Finally, the prequel I’ve always wanted but didn’t know I needed!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does in two hours what three prequel movies couldn’t do: Provides a riveting, lean, and downright fun adventure that helps expand on the original trilogy story without getting bogged down by dysfunctional families and a deep need to build mythos.
It also single-handedly revitalizes the character of Darth Vader in just a couple of scenes, making it easy to forget the staggering whiner at the end of Revenge of the Sith and find a new appreciation (and context) for that moment when we first see him storm aboard the Tantive IV in the original Star Wars movie (A New Hope, for those who believe in a subtitle for that film).
As a general rule, the acting from the main cast is just OK, with the liveliest performance coming from Alan Tudyk as the CGI robot, K2S0. Donnie Yen really delivers some fantastic martial arts action as a blind devotee of the Jedi philosophy who can trounce a crowd of stormtroopers without breaking a sweat. Felicity Jones does a good job as Jyn Erso, a new addition to the growing roster of strong female characters in the Star Wars universe.
I wasn’t quite as enamored with some of the CGI character choices in the movie. If you’re re-casting Mon Mothma and General Dodonna, I think it’s probably a good idea to go with consistency and re-cast a couple of other classic roles. However, that’s really my only quibble with Rogue One after one viewing.
War really isn’t anything new to this saga – it’s right there in the name, after all – but much of the time we’ve seen it presented as confrontations between good and evil. Now, it’s without doubt that the Galactic Empire is evil in Rogue One. But we discover very early on that freedom fighters aren’t without blood on their hands, either.
Rogue One‘s a great standalone story set in the Star Wars universe that’s about loss, the struggle against oppression, and the sacrifices that are sometimes required to preserve freedom. From one exotic locale to another, we’re swept along to meet new faces (and some not-so-new) in a dangerous quest that carries us right up to the inciting event in that original yellow opening crawl about spies smuggling the Death Star plans to Princess Leia.
Really enjoyed it.