Friday, December 16, 2016 9:00 am ·  1 Comment
Star Wars is arguably the most valuable film franchise in history, and with that comes a legacy with gravitas. Some movies with the title are less than stellar, while most uphold the lofty expectations. Rogue One joins the latter, and is both unique and massively entertaining as a holiday spectacular.
Last year episode seven of the Star Wars canon destroyed dozens of box office records, and the fan fever skyrocketed to an all-time high. It’s satisfying for this year’s Star Wars movie to justify the now-annual entry to the franchise. Star Wars is here to stay, and if the movies are this exciting? That’s okay with me.
While this is technically the eighth Star Wars film, this definitely isn’t episode eight. This is considered a spinoff movie, outside the traditional story. (For the uber-fans, Rogue One is between episodes three and four in the timeline.)
There are some quickly noticeable differences from other Star Wars movies. There are no rolling titles at the beginning, and Michael Giacchino writes new themes to mix with the traditional ones by John Williams. But many characters, moments, and cinematic shots and angles echoing scenes that made Star Wars iconic are also included in the recipe.
In Episode Four: A New Hope there is a line of dialogue where a captain outlines the difficulty in obtaining the building plans for the Death Star. Rogue One’s story focuses on a team of misfit characters and their quest to obtain those plans. Add in a dash of space mythology and history, and it adds up to one terrific showdown.
Director Gareth Edwards includes some nods and homages to other famous blockbusters throughout to elevate the cinematic scope. I spotted some quick references to movies like The Magnificent Seven and Saving Private Ryan in the battle scenes, and another from All The President’s Men at a galactic council meeting.
But just as J. J. Abrams did so effectively last December, Edwards succeeds best because it feels like an old school Star Wars movie. The battles are sensational, the actors engaging, and the Force is sold as a truly authentic convention. The actors’ seriousness make the whole thing believable this maybe could be real in a galaxy far away.
Most surprising, Rogue One is just as resonant as it is ravishing. Especially with the current focus on humanitarian crises around the world. The movie shows how devastating the casualties of war can be. It’s important to understand how destructive war is to both sides, and why government is responsible for overseeing how the civilians should be allowed to live.
Some moments are heartbreaking, and there is a definite darkness rarely seen in the saga. The cast is excellent at delivering these intense scenes, while still being an uplifting, entertaining film with spectacle to spare. And speaking of darkness, when a certain villain shows up, boy does he bring evil, in a few excellent, pivotal scenes.
So for fans cautious about the quality and artistic justification of a Star Wars spinoff, breathe easy. It may not achieve the interstellar heights of the greats like Empire Strikes Back or The Force Awakens, but it does bring the razzle dazzle in a pulse-pounding way.
Rogue One is the go-to blockbuster for the holiday season, and is a great finale to Disney’s outstanding year at the box office. Expect big crowds for the first two weekends and the week before New Years. But maybe this is one of those movies you want to enjoy with a big crowd, and marvel at the stars together.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3 1/2 out of 4 stars.
PG, 134 minutes. Sci-Fi Fantasy.
Directed by Gareth Edwards.
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, and Ben Mendelsohn.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, Cineplex Oakville & VIP, and pretty much every cinema in Canada.
A New Hope, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendolsohn, Buena Vista, December 16th 2016, Diego Luna, Disney, Fantasy, Felicity Jones, Film.Ca Cinemas, Gareth Edwards, J. J. Abrams, John Williams, Michael Giacchino, Movies, reviews, Rogue One, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sci-Fi, Spinoff, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens