Kyle J. Steenblik

Rogue One is Breathtakingly Spectacular and Exhilarating [Review]

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rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Based on Characters by George Lucas
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker
Running time 133 minutes
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action

5 stars out of 5

Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is a retired weapons engineer for the Empire in hiding with his wife and child Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), but Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who kills his wife and threatens the life of his daughter, pulls Galen back into service complete his work on the Death Star. Jyn escapes with the help of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and is raised in the shadow of the militant freedom fighter, leading her down the same path, which lands her in an Empire labor camp. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a reprogrammed imperial enforcer droid, are sent to rescue Jyn after the Rebellion learns of a message from Galen Erso smuggled out of the imperial weapons factory by a defecting pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). But Bodhi Rook is being held by the extremist Saw Gerrera, and the Rebellion needs Jyn to help them recover the pilot, and the message that is vital to the survival of the galaxy.

Rogue One is undeniably one of the best star wars films from the past 40 years, the ties to the 1977 classic are crucial, but not what set this film apart. While it is undeniably Star Wars, it is unlike anything we have ever seen in this universe, it is dark and gritty, it is brutal and shocking, it is exactly what the franchise needs. The story alone highlights the rich wealth of background stories that inform and enable the plots of the backbone films of the franchise. It brought to the forefront the violent personal cost of the Rebellion’s war against the Empire. I do believe this is the most emotionally charged of the eight film series, there were many moments that held me quite breathless, in spite of the fact that the ultimate outcome of this story is known well in advance.

Knowing the outcome does rob some punch from the final minutes of the film, but only very slightly. I am honestly impressed with how screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy managed to keep the suspense tightly wound, not to mention creating incredibly complex characters that are almost instantaneously loveable. Not to mention the near flawless direction of Gareth Edwards who kept the action tight while not overloading the screen and kept the story in the forefront allowing it to guide the action rather than the action scenes informing the story.

I would love to delve deeper into this film, but for the sake of keeping this spoiler free, and I don’t trust myself to not spill anything should I write more openly about some of the remarkable elements , I will conclude with this thought. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is my second favorite Star Wars film, second only to Empire Strikes Back. I can’t say it is a film without flaws and minor problems, but everything it does right, it does so well that the defects are nearly invisible.

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