Rogue One (2016) – Disney did it again!

Rogue One is the eight major instalment in the Star Wars franchise, and we all had our reasons to be excited about it. What was special about this movie was that this was the first Star Wars movie that was not about the Skywalker family. So aside from the all too familiar epic space opera that we all know and love, Rogue One is an entirely new movie set in the same old universe.

Spoilers will have a little impact here as the movie is primarily meant for those who have already experienced the original trilogy at least. Secondly, the movie is set before the fourth episode which is kind of a good point to start the series anyway. Nevertheless, anyone else not familiar with the franchise can watch the movie too. Otherwise, don’t read ahead. Spoiler alert for you there, reader.

Story

Rogue One is set just before the original trilogy, more accurately, the fourth episode. Basically, the movie is about the Death Star, from its inception to right before the events leading to A New Hope. And given the strangely familiar retelling in The Force Awakens, we might as well call this movie Death Star One.

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The rebels attempt to take out an Imperial Walker on the planet Scarif

The movie features all new characters except a few familiar ones, but they don’t play many roles in the movie except for establishing the significance of the story. The chief protagonist is Jyn Erso, the daughter of Imperial weapons researcher, Galen Erso who is forced to work on the Death Star. Felicity Jones takes up most of the screentime by a wide margin but the multiple layers in the story never fade out behind the main character. That was what stood out the most for me in the story aside from the brilliantly written characters. The writers have done a spectacular job with the new characters and their individual stories. A tremendously diverse and colourful group of characters make for some really great moments in the movie. From still to finish, the plot never loses pace and what we get is a fantastic experience that builds up as the movie moves on to the finish.

A solid plot with little to no loopholes of any kind, Rogue One is another solid entry in the franchise. Disney really has got a lot going for them with the massively successful MCU and the acclaimed Star Wars movies. The only bit that left me wanting more was the underutilization of some pretty great characters like the battle-hardened Saw Gerrera. It would have been so better to see more of him instead of just being central to only the first act of the movie (like the trailers had suggested). Mads Mikkelsen’s character was fine, and this is just my opinion, but I still long for the day when he will take the lead in an epic character that spans an entire franchise and blow our minds like he always does.

Cast and acting

Nothing was short here. The casting directors have done a fine job in bringing together a great ensemble. The presence of actors like Diego Luna, Ip Man and Forest Whitaker not only bring life to the well-written characters but also make for a memorable experience that makes Rogue One more than just a passable expansion of the story.

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Rogue One | From left: (Sitting) Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook; (Standing) Diego Luna as rebel pilot, Cassian Andor; Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, (Standing) Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus and (sitting) Ip Man as Ip Man

Full of brilliant dialogues and exposition, and with just the right mix of humour and tragedy, Star Wars Rogue One manage to click a lot more boxes than it originally intended to. This here is an apt definition of excelling expectations.

Sound

The sound design is top notch. The scientifically inaccurate scream of the tie-fighters and X-wings fighting in space sound as epic as ever and the tantalising beam of the lightsabers still manage to put me aback. Since Force Awakens, Star Wars has gone back to its roots and embrace the lightsabers more religiously as compared to the prequels where they were flying everywhere. In a movie devoid of any force-wielders except (maybe) Darth Vader in particular, there is almost no scene with the iconic weapon. But when it does appear in the end, the feeling is just like the first time.

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These never get old. Rebel X-Wings take on the orbital defence of the Imperial stronghold at Scarif

The soundtrack is highly similar to the Force Awakens and has the feel of the titular track. I expected the music to have a much more different character, but it’s more similar to the original than I would have preferred. Despite that, it gets the job done just fine.

CGI

The CGI is just like what you would expect from any AAA title but what Star Wars goes further is with the full CGI representation of old characters like General Tarkin and a young Princess Leia. May they rest in peace.

Ending (Spoilers)

The movie, however, ends on a sad note. The ending is kind of romantic in many ways. On one hand, the imagery was just spot on. It beautifully captured the epic atmosphere of the original movies with its wide open horizons and a beautiful backdrop of light. On the other hand, the story of Jyn comes to its end in a way that was both justified, and still heartbreaking. The movie really makes you feel about the characters and in the end, it taken its toll. Rogue One finished as soon as it started. And it was a joy to watch.


I still couldn’t understand why the movie halls were so empty here on this side of the planet. It might have been due to the lack of marketing,  or something else. Nevertheless, people out here are missing out on one of the most solid releases of the year. Star Wars Rogue One is a rollercoaster of a movie. Filled with its highs and lows, the movie will make you laugh or roll out a tear or two. A well-written set of characters backed by an even stronger cast helps steer the epic story of Rogue One into one of the most beloved sagas of all time.

Rogue One is a winner!

5

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