Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first ever Star Wars spin-off, is out this week bringing the Death Star back to our screens, and film critic Jordan Samuel brings the ComiConverse review.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
After years of anticipation the first spin-off in Star Wars history is being released this week, taking place a few years before Luke Skywalker’s adventures in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). Fans are excited to see what stories are going to be told in this era, after suffering with the prequels: Star Wars has potential to give us wonderful stories without the Skywalker’s. So, when we learned that the rebels who stole the Death Star plans would be central to the plot, we have been pumped. I have been looking forward to this film ever since the announcement, because it expands upon the events before Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).
Concentrating on the Death Star fascinated me since the title reveal, due to the rich history behind it. Rogue rebels stealing the plans have yet to be explored in the movies and should make for a breathtaking Star Wars plot: I was pleasantly surprised when Edwards said it would be the first true war film in the franchise.
After the successful Star Wars: The Force Awakens all eyes are on Rogue One to provide another meaty franchise addition, Gareth Edwards is in the hot seat this time to bring the Death Star story-line to the big screen. Focusing on a darker take on the iconic franchise, which brings back the powerful villain Darth Vader.
But does this much anticipated film work?
Will it revive the franchise from it’s prequel curse? Let’s find out as we delve into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Jyn Erso, a Rebellion soldier and criminal, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when Mon Mothma sets her out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. With help from the Rebels, a master swordsman, and non-allied forces, Jyn will be in for something bigger than she thinks.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the most unique film in this beloved franchise, bringing back old school visuals and characters into 2016. Merging a gritty war story into the universe with some great new cast members, who should all be praised.
Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) takes the director chair here, a massive fan of his work I can confirm the man was born for this franchise. He brings an epic sense of scale into the Star Wars Universe making us care about these characters, who all have a unique connection not unlike many classic war movies. Who all feel like a proper family during the 2-hour film; guided by a smart script which takes time to develop its character.
The story is about The Rebellion’s risky mission to steal plans for the Death Star from the dark empire, setting up the epic saga which leads them into all right war. I won’t spoil anything but the film features an outstanding storyline, which combines a conflict based film into the crazy world of Star Wars. The script is great at balancing these new characters with some beautiful action scenes, which are the best in franchise history thanks to Gareth Edwards.
Edwards was the perfect director for the film, his visual flair and characterization is a match made in heaven for the script. Balancing a darker tone intriguing characters, overall developing his best film yet. Zero Dark Thirty cinematographer Greig Fraser, brings out his big guns with Rogue One honestly being the best-looking film of 2016. Eye-popping vistas bring back a sense of scale not seen in the franchise for a while, immersing me into the powerful world Gareth has set out to explore.
Outstanding British actress Felicity Jones leads this film as Jyn Erso, a fierce young rebel who doesn’t take no for an answer, providing a more experienced character than Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
She is the daughter of scientist Galen and Lyra Erso, who sometime prior to the outbreak of the Clone Wars. Jyn and her parents were captured by the Confederacy of Independent Systems, however they were rescued by Orson Krennic, an old friend of her father’s and a member of Republic Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project. Jyn was separated from her parents at the age of fifteen years old, developing a reckless and rebellious streak. She had several incidents on her record, including the forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest.
She is hardened character, driven more emotionally due to her unwanted connection with the empire. I was worried at first, but after the opening all of that was flushed away – with the powerful introduction to the role.
Felicity Jones was made for the role as her confidence shines through all, Jyn Erso is a character who will be beloved by hardcore fans and newcomers. Leading this fantastic role into iconic status, like last year’s standout Rey (Daisy Ridley) and I hope we see her in more blockbuster franchises.
Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, and Alan Tudyk’s Droid all have stuff to do who don’t feel wasted behind Felicity Jones’s Jyn Erso. Standout performance goes to Donnie Yen, who brings in some immense action scenes into the universe; with one that will go down in history’ as Disney casting department should be happy with the lead hitting all the right strings.
Now the elephant in the room Darth Vader, I’m not going to get in any detail but expect a neat sequence near the end. I cannot explain it in this review but stay tuned as the official podcast should be filmed on Saturday, as we delve into the big baddie.
Now despite the fact Rogue One is a prequel, telling a story to which everyone already knows the ending. This may sound crazy, but knowing the ending adds some tension to things, as seeing the story unfold on the big screen felt so right. It elevates into something else, a celebration of all things Star Wars; while being darker the famous humor is still here, the comedic timing is all in the best places that work in the film’s favor.
It may be gritter than Force Awakens, but it still feels like a film that should be seen with a family; celebrating the rich history of this iconic franchise. Gareth Edwards makes the best Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back surpassing the amazing Force Awakens, bringing a dark tone to the masses while balancing some lovely characters.
Rogue One is a powerful start to the Star Wars Anthology series, bringing us a great addition to the great franchise. Disney have another film in the series begging production on the untitled Han Solo movie
Let’s hope it continues this trend of engaging Sci-fi movies.
Jordan Samuel is a Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel
Rogue One is another grand-slam for the beloved franchise, with Gareth Edwards delivering the best film since The Empire Strikes Back.