Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first sideline story in the franchise since it came under the helm of Walt Disney Studios is a dark and ominous outing, despite some well-timed humor, most of it on the part of the sarcastic K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a reprogrammed imperial droid in service to the resistance. In the first film, 1977’s
later renamed Star Wars: A New Hope, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) hid the plans for the Death Star inside R2-D2. answers the question about how exactly the resistance obtained those plans in the first place. Set sometime between the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope, episodes III and IV of the series, this latest entry is a satisfying chess game in space.
The story follows the efforts of a desperate group of rebels led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the planetdestroying weapon designed by her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) against his will. She joins Capt. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who has other plans for the imperial scientist, who he thinks is a traitor. Joining the ragtag crew are freelance assassins Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), along with imperial defector Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a pilot with a message for the rebels: Galen has built a carefully hidden weakness into the Death Star that will bring about its total destruction. The message, in true fashion, is delivered by hologram to resistance fighter (and surrogate father to Jyn) Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Jyn must convince the others that Galen isn’t just laying a trap and that the message is genuine, a slim ray of hope that comes as the resistance is preparing to accept defeat at the hands of Empire baddie and Death Star contractor Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
A tenuous alliance forms between the heroes when — against resistance orders — they set off on a secret mission to obtain the Death Star plans from an imperial base, christening themselves the Rogue One, a development that sets the stage for a raucous final hour of action and suspense. The stakes are high and the fights are brutal (for a mostly bloodless film). While is less of a throwback to the previous movies than was last year’s franchise trademarks like spirited repartee and ensemble casting — plus a few brief appearances by some of the galaxy’s familiar faces — should satisfy most fans. Darth Vader’s (James Earl Jones) appearance, late in the film, marks one of the darkest moments of any
film and reminds us why the helmeted mouthbreather is among the greatest villains in cinema. Even Peter Cushing, resurrected through a convincing use of motion-capture technology, reprises his role as Grand Moff Tarkin with the help of actor Guy Henry.
works less effectively as a stand-alone film, because its story is tied directly to the events of but remains nonessential. How the resistance got ahold of the Death Star plans is a good question, but one that probably didn’t need a whole new film to explain. Part of the point, however, is to expand the universe, particularly after much of what was considered canon by fans has been discarded by Disney, which is establishing a canon of its own. The understated score by Michael Giacchino — a pared-down version of John Williams’ original — and the lack of an opening scroll are departures from the previous films, and we might expect this to become tradition in future spinoffs; plans for a young Han Solo movie are in the works, possibly for release in 2018, after the release of next year’s as-yet untitled episode VIII. But with more death and sacrifice than you might expect, is an engaging and, at times, moving chapter in the saga. — Michael Abatemarco