[Film Review] Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rogue One  A Star Wars Story poster

Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Year: 2016
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: Gareth Edwards
Chris Weitz
Tony Gilroy
John Knoll
Gary Whitta
George Lucas
Music: Michael Giacchino
Cinematography: Greig Fraser
Felicity Jones
Diego Luna
Alan Tudyk
Donnie Yen 甄子丹
Jiang Wen 姜文
Ben Mendelsohn
Riz Ahmed
Forest Whitaker
Mads Mikkelsen
Alistair Petrie
Genevieve O’ Reilly
Jimmy Smits
James Earl Jones
Valene Kane
Ben Daniels
Guy Henry
Ian McElhinney
Fares Fares
Daniel Mays
Warwick Davis
Sharon Duncan-Brewster
Geraldine James
Anthony Daniels
Rating: 7.1/10

This stand-alone space opera, within the franchise’s time-line it closely predates STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE (1977), and in some measure complements the whopping lacunae between Episode III and IV, individually, ROGUE ONE pluckily sidesteps the force-bestowed Skywalker clan and Jedi warriors, recounts a heroic stealth mission carried out by a band of rogue rebels, and rounds off the story with a pang of pathos which will alter our perspective of Episode IV forever.

The plot zeroes in on Jyn Erso, played by a dauntless Felicity Jones, whose father Galen (Mikkelesen) is press-ganged into joining in the Empire as one of the core designers of the notorious Death Star. Jyn was separated from him when she was a little girl (where the franchise habitually kills off a mother figure, because Jane’s mother Lyra, played by Valene Kane, inanely chooses to stick with her husband in lieu of her young child during the crunch, one cannot bow to her logic), now an adult, she is recruited by the Rebel Alliance on an expedition to look for Galen, accompanied by Cassian Andor (Luna) and his droid K-2SO (Tudyk), a great asset in the game.

Little does Jyn know, the Rebel Alliance has an ax to grind, Cassian is commanded to dispatch her father once for all, even after Jyn gets the message delivered by a defected Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Ahmed), that Galen deliberately leaves a loophole in his design so that the humongous Death Star could be demolished from within. A father-daughter belated reunion doesn’t end in a happy ending thanks to the expedient action of the rebels, yet, Jyn holds no grudge, pleads a motion to obtain the information of the loophole from the data bank in planet Scarif, which fails to pass the democratic consensus. So Jyn and Cassian, brave themselves to a kamikaze plan to snatch the data, disguised as Imperial officers, and transported by a stolen Imperial shuttle, they are joined by Bodhi, a blind Jedi-wannabe Chirrut Imwe (Yen, vaunting martial arts cannot save the day, alas) and his companion, the heavily-loaded mercenary Baze Malbus (Wen), among others.

The rest is an ode to foot soldiers, we are certain they will get what they want in the end against a heavy casualty, but, we might not expect a total annihilation to wipe off the entire planet with our protagonists stranded helplessly to face the doom in a mode evocative of Lars van Trier’s MELANCHOLIA (2011). That is where ROGUE ONE goes out on a limb to flout the so-called “leading character aureole” and hits the mark, which dwarfs other franchises where body counts in the hero’s roll calls must be fastidiously calculated, this is the advantage of an one-off project, as dumbstruck as that, it does effectively elicit a pungent whiff of pathos which is wanting from Han Solo’s exit in STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015).

Directer Gareth Edwards and DP Greig Fraser have done a creditable job in concretizing the film’s intergalactic visual scope, collating a vintage milieu replete with rough-and-tumble where our ragbag of rebels constantly comes across with an ultra-streamlined modernity under the govern of the Empire. In its money-shots, two paralleled combats (one on the ground field, the other is the trademark space confrontation) merge into one helluva spectacle fairly retains the name of its brand, and for the most part, its 3D effect is unexpectedly lucid and arresting. Although John William’s score is too reverent to override, Michael Giacchino’s score manages to live up with the tale’s heroic overtone.

In the face of grave matters, scarcely a moment of romance can find a footing in the narrative, but a scintillating correlation between Jyn and Cassian has been tangibly established without hitting the sappy note thanks to a very contained effort from Jones and Luna. As for the highlight of the supporting group, apart from embracing diversity on a wider scale, everyone’s talking point must be the graphic digital retouch to recreate several old characters in order to make a sound transition to the next chapter, notably Grand Moff Tarkin (which was played by the late Peter Cushing in Episode IV) and a young princess Leila, is it a sign to showcase that now the technology is able to bring previous characters back from oblivion to a new era? Or it could be a transgression of their indelible cinematic legacy? One might be dithering.

Tellingly, ROGUE ONE is a solid attempt to ginger up the jaded but still massively lucrative mega-universe of STAR WARS, and could be more apt to be coined as a genuine suicide squad for its no-holds-barred gumption and forcefulness.

Oscar 2016  Rogue One  A Star Wars Story


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