Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rogue One (2016)

Disney plans to release one Star Wars movie every year. So far, they have hit the bullseye two out of two!

Rogue One's story serves as a prologue to Episode IV: A New Hope (1977). So if you've seen Episode IV (well, who hasn't?), you already know that Rogue's One objective is going to be achieved. This makes it similar to a historical drama (e.g., you already know which side won WWII). But an effective filmmaker can still make you excited and thrilled about what's going to happen!

The team behind Rogue One - directed by Gareth Edwards, and written by John Knoll, Gary Whitta, Chris Weitz, and Tony Gilroy - do a magnificent job of making you care about the characters as well as the outcome! The story makes a lot of sense! It even elevates Episode IV by giving sound explanations to some of Episode IV's plot holes. Rogue One also shows how the rebel alliance came to act as a unit in the New Hope. In short, the alliance had good leadership, but they were disjointed. The empire's deployment of the Death Star gave the alliance a common cause to put aside their differences and act together. This little plot development is analogue to many events in the past as well as recent history! But I digress...

The film is 134 minutes long. It paces the story pretty well. The first half is spent on character building, and it takes a while for the story to pick up. But the second half delivers in spades! I don't remember if I blinked an eye during the second half! Well, of course I'm exaggerating, but there were three battles going on at the same time (similar to the third act in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)!... The slower progression of the first half was perhaps necessary to build up to the second half and make it this much better!

Rogue One doesn't have a main character. One could argue that Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has the most amount of screen time; thus, she is the star! But, in my opinion, Jyn was merely a plot device to tell the story. The other members of the ensemble were as integral to the plot as Jyn was. The connection that you make with the new droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), and Baze Maibus (Wen Jiang) is on par with what you felt for Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewy. Of course the characters from the original trilogy had names that were easier to remember! Other that this, Rogue One's characters are developed magnificently!

I should commend Disney for two reasons: first, they didn't spoil the movie during their marketing campaign (unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice). The trailers didn't give away much of the plot - they had scenes that were not even in the movie! Second, Disney and LucasFilm were really bold with how they developed this story and let it come to fruition.!You expect these companies to milk a property till the last drop, but Disney let Rogue One to be a unique chapter within the Star Wars universe!

Hardcore and even casual fans of Star Wars (I'm actually in the latter category) would love this movie; the story is beautiful and complements the original trilogy really well! In addition, some of the small references (e.g., Red Leader) are really nostalgic! Newcomers to the Star Wars saga could also enjoy Rogue One immensely. It is a well-told story, with likeable characters, and beautiful cinematography and action! The score doesn't rise to John Williams' quality of work, but that is a small gripe...

For the sheer entertainment value, and out of respect for Disney for their leadership, I'd give Rogue One a 10/10!

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