The following is Heroic Hollywood’s NON-SPOILER review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story officially marks a new chapter in the Star Wars universe and is a major risk for Lucasfilm. Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured characters that audiences had come to know over the course of multiple generations while introducing us to new fan favorites. Rogue One didn’t have those advantages going in, instead, this film is different and embraces that. Rogue One boldly introduces new characters, story elements and a visual style that is simply stunning.
Director Gareth Edwards had a monumental task with this film. He had to create an original piece that not only expanded the Star Wars universe but connected directly into Star Wars: A New Hope. He has achieved both with Rogue One. It feels as though the Star Wars world has become infinitely larger, with more stories just waiting to be told.
Edwards has openly discussed that he wanted to make a war film and Rogue One doesn’t shy away from that environment and shows just how real and devastating war is. The action sequences and visual effects transport the audience directly onto the front lines of every battle. The stakes feel real for our characters as they are life or death.
Rogue One will be talked about for its action, visual and practical effects but the heart of this film can be found within our main characters, who set out on the mission of stealing the plans for the Death Star. If the audience doesn’t care about these characters, the film loses its momentum going into the third act. Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen all deliver outstanding performances. Luna and Yen being the two of the clear standouts.
While much of the action focuses on our group of Rebels, The Empire has a looming presence throughout the film and that is delivered through Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic and Darth Vader. Seeing Darth Vader once again on the big screen proves that he is one of the most powerful and impactful villains of all time.
What audiences might not be expecting from this Star Wars film is that Edwards balances an intense, dark tone with lightness and humor. The humor doesn’t take away from the overall war movie feel but instead amplifies and contrasts those intense moments. One of the funniest and most sincere characters is K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk. Tudyk has a standout performance throughout the film and his droid becomes instantly memorable alongside BB-8 and R2-D2.
Rogue One isn’t a perfect film. At times the pacing felt rushed and certain characters are underutilized. In addition, if you are new to the Star Wars franchise, you might feel a bit left behind on the storyline and Easter Eggs.
Regardless, it’s clear that Edwards was a fan of this franchise and wanted to deliver a movie that fans would appreciate. Rogue One has the feel of a war movie but contains heart, passion and most of all hope. This is the prequel Star Wars fans have been waiting for.
In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters December 16. Directed by Gareth Edwards, Rogue One stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, and Ben Mendelsohn.
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