While the trailers give a general gist of what the movie is about, they don't spoil a lot, and to keep that up, neither will I, so this plot outline is going to be very vague. But essentially, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story revolves around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who's a young rebel on the run. She's taken in by the resistence, who come to her with a proposition. If she helps track down her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who's critical to the devlepment of a superweapon known as the Death Star, then they'll clear her name of all previous crimes. She accepts, joined by a crew consisting of Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and an imperial droid named K-2S0 (Alan Tudky). Together, they form Rogue One, bonded together to find Galen and steal the plans of the dreaded Death Star.
A rule of thumb when it comes to Star Wars is that the story always moves forwards. There's no dawdling and no flashbacks. Rogue One, in its glorious standalone nature, decides to break the mould. It begins in the past, a young Jyn getting the centre stage (or at least part of it, as the earlier scenes are definitely more about her father, as advertised in the trailers. Don't worry, this is not a spoiler. I'm not going to spoil a thing). There's even a flashback sequence, allowing for Jyn to receive a little more characterisation and allow for a deeper emotional bond to form between her and the audience. Throughout the course of the film, she goes from rebel to soldier, and she makes for a highly compelling protagonist.
While I was a big fan of Jyn and the story she tells, especially how it relates back to her father, the characters I loved the most were the supporting cast. Chirrut Imwe, a blind man with strong beliefs in the force, was by far my favourite character. One of the earliest scenes he's in is one of the coolest moments of the entire film, and everything with him in it after that was just brilliant. He's charismatic, extremely likeable, kicks ass when he needs to and brings a particuarly innocent style of humour to this dark world. While not a force user, he's a force follower, and this made for some highly investing plot elements. His friendship with Blaze is fun, but it's not until the third act where Blaze really stood out. However, that's not to say he was at all bad in the first two acts.
Also on board the crew are Cassian Andor and Bodhi Rook. While Bodie may be my least favourite, that's not to say I didn't love him. I did. He really surprised me. He ends up being of great importance all the way throughout the film, and the performance is great. The same goes for Cassian, who I felt was probably the most developed and realised character in the movie. There's even times where I felt as though he was of more importance than Jyn, but every time I thought that Jyn would come back into action and show everyone who's boss. The dynamic the two of them have is really something, and while it was starting to lean in a direction I was unsure about, they managed to turn things around and do it well.
2014's Godzilla reboot was met to mixed, but generally positive reactions from fans and critics alike. What was undeniable about that film, however, was how well it was made. Director Gareth Edwards put himself on the map with that film, following his debut with Monsters a few years earlier. He's a true talent, and he handles Rogue One with care and enthusiasm. If you've seen any interview with him for this movie, you'll see just how big of a Star Wars fanatic he is, and his love and admiration for this universe becomes abundantly clear while watching this film. It's set in the period of A New Hope, and it feels like it. The cinematography is stunning, the landscapes well realised and the overall grittiness oozing from the screen. It's a dirty Star Wars movie and Edwards is sensational.
Every Star Wars film has iconic moments, whether good or bad. Even the prequels do. I know I quote Anakin's sand speech more than I quote anything Luke says in the original trilogy. Okay, maybe that's a joke, but still. Rogue One is full of crowd pleasing moments and fan throwbacks that will ultimately make their way into the Star Wars hall of fame, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if this film's entire third act made it into this imaginary but totally real hall of fame. The third act of Rogue One is the most exciting, suspenseful, shocking and wholeheartedly satisfying 45 minutes of 2016. It wraps the film up perfectly, while also setting up A New Hope. The film's story comes to a close in its own right, yet it's ending plants the seeds for the original trilogy to grow from, and I've never reacted quite as strongly to anything compared to how I reacted to this film's final 5 minutes. My smile has never been so huge.
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