Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Directed by Gareth Edwards who directed the 2014 Godzilla remake, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a well-crafted Hollywood blockbuster that blends the right amount of science fiction, explosive action, and hallmarks of the Star Wars universe to create a highly entertaining cinematic experience. Its style and narrative hark back to the original three films under George Lucas and is thankfully much better than the more recent prequels. Like its other Disney predecessor Star Wars: The Force Awakens from 2015, the movie is effectively able to recapture the original spirit and creativity that has made Star Wars such a wildly successful sci-fi franchise. Although within the same narrative universe of the other films, it is very much a standalone side project with a whole slew of new characters and planets and can be loosely called a prequel to the originals and a sequel to the prequels. In the movie, Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones plays a young woman named Jyn Erso whose absent father, portrayed by the fabulous Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, is a brilliant engineer forced to design a deadly weapon for the powerful dictatorship of the Galactic Empire. After being held captive by a Rebel fighter depicted by Forest Whitaker, she is allowed to join forces with the Rebel Alliance in the hopes of preventing her father’s weapon from being deployed by the Empire and Director Orson Krennic portrayed by the terrifically evil Ben Mendelssohn. She teams up with Captain Cassian Andor, portrayed by Mexican actor Diego Luna, and the wisecracking reprogrammed Imperial robot K-2SO to steal the plans for what we come to learn is the Death Star and find a way to disable it. As with any other Star Wars movie, there are plenty of dogfights between Imperial and Rebel starfighters in outer space, in addition to land battles involving phaser blasters and Stormtroopers. These skirmishes are beautifully CGI-enhanced but not too over-the-top in order to keep with the appropriate continuation of the earlier films from several decades ago. The filmmakers made the right stylistic choice to mimic the now antiquated CGI set designs and relatively low budget custom designs from the original 1970s versions. The now well-known Star Wars iconography and storylines are kept intact despite the addition of so many new characters. To the delight of both avid fans and casual viewers, there are cameos of many beloved characters, including a certain villainous heavy breather and some friendly robots. Overall, I found this latest installment in the Star Wars saga to be a highly enjoyable joyride that does not skimp on good storytelling and nuanced acting performances from up-and-coming actors. If this movie is any indication, I very much look forward to the future Star Wars films that have already been planned for years to come.

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