There is a Star Wars movie that answers the many questions fans have asked over the last few years, exploring both the resiliency of a franchise that has already suffered its share of wear and tear over its 40 years, and the talent of artists gifted with new and perhaps iconoclastic visions, as well as their ability to bring stories that happened long ago into a distant galaxy for a bold new future.
In the meantime, we have “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” directed by Gareth Edwards, to kill time, a service he performs perfectly, albeit in a somewhat indistinct way. The film technically did not need to exist, other than the need to please fans, raise easy money, and keep the audience interested in an age when their attention jumps from one science fiction show to another with blatant promiscuity.
So many of the “Rogue One” images conjure up recent films – from “Mad Max: Road of Fury” to “The Arrival” – that it’s easy to forget that it was the first movie in the series back in 1977 that started it all.
The Credits for Rogue One
To give Rogue One credit, the film, as well as “The Awakening of the Force,” pays homage to the imaginative world created by George Lucas and his collaborators four decades ago.
Carved from the same aesthetic of “old future” that Lucas had perfected with so much aptitude, it has the same dirty and worn veneer that refers to the war classics of World War II and Vietnam War combined with visual flourishes that resemble video games It fits nicely into all of “Star Wars” mythology, especially when its thrilling third act arrives, culminating in an immensely satisfying finale.
What “Rogue One” does not have much is joy, although there cannot be said that the spectators were no longer aware. Rogue One Run Time is about 134 minutes and shows us that Edwards and the Disney executives were very proud of the fact that they wanted this separate story to be more “dark”, and they were not kidding: for a “Star Wars” , it has the highest death toll ever, going well beyond the usual Imperial Stormtroopers (and, as usual, we can expect at least one of them per film to fall with a Wilhelm scream sound effect).
This and other comforting elements of familiarity are present and very alive in “Rogue One,” which focuses on the story of Jyn (Felicity Jones), a circumstantial young woman serving a militant wing of the Rebel Alliance, doing crucial espionage against the tyrannical Galactic Empire, which is in the process of inventing a super-weapon called the Death Star.
Was “Rogue One” Any Good?
And, since we are dealing with “Star Wars”, we may know that Jyn’s work will eventually involve some kind of mixed team of misfits, but full of courage.
The Rogue One Cast consists of a rebel intelligence officer named Cassian (Diego Luna), a former disgruntled imperial pilot named Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic android K-2SO. Voiced by Alan Tudyk, this singular creature, who moves with spider’s prickles, provides important moments of comic relief in a film that, aside from those moments, is serious and heavy, as Jyn and his colleagues battle against the devilish director of the armaments of the Empire, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
Featuring a solid performance from Edwards, who already has “Monsters” and “Godzilla” in his resume, “Rogue One” is, in any case, a very typical story, animated by impressive visual effects and the soundtrack touching of Michael Giacchino, but without the warm tone and the sense of humor of the previous films.
He is no disaster at all, in no way comparable to the ill-conceived trilogy of Luke’s I-III episodes. Yet, outside of his final moments, “Rogue One” has not the hectic pace, nor the exhilarating feedback that “The Awakening of the Force” conveyed so lightly.
Felicity Jones in “Rogue One” makes a compelling heroine, though half monotonous with her whole seriousness. His astonishing physical resemblance to Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the new films in the series, is an intriguing invitation to speculation as to the possibility and ways in which the two might be related. But few of his castmates convey the same vivid impression, and Diego Luna, in his loose, soft-spoken manner, was a particularly misguided choice to make a bad-tempered adventurer. The Chinese Donnie Yen, as a mystical warrior, ended up misused in a paper that seems perfunctory and badly thought.
“Rogue One” gives the impression that it is often (even too much) that it is only fulfilling the script, marking point by point the plot booklet, which, in the end, revolves around a search for documents, closing a barrier and the location of a master button on a communications control tower.
It is a simplistic but effective material in eliciting an idea of action and that there is a lot at stake, getting even more agitated as “Rogue One” finally reaches its chaotic and disturbingly apocalyptic conclusion (at the end of two hours and 13 minutes, with at least 15 minutes more than it should).
Bestowed with the first appearance – at least in the chronological sense – of some of the most iconic characters in the “Star Wars” series, “Rogue One” represents a franchise extension exercise that should be welcome.