OK I’m going to indulge my inner nerd and review Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This review may contain spoilers- if this bothers you then perhaps best not to read on.
Unlike other movies in the franchise Rogue 1 doesn’t open with the traditional scrolling text giving the context of the story. As such we, the audience, know little about exactly when it is set in terms of the Star Wars time line (we know , from the information released in the marketing of the movie, that it’s set before a New Hope but not exactly how many years before. Initially this bothered me as the scrolling text is as much as part of Star Wars as light Sabres and storm troopers. However you soon forgot this and get drawn into the story.
The basic plot of Rogue One isn’t really that original. The enemy are building a super weapon. The good guys need to stop it somehow. Along the way we find out that the designer of the weapon wasn’t so bad and built in a flaw and that the not everyone acts honourable all the time. But then I’d argue that people don’t necessarily watch Star Wars for an original story but for how that story is put together.
What makes the the film is the little ‘extras’ that give more of the background to the Star Wars story. the sort of extras that you usually find in books rather than films. For example the Storm Troopers are much more ‘human’ in this. You see them complaining about guard duty, or discussing the new landspeeder.
Other highlights, for me, includes finding out a bit more about the Jedi order and those tasked with guarding an ancient temple. A largely redundant task since Anakin went a bit nuts and killed all the Jedi. The temple is based on a world which also mines the crystals needed for the Death Star, the same crystals as used in the Jerdi’s light sabres. All in all these details make for a more rounded story than usual.
As expected with any Star Wars film the special effects we’re, excuse the pun, out of this world. One particular note worthy effect was the with the character Governer Tarkin. Talk was originally played by Peter Chusing, who died many years ago. The clever use of CGI turned Guy Henry into an exact replica of Cushing from the original films. If you didn’t know Cushing had passed away you would have dismissed the slightly odd looks own to dodgy lighting or something.
The clever blend of archive footage as the rebels attach the imperial fleet was a nice touch. In fact this was so see less that I initially thought they had reshot some of the X wing scenes with the same actors/characters. It was only afterwards that I found out the truth!
Towards the end of the film I started to get worried. We know how the film i end because we know how ‘A New Hope’ begins. Butwouldit? Would there be a gap between the two with unanswered questions? Actually this was a needless worry. Without giving too much away I honestly think this was the most perfect ending to a film I have ever seen.
Many people have said that this was a good, stand alone, film that both Star Wars fans and those new to Star Wars will enjoy. I’m not so sure. While non-Star Wars fans might enjoy the film I think it relies on at least a basic knowledge of what’s gone before and will come after to appreciate and enjoy it. It raises too many questions for the non Star Wars an which probably would get in the way of fully enjoying the film.You definitely need at least a basic understanding of Star Wars chronology in order to appreciate the plot.
The question is: what next?
The original story line continues but there, should, be other ‘stand alone’ films in the pipe line. Which story should be next? Personally I’d like to find out a bit more about what Kenobi gets up to after Clone Wars. Or perhaps a Yoda story (he is over 900 years old, that must have a few tales to tell.)