Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rogue One: I Was Fully Won Over

Movie Review: Rogue One (2016)
Version: Library Borrow

I was just about Star Warsed out. Then along came Rogue One, supposedly a one-off that fills in some blanks in the Star Wars canon, telling the story behind the building of the Empire's Death Star, how there came to be a weakness built into it, and what led to Princess Leia's now memorable message to Obi Wan Kenobi, "You're our last hope..."

Rogue One features some new charismatic characters set in a off-shoot corner of the Star Wars universe. All the suggestions of the regular Star Wars universe are there, so if you're a Star Wars fan, the mythology and magic remain, but Rogue One has the advantage of being a fresh new story. And it takes you back in the timeline to fill in blanks and you find yourself saying, "Oh, of course. Now that makes sense." "Oh, yes! Now I see."

It also features a great cast, devoid of the aw shucks reappearances of past characters that often get in the way of the narrative to pay tribute to the past. Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, the fiercely independent rogue set on destroying the Death Star. Diego Luna plays Cassian Andor, the at first reluctant pilot who sees the necessity in Erso's mission and, despite the Rebellion's decision not to attack, gathers a rag-tag band of warriors to help Erso. Among them are Chirrut Imwe, a super-adept blind Jedi warrior played by Donnie Yen, and his protector Baz Malbus, played by Wen Jiang, along with a small host of others. Together, they set up the Death Star to fail so when the Rebellion finally comes to its senses they can attack its weakness.

Their mission seems hopeless, but as always, the Empire's military are inept and everything pretty much goes the way of the rogue band of warriors. Until the end.

The special effects are pretty spectacular, too. The battle scenes, the space effects, even some character recreations for some characters whose actors are lost to us: Princess Leia and Governor Tarkin. In particular, Guy Henry is a near dead ringer (no pun intended) for the original Governor Tarkin, played by the late Peter Cushing. Credits list Ingvild Delia as playing Princess Leia, who looks very much like her original character.

I won't go into more detail about the story line. Suffice it to say, this is a fine addition to the Star Wars saga. It's entertaining, it's full of drama and action, and while it veers away from the episodic narrative a bit, Rogue One still maintains the romantic notions that fans have come to love and expect in a Star Wars film. I was prepared not to like it but instead, I was fully won over. If you haven't seen Rogue One yet, do so. You won't be disappointed.

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