Despite concerns about reported reshoots earlier this year for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the final cut was highly satisfying. No, make that incredibly satisfying.
The first major spin-off of the Star Wars saga, Rogue One definitely lived up to its hype; and made its predecessors proud. You see, one obvious danger of spin-offs is the letdown. Fans are going to expect a lot; they’re going to be scrutinizing every detail. For the film maker, it’s surely going to be a tough balancing act–you have to make sure it doesn’t veer away from the essence of its parent film but has to be solid enough as a standalone film.
Director Gareth Edwards deserves a minute of non-stop applause for his work. Rogue One was incredible. It has the right balance of action, drama, suspense, and even comedy to make the film engaging from start to finish.
Set at time just before the events of the first Star Wars films, Rogue One tells the story of a band of rebels, pseudo-headed by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), out to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s scary super-weapon that’s believed to have the ability to extinguish an entire planet: the Death Star.
Although the film exists in the same universe as the franchise we’ve all grown to love, it’s not totally related. The events are similar but the story is totally independent. But will there be cameos from some of the original characters? We’ll see.
Regardless of whether or not we’ll catch a glimpse of the classic names or hear them referenced in the film, the new batch of characters has been written perfectly. Jyn, for example, has a very interesting back story and a story arc that would carry the movie. Cassian Andor, a rebel intelligence officer, (Diego Luna) is another evolving character that experiences a cathartic shift.
The two’s onscreen chemistry is compelling. They grew from a place of mistrust to the kind where one’s ready to plunge into death. Add K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) , a military droid, to the equation and you’ll have a formidable trio that’s fun to watch.
It’s worth nothing that Lucasfilm and Disney have featured a female lead in its last two pictures, which is great because it reiterates the idea that women are just as compelling and powerful as men in leading roles. Jyn wasn’t the brawny heroine (compared to Episode Seven’s Rey) but her toughness is her indomitable spirit. She leads a rebel army in hopes of saving the galaxy from a nefarious weapon.
Another thing that I liked was that even with a male-female duo, the movie didn’t even attempt to establish some romantic relationship between the two, which would have been unnecessary because the story has enough interesting plots to carry itself.
Let me just say that the banter and snappy comebacks between the characters, especially Jyn and the lovable K-2SO.
The look of the film perfectly captures the tone of the Star Wars universe. The wide shots are amazing. The environments are believable and if you’ve seen the other films, you’ll get the same vibe, which is great because it reminds you that they belong to the same universe.
Also, I think they’re really clever with the production design because while we’re conditioned to think that we’re in another planet in a galaxy far away, the different planets they used as settings didn’t feel too alien to us. There are beaches, palm trees, rocky mountains, etc. so you kind of feel like you’re still on Earth.
This makes the entire experience even more immersive (would be great if you can watch it on IMAX). And you’ll absolutely love the action scenes, especially in the third act. The sequences will literally take you on the edge of your seats.
In summary, Rogue: One is like an impressive high-wire act. It managed to perfectly balance the two original Star Wars saga and the standalone world it aims to create, but without compromising either one. It didn’t veer away from the original films but has a solid enough plot (and compelling characters) to stand on its own. It’s the perfect precedent to the new Star Wars anthology.