Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Directed by Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) and screenwritten by Chris Weitz (Cinderella, About a Boy) and Tony Gilroy (Bourne films, Armageddon), Rogue One is a Star Wars spinoff-prequel set right before Episode IV — A New Hope (1777), about a group of rebellions who go on a mission to find the plans that could stop the evil Galactic Empire's planet-destroying weapon Death Star. No spoilers but if you're a fan of the franchise, you'd know exactly what I'm referring to.
Felicity Jones (True Story, A Theory of Everything) lead the cast as Jyn Erso, the distant daughter of the architect of the Death Star, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), and a criminal to the Empire. Jyn gets rescued from the Empire's prison by the Rebel Alliance's intelligence office Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his reprogrammed Empire analytic droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). After (somehow) getting mixed up with other characters — Empire pilot-defector Bodhi Rook, blind monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and non-believer of the Force Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), together they have to make a stand against the Empire's up and coming destructive weapon despite being outrageously outnumbered and not having supernatural powers or the luxury of a single Jedi's assistance.
The performances by the cast are faultless. K-2SO absolutely stole the show with its hilariously cynical attitude. It's probably the funniest droid in the franchise. Yen (Ip Man films, Flash Point) is perfect for the role as the Buddhist monk-like warrior Chirrut Imwe who's blind and corny but cool and effectively funny. Edwards do utilise him well, filming his action sequences in wide angle shots to display Yen's martial arts talent in full glory. The film's antagonist Orson Krennic played by Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline Netflix series, Starred Up) deserves a mention as well as he is highly menacing despite being holding a lower position than General Tarkin in the Imperial Military and has no powers like a Sith.
However, a standalone spinoff with a whole new group of main characters (who don't use lightsabers) was always bound for an uphill battle in character development, which Edwards isn't very successful in (again, after Godzilla). I didn't feel attached to any of the characters and I feel like I don't know enough about some of them. Fortunately, despite that and some lazy deaths, the emotional moments are still strong enough to make feel like tearing up. Composer Michael Giacchino (Doctor Strange, Star Trek films, Up) could perhaps take some credit for this. The score and the different variations of the original's are fantastic.
Unlike the main series' instalments, the non-fans and casual viewers may find it harder to keep up with what's going on. For the fans like myself, however, Rogue One is sufficiently entertaining. It has good humour that cracked me up more than just a few times. It is packed with great action and war sequences on and off the ground. The story also visits some cool new planets. The visuals and special effects are amazing as you would expect from the franchise today though I did feel that it's unnecessary to actually show the not-very-convincing CG faces of General Tarkin (its original actor was the late great Peter Cushing) and the younger Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher has aged and is not able to look like how she was back then). Brief moments with their backs, voices and personality would've been adequate.
Besides Tarkin and Leia, there are plenty of other fan services in the film. The costumes are meticulously designed to match the style in the original films. Stormtroopers retain their incompetency. A few more other old characters make cameo appearances as well. And Darth Vader's (voiced by James Earl Jones) scenes are amazing, especially the one in the final act which totally did the iconic villain justice. All in all, Rogue One is a very enjoyable spinoff for the fans while we wait for what we're more eagerly waiting to see: Episode VIII, the sequel to Force Awakens (2015). It is also a prequel that strengthens the original first film, Episode IV — A New Hope, by
Malaysian censorship: None. There's not even a kiss, or much blood for that matter.
Second opinion: My girlfriend fell asleep while watching it. She said she only realised how disinterested she actually is with it during the movie.
Verdict: Highly entertaining despite its lack of emotional depth. Fans of the franchise would appreciate it more than casual viewers/non-fans.
Rating: 4 / 5
Genre: Sci-fi action adventure, space opera
Running Time: 134 minutes
Director: Gareth Edwards
Screenwriter: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen
Malaysia Release Date: 15 December 2016
Local Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Malaysia / Bueno Vista
Production: Lucasfilm Ltd.
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