Review by Lauryn Angel
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the age of three, and I’ve played games, watched animated stories, and read both novels and comics. Still, when Rogue One was announced, I admit my excitement was mixed with more than a little trepidation. The idea sounded great: a story bridging the gap between episodes III and IV. But how would it really fit in with the existing films? And how might our favorite characters fit into the mix – especially since some of them have aged or passed on since A New Hope was released over 40 years ago? Having now seen it, I’m pleased to report that my misgivings were unfounded; Rogue One is a fantastic addition to the Star Wars mythos.
The story focuses on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of Imperial science officer Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), who is taken into custody by the constantly sneering Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) for a secret assignment. Galen’s loyalties are in question, however, as he orchestrates his young daughter’s escape at the hands of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a radical opponent of the Empire. When we next meet Jyn, twenty years later, she has become cynical free agent. When her interests align with the rebels, Jyn agrees to work with Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his droid K-2SO (the always wonderful Alan Tudyk), who steals the movie. The diverse crew of the Rogue One is rounded out by Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, and Wen Jiang. I’m not going to reveal the mission here, because you’ve either probably read elsewhere what it is, and if you haven’t, you’re probably trying to remain as spoiler-free as you possibly can before seeing the movie. I’ll just say that the mission sets this movie up to lead directly into A New Hope, and I’m looking forward to being able to watch the two movies back-to-back.
Rogue One is an enjoyable film for even casual Star Wars fans, but die-hard fans will probably have more fun, as there are numerous Easter eggs. The film is a bit of a slow start, but once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun. The actors all play their parts well, although some of the relationships have better chemistry than others. There are cameos from several familiar faces – some handled with CGI, which was unsettling at first, but I ultimately decided that I preferred this to recasting pivotal roles. Rogue One is a Star Wars story with very few aliens and no Jedis or lightsabers – although the Force does get mentioned several times. Michael Giacchino does a masterful impression of John Williams with his score, furthering the feel that this both is a Star Wars movie, but not a chapter in the main saga.
Ultimately, though, I found the message of the film to be timely. Jyn has to decide for herself whether, in a time of growing darkness in the universe, she will continue to live on the fringes, letting darkness gain a foothold or whether she will take a stand against it. It’s a question that I’m sure will resonate with much of the audience.