Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as I wrote last year, had a lot riding on it.
As the first canonical Star Wars film set outside of the original trilogies, it needs to perform well because…in many ways…it is an experiment.
Yes, it`s true that fans flocked to The Force Awakens but retro is hot right now (look no further than Jurassic World’s massive success) and it featured our beloved Han Solo, Chewie, Leia, and more.
Rogue One had none of that.
A completely original cast and a completely original story meant they were treading new ground; ground that they hope is fertile with possibly half a dozen Star Wars Story films in the works. (Han Solo Trilogy, Boba Fett, Yoda, Obi-Wan.)
This review does not contain spoilers.
So far so good for the new world of Star Wars. With a strong Thursday night box office, very positive reviews, and full Friday numbers to come, Rogue One looks like it will do what Disney needs it to do to maintain the Star Wars juggernaut it’s creating.
But really, this is a review about Rogue One.
You might be asking, why is Rogue One a paradox. It’s a simple question to answer. The film offers both the expected…and the unexpected.
The characters are strong, particularly Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso (another strong female lead from Lucasfilm), and despite a large ensemble are each given their moment to shine. Particular attention should be given to Alan Tudyk’s motion capture performance as K2-S0 as he steals most every scene he’s in.
The visuals are stunning, particularly the contrasting landscapes the characters visit throughout the film. The deserts are barren, lifeless, and offer little hope, but the beaches hint at life, the future, and the hope of a better tomorrow. It’s a beautifully shot film.
The Director, Gareth Edwards, also smartly (and selectively) integrated cameos to subtly remind viewers they were watching a story that is very much in the world of the original Star Wars trilogy. These cameos set the scene; they enhance it, but don’t dominate it.
Where the film is unexpected is how the story progresses and how the characters are used.
Frankly, both were refreshing. Saying any more verges into spoiler territory.
Ultimately, the filmmakers found a way to create a compelling narrative that fits right into the heart of Star Wars.
The film began slowly, which is really the only negative, but after Rogue One dives into the meat of its story, there`s no turning back.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theatres now.