A War Before The New Hope - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells the tale of how the Death Star came to be. Scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) goes into hiding with his family on a planet far from the Death Star, but that does not stop Imperial Commander Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) from finding him. When he does, the family resists, but Galen's wife dies. Their daughter escapes, but rebel fighter Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), himself an extremist by rebel standards, rescues her. Galen, meanwhile, unwillingly works on the Death Star under the direction of Krennic. Years later, a grown Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) finds herself in the hands of the Empire as a slave laborer. A Rebel force led by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) rescues Jyn and offers her a chance to rescue Galen.
This effort is aided by Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a pilot who has defected from the Empire with information about Gerrera and Galen, who have had contact with one another. He came in his fighter, though Gerrera took him prisoner. The communication Rook brought includes the location of the Death Star plans on a planet called Scarif. Gerrera and the other Rebels join forces, with a team that includes blind warrior Chinut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). The Rebels also have the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) in their cause to use as a distraction for this mission, should they elude Imperial detection. They find themselves racing against time as Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) presses Krennic to do a small scale test of the Death Star.
Rogue One successfully bridges the gap between the events of Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. It is also one of the most dramatic efforts in the Star Wars-related film series. Fans of the films can likely guess how things will end, but still gives viewers a set of compelling characters and their motives. The Rebels know their window of opportunity has come with the intelligence they have gathered, and they also know that window is a very small one. Any mistake might ensure the Empire succeeds with the Death Star and its impending test. The script comes from the unlikely duo of Tony Gilroy, who wrote several Bourne movies, and Chris Weitz, the co-creator of the American Pie movies. They make sure the story connects in a sensible and entertaining fashion. Gareth Edwards, perhaps best known for his Godzilla movie from 2014, delivers the action as the Rebels and the Empire fight a fierce battle for control of the galaxy. Some of the CGI wasn't the best as the recreations of Grand Moff Tarkin (voiced by Guy Henry) and Princess Leia Organa (voiced by Ingveld Deila) don't blend seamlessly with the rest of the visuals.
The ensemble does fine work here. Felicity Jones shows she's a tough warrior, especially when it comes to a rescue mission for her father. Like Galen, she has fight in her, even when she doesn't make that obvious to the Empire. Luna presents himself as a wise and skilled warrior in Captain Andor, who best understands the gravity of the mission. Whitaker, as Gerrera, may not always agree with the Rebels, but he is a veteran fighter willing to continue fighting the Empire, as he had in the Clone Wars TV series. Tudyk adds comic relief as K-2SO, a droid looking for a chance to fight with the Rebels. Yen and Wan make an interesting pair as warriors who believe in the Force, though neither are Jedi Knights. Mikkelsen and Ahmed add good touches with their supporting roles. In addition to James Earl Jones, other familiar Star Wars characters who make brief appearances include Anthony Daniels as C3PO and Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa.
A long time ago, George Lucas introduced viewers to a band of renegades and somewhat reluctant warriors who fought to make sure the feared Empire did not gain control of an entire galaxy through unprecedented destruction. The subsequent gaps in storytelling, though, left other tales to explain more fully what had happened in this battle. Rogue One definitely fills the gap between Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope. It definitely has me anxious to see the subsequent Star Wars sequels and the project with a young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Rogue One shows a force is still strong with this series.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Rouge One: A Star Wars Story 3.5 stars. Never a better time to go rogue.