Rogue One delivers the tried and true formula that can be expected from any Star Wars film, and succeeds in entertaining its audience on almost every front.
Rogue One follows the events tt between Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith and Episode 4 – A New Hope. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her rag-tag group of rebels venture out on a dangerous mission to secure the plans of the Empire’s latest planet-killing machine, the Death Star. Out to stop them at every turn is the Empire’s man-in-charge of Death Star affairs, Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn).
The above premise serves as the foundation of the film’s plot, though there’s a lot more to it then that. The film covers various themes such as family dynamics, trust, power struggles, faith and more, while also trying to stimulate the senses with epic action sequences, gorgeous cinematography, stunning set and creature design. It succeeds for the most part, with director Gareth Edwards taking you on a nostalgia trip back to the film universe created by George Lucas 40 years ago, one that’s transcended the medium it began on, reserving a spot in pop-culture history.
On the aesthetic side of things, Rogue One is by far the best looking film of the 7 others that precede it. Australian cinematographer Greig Fraser has done a remarkable job of composing the shots in this film, setting it apart from all the other films with its own unique style, whilst still remaining connected to the overall Star Wars universe. The use of practical effects in the film helped it achieve its outstanding visuals, though it’s not completely without any hitches. There are a few moments where the use of computer graphics are so obvious that they pull you out of the film, which is a huge shame when you consider all the effort that must have been involved in achieving the desired affect without the use of CGI, only to then insert it somewhere where it probably wasn’t necessary, spoiling the good experience up until that point.
Thankfully, those moments are few and far between. We can overlook those errors of judgement in favour of the excellent characters and performances, along with the exhilarating action. Each character (and there are many) is well written, with the standouts being Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, Diego Luna’s Captain Cassian Andor and Alan Tudyk’s droid character K-2SO. Andor and K-2SO essentially serve as this film’s version of Han Solo and Chewbacca, which is fine as even though they appear to be inspired by those characters, the actors that play them make them their own. Luna is great, Tudyk is funny, and a special shoutout to Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, who completely owned his performance of the blind, Jedi-like spiritual soldier.
They’re the standouts on the good-guys front, and there really are no bad performances from anyone on that side. From the bad-guys side of things, we really only have Orson Krennic as the main representative. Ben Menelsohn is fantastic in anything he’s in, and he once again proves it here by displaying a range of characteristics, even if he was somewhat limited due to the script’s restrictive nature of his character. Krennic had the potential to become a classic villain in the Star Wars universe, but was unfortunately overshadowed by his superiors in the Empire’s hierarchy (including Darth Vader, who steals a scene or two in the film). Had the script allowed for Krennic to flex his muscles in every aspect on the fight against the rebellion, he may have come across as more memorable in the long run. Sadly that wasn’t the case, and Mendelsohn is hardly to blame.
Star Wars films are all well known for their scores, and it must be mentioned that regular composer John Williams was not used to score this film, though his work is still featured in some segments. Michael Giacchino takes over duties in that respect and does a commendable job. Upon first viewing, his score may not come across as iconic as some of the stuff that Williams has produced for the franchise, however it’s also likely due to the fact that you’re wrapped up in everything else that’s going on in the film to even notice. It is however fair to say that his score does blend in nicely with the visuals and story-arcs, and it sets a thrilling pace throughout the film.
Rogue One’s best attribute is how it manages to pull you in emotionally. The characters are extremely likeable and the themes are relatable, so no matter what critique you end up having of the film, it will still manage to hook you in from start to finish, which is all you can ask for from any film.
Michael Giacchino will compose the music for this film. He has composed every film directed by J.J. Abrams except, ironically, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.