Prequels always seem like a good idea in theory, but many times the familiar franchises miss the mark trying to give the audience something fresh while still shoving as much nostalgia into the story as possible for die-hard fans. The Star Wars prequel trilogy was met with tremendous enthusiasm and excitement, yet fans felt cheated concerning this new world that didn’t seem recognizable at all filled with unlikable characters that were hard to root for like Jar Jar Binks and Anakin Skywalker. The balance between honoring the past while giving the people something new to love is a difficult undertaking that is usually met with disappointment. Fortunately this is not the case for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a standalone film set in the Star Wars Galaxy that connects to the franchise in major ways.
This new installment in the series could have easily been called Episode 3.5, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story mostly taking place just prior to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. The film revolves around the Empire’s pride and joy The Death Star. A newly created space station with weapon capabilities able to blow up an entire planet. The Rebel Alliance (led by some recognizable faces from the franchise) get word of this new threat and recruit a young outlaw named Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones to help prevent planetary destruction. Jones makes her mark in the legacy of Stars Wars‘ heroines as the feisty rebel looking for revenge against the Empire for ruining her life.
Jones isn’t the only new character that stands out in Rogue One. To be truthful, the supporting cast demand just as much attention and is full of scene stealers. Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen is amazing as the blind warrior Chirrup Îmwe who keeps the spirit of the force alive in this film. Chirrup’s partner in crime Baze (Wen Jiang) serves as the military muscle and the duo have some wonderful scenes together that are both funny and emotional. Our flesh and blood characters don’t get to have all the fun in Rogue One. Through motion capture technology, Alan Tudyk brings to life the blunt talking security droid K-2SO. The wise cracking robot should become an instant fan favorite providing humor, heart and some sweet stormtrooper choke slams throughout Rogue One.
Industrial Light and Magic not only shows off their skills with K-2SO, but with some other major special effects that will have fanboys’ jaws on the floor at certain moments in Rogue One. Even though “Wars” is in the title of the movie, the stories told throughout the franchise at times have been more character driven with intimate story telling about fulfilling your destiny. Rogue One is a War Film that focuses on the soldiers and their story rather than a Republic full of Emperors, Lords and Jedis with their beliefs and politics. The audience gets the POV of rebels fighting AT-ATs from the ground and the espionage that can turn the tides of the war. As for those looking for a Darth Vader centric film, you need to realize heading into this movie that this is a story about the boots on the ground and not the Sith. That doesn’t mean you don’t get the moments you crave for concerning the man in black. Think quality over quantity when it comes to the scariest man in the Galactic Empire in Rogue One.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story accomplishes what so many other prequels, spin-offs and revivals failed to do by making the perfect companion piece to Star Wars: A New Hope. The film is full of all kinds of Easter Egg goodies that will have you smiling like a kid again playing with Kenner toys in your backyard. Even though the audience is privy as to how the story plays out, the one shot film aspect allows fans to sit on the edge of their seats wondering who is going to make it out of Rogue One alive. The sequel to this film already happened in 1977 so the action is very engaging considering no one is safe. This is not space bears defeating Imperial Forces, but rather a gritty tale of making your mark in the world even if it costs you everything. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may be a one time affair in the franchise, nevertheless it stands out as one of the best showcasing the soldiers who helped strike down an Empire.
Overall, I give Rogue One: Star Wars Story 3.25 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell