Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story review - 'Finally, a worthy prequel to the iconic space saga'
It’s hard to suppress a grin as those infamous blue words appear modestly on screen: ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...’
Where The Force Awakens was a colourful albeit exciting romp that borrowed heavily from the original films' most iconic moments, Rogue One delves into a darker, subtler chapter in the Star Wars story. Characters are unsure of each other, the sides of politics blurred, and not everything can be solved with a Jedi and their lightsaber. These are not the escapades of the Rebel Alliance’s privileged elite: this is the story about how a war-torn galaxy has affected the people on the ground who have become embroiled in a dangerous conflict.
The film acts as a stand-alone story, rather than an ‘episode’. Though don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the weak-willed little brother of the bigger saga. Rogue One delivers a narrative that not only supports episodes I-VII, but also adds a degree of emotion, humanity and – crucially - threat to the series that was missing in the much-maligned prequels.
Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the fugitive rebel fighter and daughter of Death Star architect, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Her determination and leadership manages to follow the history of strong intergalactic women after Princess Leia, Padme Amidala, and Daisy Ridley's Rey. Alongside Jyn stands Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a volatile Alliance captain who teams up with Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a defected Imperial pilot. As the development of the Empire’s new superweapon seems inevitably close, Jyn forms a team of rogue rebels who plot to seize the Death Star plans.
Fans will leave satisfied as classic icons appear alongside new ideas and characters. As actress Felicity Jones explained to Attitude herself, the intention was to “combine those classic elements with modern ideas”. This story does just that. Audiences are greeted with old faces such as Rebel Alliance leader, Mon Mothma, and Grand Moff Tarkin, whose character is smartly preserved with CGI technology. New characters are introduced and are sure to become firm favourites.
Also of note is droid K-2SO, who provides necessary comic relief against the bleak future faced by the Alliance. Where C-3PO is brittle and domestic, K-2SO appears more industrial and powerful. His dry analytical mind and sarcasm make him an instant charm in every scene.
Rogue One also addresses the lack of diversity present in the original Star Wars films. Jyn is a highly trained independent-minded female soldier who leads a diverse cast of rebels. Similarly, blind warrior-come-Jedi fanatic Churrit Imwe (Donnie Yen) is the coolest character of the group.
New Star Wars fans might find the introductions to characters, planets, moons, and even the political subtext of the setting is served fast and with frenetic pace. However, to the seasoned fan, Rogue One acts as the slick missing puzzle to the saga, neatly fitting itself gracefully alongside previous instalments, and finally delivering a worthy prequel to episode IV’s A New Hope.
Rating: 4.5/5Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits UK cinemas tomorrow (December 16).
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