Monday, January 9, 2017

Movie with Abe: Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Released December 16, 2016

When the original “Star Wars” trilogy was released, “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi” came out three years apart. Two decades later, the prequel trilogy, “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith” followed the same format, spanning nine years and taking in plenty of box office dollars. Now, anticipation for the sequel trilogy means that each subsequent film will debut only two years after the previous one, and not only that, standalone anthology films will be released in the years in between. “Rogue One” can’t match the excitement of the regular series, but it’s still an expectedly enjoyable ride.

Set before episode four (the first film chronologically released), “Rogue One” follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of a scientist (Mads Mikkelsen) who has been forced to create the Death Star, and the Rebel Alliance’s attempt to use her to authenticate the story of defecting Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) that could change the course of the longstanding battle against the Empire’s control of the galaxy. Jyn and Bodhi join Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to lead a ragtag team intent on turning the tide in favor of the rebels and scoring a major victory for the good guys.

The plot of “Rogue One” has significant ties to the third and fourth installments of the official “Star Wars” saga but contains few true links to either. A handful of important cameos, including two characters recreated with the considerable aid of visual effects due to its portrayers being dead and much older, respectively, do happen, mostly to remind audience members that this does relate to the main narrative. In many ways, however, it feels like an unnecessary installment, and the purposeful use of slightly different music, the lack of an opening crawl, and the absence of any Jedi serve to underline the fact that, however hard it may try, it’s not one of the real “Star Wars” movies.

Even a mediocre “Star Wars” entry, however, is still a solid recipe for a good time. The setting of a tree-lined beach for one of the film’s main extended battle scenes is a superb visual choice, and the effects are top-notch as usual, even if they do fall into the trap of seeming more modern than what was shown in the original trilogy. Luna and Jones make a fun team, and the standouts in the cast are Ben Mendelsohn as the main villain of the film and Alan Tudyk as the voice of K-2S0, the reprogrammed Imperial droid with an attitude. The film ends on an exciting note connecting it back to the original trilogy, but there’s still a pervading sense that this perfectly decent film just wasn’t necessary.


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