Although my gap in blogging lead to me missing a review for Episode VII (I’ll add it closer to VIII…) I have started blogging properly in time to review Rogue One, as it releases on DVD/Blu-ray. Set in the lead up to Episode IV, Rogue One is the first “spin-off”, or Anthology film, and it’s pretty damn good! Let’s take a closer look…
Approximately six years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, research scientist Galen Erso is forcibly recruited by Imperial Director Orson Krennic to complete the design of the Death Star, a space station capable of destroying entire planets. Galen’s wife, Lyra Erso, is killed when she shoots and injures Krennic to stop him from taking her husband. Their daughter, Jyn Erso, goes into hiding.
Thirteen years later, Bodhi Rook, a defecting Imperial pilot, smuggles a holographic message from Galen for the Rebel Alliance. An adult Jyn is freed from Imperial captivity and brought to rebel leaders by Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor. They convince her to rescue Galen so that they can learn about the Death Star….
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Jyn Erso in the… centre of the shot. (Couldn’t think of something funny, sorry.)
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) – Rebellious woman who isn’t working for the Rebellion, who then is forced to join the Rebellion. Rebel without a cause gets a cause to rebel for? I guess…?
Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) – Rebel Alliance Captain and intelligence officer who is tasked with the job of flying Jyn around to find the location of her father… and kill him. Or, at least, that’s the plan at the start…
Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) – The Director of the Imperial Advance Weapons Research department. He’s very proud of the Death Star and its capability, and is looking forward to his big reward from the Emperor himself… Doesn’t quite go his way, however…
K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) – Former Imperial enforcer droid who has been reprogrammed to serve the Rebel Alliance. Has an attitude problem due to the nature of his reprogramming. Luckily the defect is amusing, so no one’s bothered!
Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) – Former Imperial cargo pilot of defects to the Rebel Alliance after being inspired by Galen Erso. He delivers the news of the Death Star to the Rebels and even helps out greatly in stealing the Death Star plans themselves.
Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) – Blind Force-user who is also a talented fighter. He used to be a member of “The Guardians of the Whills”, protectors of the Temple of the Kyber on Jedha. He’s not too thrilled with the Empire stealing all the Kyber Crystals and later destroying most of Jedha… which is understandable.
Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) – Also a former member of the Guardians of the Whills. Unlike his friend Chirrut, he has already accepted his new role as gun-totting bad ass warrior, though his loyalty to his friend has kept him on Jedha.
Plus many more!
Now there is a smile you can trust!
The main team of Rebels are great fun together. Jyn and Cassian have good chemistry as potential love interests and throw in the sarcastic droid, the cowardly pilot who gains his courage and two “cool” warriors, and you’ve got a fun gang to follow. Orson Krennic also make a fine antagonist, making the lead cast a blast to follow.
The action scenes are great, with early tests of the Death Star’s destruction leading to some pretty amazing scenes of planetary destruction from both above and on-ground. The all out war, again both on-ground and in the skies/space, on Scarif is also a feast for the eyes and very exciting to watch.
This film does a lot to show a more realistic Rebel Alliance. If they were truly Rebels fighting a large Empire, they would have to do some… unpleasant things to get one over on them. Cassian’s actions in his opening scene and monologue about what he’s had to do for the Alliance made you realise that it’s not all ace pilots and new Jedi in the Rebels, there are a lot of grunts doing what they have to do to help the Alliance push forward. I like it.
The scenes with Darth Vader, both humiliating Krennic and being the ultimate bad ass with a bunch of Rebel troops at the end of the film, are great, and do more to make him intimidating than a lot of the original trilogy. Although I didn’t like the effects (see below) I did enjoy how Grand Moff Tarkin was handled, scheming his way into taking control of the Death Star from Krennic once it showed its power.
Although some of it was too on-the-nose, I did like a lot of the continuity, especially how it ties into the start of Episode IV so well.
Finally, the ending, which sees the entire team get wiped out, is fitting. After all, they don’t appear again in the original trilogy, and the way the mission to retrieve the plans is set up leads to a pretty obvious conclusion. For the greater good, and all that.
Hmmm… no, not quite a real person I’m afraid. Nice try though!
Although I appreciate his role in the story, the CGI Tarkin was too distracting. The technology isn’t there yet for me to not notice a computer generated Peter Cushing in amongst actual people. Leia at the end wasn’t too bad, but probably because the shot is so brief.
Some of the continuity references went a tad too far. The antagonistic bar flies from the Cantina in Episode IV showing up on Jedha to re-say their lines was just TOO stupid. Plus they must have gotten on a ship straight away and headed to Tatooine given the relatively small amount of time between the two movies. Although it was obvious that C3PO and R2D2 would be on Yavin during this time, given they are with the Rebels at the start of Episode IV, their brief cameo also felt like it was there for the hell of it.
There are some really great wide shots in this film. Hooray for Star Destroyers!
While the first half felt like all action and no real character development, by the end of the film I found myself caring for the Rebel team as they undertook their last mission. The action scenes are great, the characters are interesting and fun, and there are some really smirk-inducing continuity beats (and some cringey ones, but hey ho). It’s a damn fun movie.