Rogue One - A Star Wars Story: "I'm One With The Force. The Force Is With Me"

Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer:     Chris Weitz
                Tony Gilroy
Starring: Felicity Jones
                Diego Luna
                Ben Mendelsohn
                Donnie Yen
                Mads Mikkelsen
                Alan Tudyk
                Jiang Wen
                Forest Whitaker
                James Earl Jones 
Rating:    ***

Home Release: April 10, 2017. 

It was just over a year ago that The Force Awakens came soaring on to the big screen, and the Star Wars series was brought back to life. It was a box-office hit, won critical acclaim and became the third highest grossing film ever made. A year after that and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits cinemas, and after rumoured re-shoots, minimal surprises about the story and a cast full of unfamiliar faces, Rogue One had all the potential to be a mediocre movie; and for me it was.  

 Set in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and in a galaxy far, far away, the rebellion is beginning to build in strength. It is rumoured there is a super-weapon that has the ability to destroy whole planets, designed under the command of scientist Galen Erso (Mikkelsen). At the beginning of the movie we see his wife was killed and daughter forced into hiding by the horrid and manipulative Galactic Empire Director Krennic (Mendelsohn).

Now grown up, Galen's daughter Jyn (Jones) is full of anger and untrusting of the world around her. She is under the care of freedom fighter Saw Gerrera (Whitaker), whose extreme views and methods have separated him from the others in the rebellion. When held captive by the Empire, Jyn is rescued by Cassian Andor (Luna) and his group of rebels, and they use her connection with Saw to access a secret message from her father. The story thickens and Jyn finds herself thrown into a mission that puts her and her new team on the path of this top secret weapon, the Death Star.

I am not a sci-fi fan, and I don't know if I ever will be. That being said, if you have seen my The Force Awakens review, you'll know that my opinion can be swayed. Maybe because that film was more family friendly and a lot of fun, I was able to appreciate it more, but Rogue One is certainly not like that. It is complicated, political, dizzying in it's location changes and full of convoluted plot lines. Director Gareth Edward has made a film so dark and often desolate, that it is hard to believe it is part of the same franchise.  

While much of the setting in Rogue One is beautiful, and many times breathtaking, it doesn't detract from how gloomy and murky the film feels. It relies less on CGI aliens filling the scenes, and gives more time to it's full and diverse cast. However, for Felicity Jones this isn't necessarily a good thing. She is uninspiring, wooden and actually quite forgettable for the lead character. This doesn't reflect on her as an actress though, because elsewhere she has been phenomenal. I often wonder if big budget films relying on green-screen and physical stunts sometimes just aren't for certain actors.

There is light comic relief, if you can call it that, with the newest robot to join the family, K-2SO. BB8 stole The force Awakens, and K-2So is equally as entertaining here. Many moments delivered by him are touching and poignant, but his robot side snaps back into action adding some humour to the proceedings.

Of course Star Wars wouldn't be Star Wars without some villains, and here we have the return of the most famous movie villain in history, Darth Vader. He is still imposing, still eerily still and of course, still brilliantly voiced by James Earl Jones. His booming voice remaining intimidating and powerful, and injecting nostalgia and fear into the audiences hearts.

Not linked to the Star Wars series as such, but more moving alongside it, Rogue One isn't a bad film, I just couldn't get into it like I did with previous ones. I also didn't enjoy, or feel comfortable with the computer generated versions of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher, with Fisher's especially looking more like a china doll that Princess Leia. It is full of adventure, turmoil and space, and I am sure, and know, that die hard Star Wars fans will love it. If I was a sci-fi lover, I would too. 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Trailer