Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (d. Gareth Edwards USA 2016)

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis at the bottom for any who wish to see one.

Entertainment:

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Performances:

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Predictability:

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Technical:

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Star Wars (d. George Lucas USA 1977), a film of good vs evil in a rebellion against an oppressive Empire. Aided by powerful Jedi Knights the rebellion are able to gain the upper hand. The Jedi are instantly able to capture the imagination of many as they combine the basic elements of religions and being powerful swordsmen with psychic powers. They are the superheroes of Star Wars and are so inspiring to have inspired their own religion on Earth – Jedi. But, what about the Rebellion? Maybe because the rebels had a desperate hope to them as opposed to the calm power of the Jedi, but I always wondered about them. Or perhaps because there were many more of them and there was a rich expansive universe that could be touched upon. Whatever the reason I was looking forward to an idea like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (d. Gareth Edwards USA 2016) (or Rogue One).  Rogue One wouldn’t be focusing on the Skywalker family but the other rebels and the film fits in before Star Wars and after Revenge of the Sith. This could be quite a film.

With a Sci-Fi, fantasy epic like this we’re going to see CGI and almost immediately we see something that the Director, Gareth Edwards, seems to be really good at: scale. The hight and depth of landscapes, spaceships, explosions and vehicles can really be felt. They tower above us and impose their size. However, one of the best technical marvels of Rogue One that I really want to mention is a real piece of cinema magic. Post-humously with CGI and Motion Capture  technology, Grand Moff Tarkin is played by Peter Cushing (1913-1994). As far as I’m aware this hasn’t been done before. Similar things were achieved with Tron: Legacy (d. Joseph Kosinski USA 2010) and again in this film, in making characters appear much younger – Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Rogue One. A step forward and amazing things are happening. (An argument could be made for the actors, voice actors or even CGI designers are playing the roles instead but the end effect is the same.)

Now contemporary cinema seems to be concerning itself a lot with nostalgia (this and this touches upon it and i do, myself, in my Archives 20152014 and 2013) and Rogue One is a perfect ‘Tribute Film’. That is to say it’s devotion to characters and other films goes more than a homage. Moments in Star Wars aren’t referenced they are built to. SPOILERS. Best example is the mission of the Death Star Plans giving such weight and importance as to make things expendable; it goes beyond a nod in a similar shot or cameo (though there’s those too). END OF SPOILERS. Adding to this I want to mention character introductions and moments having such gravitas as to recreate the feel of those characters when we first fell in love with them. This makes for a heartfelt and truly engrossing experience. Not without flaws though, as with the beginning there were too many quick location and characters changes to bog things down. Though this isn’t a significant criticism it isn’t Rogue One‘s strength. Some sideline characters could be said to lack much motivation to get involved in a weakness we can see with a lot of ensemble films – though this would indeed be nitpicking.

Rogue One wasn’t quite the story i’d expected as it still works closely to the original films but this is one of it’s greatest strengths and Gareth Edwards really shines in giving love to the characters. The technology is astounding and it becomes a big part of the experience – literally bringing back those characters infused into the new story. Star Wars and its universe has just gotten richer.

Synopsis

The Empire are close to one of their ultimate weapons and flatten any resistance. In doing this they recruit some of the better minds available by force. This leads to an orphaned child, who grows to be a strong fighter for the Rebel Alliance; and a scientist, determined to create flaws in a formidable weapon.

 

Further Reading

rottontomatoes.com

metacritc.com

Official site

Interview with the Cast

Interview with Gareth Edwards

Interview with Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn

Rogue One Locations

Cast Reaction to Vader

Peter Cushing Revived

Easter Eggs

Tarkin’s CGI

An Interpretation of the Ending

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (d. Gareth Edwards USA 2016)



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