Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen
Rating: 3/5 stars
Director Gareth Edwards has just given a fresh breath to Star Wars franchise which was getting outdated with its recurring narrative and stale approach. After watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), I had little hopes for Rogue One, but this film surprises you with its different take on the story and specially the CGI which has matured to an apt level of today’s cinematic technology.
A prequel to Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Rogue One dives into the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Galen is forced to build a death star for the empire which is lurking a gigantic shadow of terror on the galaxy. The only way to stop it is the Rebellion, and to unite and inspire this rebellion, Jyn is going to play an integral part.
Honestly, I am bored with the narrative of empire’s never ending desire to rule the galaxy in which it never succeeds. So, the script of Rogue One is nothing new but compared to its previous parts, this is at least a positive leap where we don’t have many characters to attend to. Jyn and Erso’s emotional connect is written only to an extent it is necessary so it doesn’t become a teary drama and cliché.
The character writing of Jyn is efficient and I would say, the Force is strong with her. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) was a good addition to support Jyn’s mission and he strengthens the story. A Jedi-ish warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) was weakly penned down. The script of Rogue One has a good focus from the start to destroy the plans of empire to make the death star. Fortunately, the writers didn’t engross more into making it a look like a bold prequel but kept it simple.
Image Source: Lucas Films Ltd.
Coming to Gareth Edwards, who last directed Godzilla (2014). Gareth actually matured this franchise to the taste of today’s evolved audience. Without much fuss and robotic non-sense, he tells the story in a humanized way and maintains it interesting throughout. The film starts with Jyn and Erso’s background to impart an emotional quotient. The first few minutes get a bit chaotic with multiple character introductions. But, once that is past, the direction is healthy. With the help of Greig Fraser, Gareth has created powerful and realistic visuals. The CGI of fights and different locations felt authentic. This is great work by production design.
What I loved more in direction is how Gareth kept the attention only to the core characters. Apart from Jyn, Erso and Cassian, rest of the cast was not needlessly involved. The screenplay is not the highlight of the film but it is entertaining. The fights in Jedi city, during Erso’s rescue plans and the final phase were electrifying. All in all, Rogue One makes a good case to watch which was not the case for the previous part. As Felicity Jones says in the film, ‘Rebellion is built on hope’, I would say, this film actually gives hope to this franchise for its further endeavours, thanks to the director.
Felicity Jones has become quite a favorite name for big banner films. She has that mysterious and firm look which gives a natural hint for such roles of rebel. She holds that look very well in the film. Mostly serious and determined to rescue her father, Felicity delivers a strong role for audience to witness and enjoy. Some scenes of her with the robot are fun.
Mads Mikkelsen gives a fair emotional performance to make the father-daughter combo work. Diego Luna is perfect as a Captain of the ship and he adds the variety to the story. Donnie Yen was not really impressive. He had been given too many dialogues and most of them were just chanting of ‘Force’ related stuff. He fights well but not as amazing as his ‘IP Man’ fights. Of course, the action director should be blamed for that.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is surprisingly good. A simple story is told with Gareth Edwards’ smart direction. The visuals and CGI give the film a strong backing. This film takes a different approach compared to the last parts of the Star Wars franchise and that’s why it succeeds in impressing.