Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Spoiler-Free Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Let me start by saying that The Empire Strikes Back was my favorite of all the Star Wars films. That's right, "was" my favorite of all the Star Wars films. Rogue One easily is my favorite Star Wars film. It is easily better than The Force Awakens. This is an original story set in the Star Wars mythos that is plot-driven and not character-driven.

This will be a spoiler-free review of Rogue One.

We know that the film is about the group of rebels who steal the plans to the Death Star. Make no mistake, this is a war film, the darkest of all the Star Wars films. A film in the trenches that shows the horrors of war when a small band of rebels is up against the galactic might of the Empire. You will feel the desperation of the Rebels. You will understand what it feels like to live in this universe under the impression of the Empire. Rogue One skillfully combines both the war-weariness of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the sense of what one person can do from Star Wars Rebels.

Vader is just one of the familiar faces we see and he is absolutely menacing. Plus, it is fantastic to hear James Earl Jones voicing Vader again. The new characters remind me in many ways of The Dirty Dozen. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Cassian are fantastic together. The story arcs for these two are very well done. You completely understand what is motivating Jyn and Cassian throughout the movie. My two favorite characters are the droid K-2SO and Donnie Yen's Chirrut. K-2SO's sense of humor and Chirrut's belief in The Force are standouts. The rest of the ensemble is great as well. We get wonderful performances and they will quickly become fan favorites.

Rogue One puts the "War" in Star Wars. It stands out from the episodic films. The battle scenes are epic. The story is dark and takes us to new places within the Star Wars Universe. It blends perfectly into Episode 4, not just the end of Rogue One but throughout its entirety.

The Force Is With Us as the first stand-alone Star Wars film sets a high standard for the rest of the stand-alone films that will follow.

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