Gareth Edwards captures the feeling of Star Wars in a movie whose genre far far removed from the franchise.
Rogue One tells the story of Jyn Erso, the daughter of a family influential to the creation of the Death Star. Many years after our first introduction to her Jyn is used by the Rebel alliance and it’s from here that she learns of her connection to the Death Star plans, the might of what those plans can do and why she, along with her band of fellow rebels, has to stop it.
The story starts very quickly, introducing Jyn, her family and her initial motivations in very quick succession. In fact it’s a little too quick, as many of the motivations of early characters get lost or misunderstood. But as the story moves on it’s key focal moments become much clearer and by the middle of the second act many audience members will be rooting for the hero’s of the piece.
Visually the film is one of the most striking things put to screen in 2016. It is utterly gorgeous. Star Wars movies are known to be bursting with all sorts of life and characters and oddities, creating a sense of something alien in a way that only Star Wars movies can. But this film manages to recreate that world with a much more desolate set of scenes. The opening sequence is a perfect example of this: An alien planet with no living creatures or agriculture save from one family in a muddy home. The entire scene Is shot with three main colours on the palette and it uses them perfectly. This scene sets the tone for the entire movie. This is Star Wars but it’s darker, grimier and more grounded than you’ve ever seen.
The score for the film is similar to that of the visuals. It’s new and different, but it feels right. It’s interesting to note that this is the first score for a Star Wars movie which has not been touched by John Williams. Instead Micheal Giacchino is the person responsible for this score and it is fantastic. It emulates Williams enough to evoke everyone’s child hood memories of Star Wars sounds. But it also takes risks with Williams trademark sounds and does so to fit the more mature tone of the film. An educated ear will be able to tell the difference but even then will respect the intentions of Giacchino’s score.
The biggest issue the movie faces is in it’s pacing, the beginning of the story happens far too quickly and the movie keeps up this fast pace. So the films initial hooks are left a little flat. It could be argued that the movie is hoping for the audience’s prior knowledge of the franchise to do some work here, but none the less, there’s a first act that requires slightly more screen time than Rogue One is able to give it.
However, what it does manage to do is take the Star Wars franchise and turn it in to a fantastic Sci-Fi war movie. It’s utterly gorgeous to watch and listen to despite it being not quite perfect in telling a story. Gareth Edwards deserves a huge amount of credit for stepping in to such lofty unfilled shoes and doing a very good job.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story scored: 8.7/10