Last year when The Force Awakens came out Star Wars fans felt like they had been given a gift from the nerd gods and also an apology for the prequels. Hate it or love it, The Force Awakens brought back Star Wars in a big way. Giving us a new, yet familiar story, for all generations to enjoy. If Force Awakens was the movie you waited for to remind you of the joy you can have in the Star Wars universe, then Rogue One is the movie you have been waiting 30 years for. Because it’s one of the best Star Wars films made, ranking right next to Empire.
Ever since we saw A New Hope and Leia gave the Death Star plans to R2, fans have always wondered how did she get those plans? What adventures did we not see? Well some 30 years later that story can now be told: We meet Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) who is forcibly teamed up with rebel super spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s new super weapon, The Death Star. Gathering a team of rebel fighters, they set out to get the plans and stop The Empire if it’s the last thing they do.
It’s a simple story with a massive impact on the entire Star Wars universe itself. Without this story to get the plans we have no original trilogy. This is an important story to tell and was done amazingly by director Gareth Edwards. He managed to tell a new story, while keeping the retro feeling of the original films and answering all the questions fans have had for many years.
Felicity Jones as Jyn is fantastic. She’s your typical rogue turned hero, and keeping with the Han Solo tradition, she falls into something bigger than herself and embraces it, knowing it’s her path. She’s tough, full of grit and ready to do what’s right. She’s teamed up with Cassian, played wonderfully by Diego Luna. Cassian is played like a young war veteran who has done and seen it all. He’s trained to follow orders and that’s all he knows, but after meeting Jyn, he’s forced to look at himself and wonder if the orders he’s following are always the right order. Their differences are what make them a perfect fit for this important mission they have taken on themselves.
Along the way to the Death Star plans they gather a small group of amazing characters that will all go down in Star Wars history: Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, a spiritual warrior-monk, who may or may not have Force abilities; Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus, a freelance assassin; and like all good Star Wars films an awesome sardonic droid, K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk, a Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer droid whose memory is wiped by Cassian. Each is incredible. All have their moment in the film, several actually. They’re all believable in the role and each breathes life into the character. These are our heroes for a suicide mission. We believe in them and they bring us we hope as audience members.
Not to be left out of course is what all good Star Wars films give us, a villain. Ben Mendelsohn plays Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military. Basically he’s in charge of the getting the Death Star built. He craves all the glory for getting it made, especially praise from The Emperor himself. He never tires of letting it be known how displeased he is with Grand Moff Tarkin “stealing his glory.” Orson is a perfect example of how cutthroat The Empire can be. He has had many years of success in the Empire so when he begins to fall out of favor he’ll stop at nothing to gain it back.
The special effects are gorgeous. Each effect is perfect. There is little flawed with anything in the film to be honest: The look, feel, the effects, costumes and all the sets: each is perfect and absolutely stunning to the eye. This is a movie that reminds you just how good Star Wars can be. Also nice to know we can have a movie that has nothing to do with the Skywalker storyline. It helped a great deal. I, as a huge fan, have always wondered what the rest of the galaxy was doing. Now we get to see it, and it is brilliant.
One personal note: Yes, Darth Vader is in the movie. Not a lot, but when he’s there you remember why he’s the Dark Lord of the Sith. The prequels, for me, took a bit of weight out of Vader, knowing there was a little bitch in the suit, where before he was the epitome of all things evil, and by far still one of cinema’s greatest villains of all time. So when I heard he was going to cameo in the movie, I was super stoked. I won’t say much, but I will say this: it was nice to be reminded why he gave me nightmares as child. He is the ultimate badass in the galaxy once again.
This is perfect Star Wars movie; it’s second to Empire. And I really do stand by that statement. It’s everything you need/want it to be. Great acting, wonderful effects, and amazing story with great new characters we’ll see being cosplayed as soon as Con season starts up. For me, this was the Star Wars movie I have been waiting to see since Jedi.