about the Empire’s ill-fared weapon of mass destruction? Compile this with the fact that Disney executives were unhappy with the first cut of the film and demanded extensive re-shoots, there was plenty of room for further doubt and concern.

Despite the shroud of uncertainty that enveloped the production prior to its release date, it dissipated in the opening minutes of the massively entertaining and exciting ROGUE ONE. At the center of the story is Jyn (Felicity Jones) the daughter of scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who was one of the chief architect’s of the Death Star. Seeking to clear her father’s name and hoping to achieve redemption for herself in the process, she and Rebel analyst Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) set out on a seemingly impossible mission.

The blistering pace and intensity of ROGUE ONE allows the film, and the franchise, to venture into dark and uncharted territories. The word “war” has never been more applicable than it is this time around, as much of the charm and whimsy of the previous installments is largely vacant this time around. There are brief moments of effective humor, mostly delivered by an enforcer droid named K-2SO(Alan Tudyk) although these snippets are few and far between.    

We may never know that the original cut of the film looked like, but whatever was done during the re-shoot process, it worked. Director Gareth Edwards production is filled with stunning scenery, dazzling special effects, and thrilling battles. The devastation reaped by the Death Star is as marvelous to behold as it is terrifying. Even with the knowledge of how ROGUE ONE is going to end, audiences will love following the path that Jyn and her companions must follow in order to get there. This point is made all the more impressive when you make the realization that, for the first time, the story itself is larger than the characters who are portrayed in it. This is because it is a stand-alone adventure whose follow-up adventure has already been told. In the original trilogy, and equally in THE FORCE AWAKENS, there are characters who are endearing and enthralling. Whether they were part of the Rebellion or the Empire, the audience is invested in their success and/or failure. It is one of the rare sagas in cinema where the villains are as beloved as the heroes, and their legacy spans decades rather than minutes. This endearment, however, is not applicable in ROGUE ONE. The majority of these characters will never be seen again, yet the impact of their actions lays the foundation to the entire franchise. This is not to say, however, that the performances are subpar. In fact, Felicity Jones provides a turn that is one of the strongest in the entire STAR WARS canon. She is a unique talent that has proven that she can churn out an Oscar caliber performance in an emotional drama (THEORY OF EVERYTHING) yet can also carry an action film with relative ease. It is abundantly clear that her trajectory, as well as the STAR WARS franchise as a whole, will continue to soar for years to come.


A special thanks goes to Regal Cinemas at Destiny USA for allowing me to attend this month’s film.

Rogue One


RUN TIME: 2h 13min

GENRE: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

STARRING: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker

DIRECTORs: Gareth Edwards

Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta

Brian Miller