The Force strong for Rogue One

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Classifieds - MATTHEW DAL­LAS

‘‘Once Vader showed up, my in­ter­est in the rebels' mis­sion took a se­ri­ous dent.’’ Matthew Dal­las

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (M) 134 mins ★★★★

For those who thought ‘rev­er­ence’ was too kind a word to de­scribe The Force Awak­ens’ sim­i­lar­i­ties to Ge­orge Lu­cas’ orig­i­nal space opera, this may be the Star Wars movie that re­stores their faith.

Rogue One is a side­track of a sorts, a self-con­tained ad­ven­ture with few re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the greater Star Wars mythol­ogy be­yond en­sur­ing it winds its way back to the main ga­lac­tic path at its close.

In telling the tale of how the plans to the orig­i­nal Death Star were stolen, the film-mak­ers were able to de­vise a new play­book, giv­ing birth to fresh char­ac­ters and mo­ti­va­tions, so long as none of it up­sets or con­tra­dicts any of the con­vo­luted con­ti­nu­ity on ei­ther side of it.

This is both the pic­ture’s great­est strength and its ever-present lim­i­ta­tion.

Even the most ca­sual of Star Wars fans will know how Rogue One must end be­fore they buy their ticket, it’s the get­ting there that mat­ters.

The sto­ry­line con­cern­ing an un­likely band of rebels at­tempt­ing an im­pos­si­ble mis­sion to steal data that could crip­ple the Em­pire’s su­per weapon al­ways sug­gested a ‘Dirty half-Dozen in space’ nar­ra­tive, and that’s just what we get.

Feisty trou­ble­maker Jyn Orso (Felic­ity Jones) is re­cruited by the Rebel Al­liance to try and se­cure in­for­ma­tion smug­gled out by her fa­ther, an Im­pe­rial sci­en­tist key to the cre­ation of the Death Star.

The su­per weapon is feared to have the fire­power to de­stroy plan­ets and en­sure the evil Em­peror’s reign goes un­chal­lenged.

As she hops plan­ets with stoic rebel cap­tain Cas­sian An­dor (Diego Luna) and ob­nox­ious droid K-2SO the most en­joy­able of the new char­ac­ters - oth­ers join their cause, most no­tably a blind devo­tee to The Force (Don­nie Yen).

Which brings me to the nag­ging in­ter­nal mono­logue that never left my head: ‘‘When do we see Vader? When do we see Vader?’’

And once the dark lord ar­rives: ‘‘Vader! Vader! Vader!’’

And when there’s a scene change: ‘‘Do we see him again? Do we see him again?’’

The ex­tent to which the pres­ence of Darth Vader, in all his glo­ri­ous black and badass­ness, over­whelms Rogue One will likely de­pend on view­ers’ age and level of fond­ness for the orig­i­nal tril­ogy.

For some­one who as a kid dreamed ev­ery night be­tween Star Wars sheets, his in­tro­duc­tion is a dif­fi­cult mo­ment to over­come.

Once Vader showed up, my in­ter­est in the rebels’ mis­sion took a se­ri­ous dent, re­gard­less of the ur­gent pac­ing di­rec­tor Gareth Ed­wards em­ploys in the third act.

We have the melo­dra­matic heart of the en­tire Star Wars saga brood­ing in the back­ground, while we’re stuck with som­bre rebels mak­ing the same short work of stormtroop­ers as ev­ery Star Wars hero who came be­fore them.

It was not a mis­take to have Vader in the movie, it’s just hard to not want more of him and to not start feel­ing this ‘‘Star Wars story’’ may be a lit­tle small.

Nev­er­the­less, Rogue One still bears enough won­der, space smarts and de­vo­tion to de­tail for fans to cel­e­brate, and then run home and watch A New Hope with eyes as wide as ever - even if it’s for the 110th time.


Darth Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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