I was a little nervous going into this film. The resurgence of Star Wars films in the last 17 years has led to ups and downs, and more downs than ups. I enjoyed the recent addition to the saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but was unclear as to how Rogue One was going to fit in with the Star Wars story. My initial impression was that this film would be the first part of a new trilogy. After watching it, I am glad that it is a standalone piece that fits in spectacularly with the original trilogy.
It is hard to dive into too many specifics that I enjoyed about this movie without giving away spoilers. The fact that the story is a stand alone film allowed the filmmakers to get creative in ways that break the mold of traditional hero stories. One major example of this is how they were able to treat characters. The film is essentially a “prequel” creating a lack of flexibility in terms of how it could end. This lack of flexibility opened up a massive amount of room for creativity and flexibility within the rest of the story. It is clear that the writers and creators took their time with the story and character development.
The writers embraced the restricted nature of the story parameters and capitalized on them by making it concise, engaging, and unexpected. The icing on the cake is how they seamlessly tied it in to Star Wars: A New Hope. It is clear that they made an effort to trim the fat while making this film, which can hardly be said for Episodes 1 – 3.
There are no clear aspects of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that stand out as groundbreaking. However, the film features some stalwart acting that preserves the Star Wars tradition and allows the film to be more than just a sci-fi adventure film with a bunch of explosions.
The acting by Ben Mendelsohn stood out as a real anchor for this film. His presence throughout the film captures the scene and the viewer. I did not notice him much before The Dark Knight and The Place Beyond the Pines, but I foresee a tremendous continuation of his career in the future.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an excellent addition to the saga. I hope that future projects will follow suite. The best parts of this film are the acting by everyone involved and the fact that it was only one movie and not stretched, unnecessarily, out into a trilogy. I hope future blockbuster’s take note and focus on well rounded storytelling and follow through, like that seen Rogue One.
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Cinematography: Greig Fraser
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker
Runtime: 2h 13m
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures