Rogue One is the first Star Wars film that is considered to be part of the anthology line. It does not follow the Skywalker saga aka the Episodes. So while this film does something different, it still plays it somewhat safe. Taking place immediately before the events in A New Hope about the group of rebels who stole the plans for the Death Star mentioned in the opening crawl of that movie. So while we can all guess the conclusion of this movie, how was the ride?
This is arguably my favorite Star Wars film since the original trilogy. I might like it more or equally to A New Hope. This is such a different film in the Star Wars canon. Even though the word has always been in the title, this is really the first ‘War’ film. This movie is dirty. There is mention of saboteurs and assassins on the side of the good guys. Showing that in war that are more shades of grey and not just black and white.
The plot of the film revolves around the theft of the Death Star plans. Jyn Erso is the daughter of Galen Erso who designed the weapons system to the Death Star all at the behest of Orson Krennic. Along the way Jyn is recruited by the Rebel Alliance and forced to work with Cassian Andor and droid K2SO. Along the way they recruit Bodhi Rook, Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus while encountering Saw Gerrera.
The movie has the unique position of being a direct prequel while being its own thing. It does succeed on this level as there are enough cameos from characters who are important to the mythology and could appear in this film. A talking point is going to be how CGI is used to digitally recreate actors who are either deceased or aged out of the role. Sometimes it is noticeable while others it is not. It is still a relatively new technology but it is leaps and bounds from where it was only a few years ago.
The film is visceral in its unique style. The locales are all shot to highlight their own unique traits, before and after conflict. We have never seen a battle on a beach front until this movie especially in broad daylight. The entire third act deserves its own mention as things hit the fan and captures multiple battles simultaneously while never losing track of each individual aspect.
When losing at the credits, you see all the people who worked on the movie. There were rumors about problems in the production and how this movie might suffer from it. But if it takes a village to make a great film, then so be it. Everyone listed in the credits deserves a pat on the back for their work on the film. It is one of the best films of 2016.
Bonus: Darth Vader does not have a major presence in the film so if you were expecting him to be, you will be disappointed.
He does get the best scene in the film.