It looks like the ‘Star Wars’ train isn’t slowing down yet. With the success of ‘The Force Awakens’ came the dawn of a new addition to the lore of the most popular film franchise in cinema history. We now have ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’; a prequel to the original trilogy, yet a sequel to the prequel trilogy that works as a stand-alone feature. (If you are confused, the franchise’s order is jumbled. Damn it, George Lucas!) The one problem I faced this year leading up to the release of this new addition is how it basically seems like a way for Lucasfilm LTD to not only compete with the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC, but also try to bank on the popularity of this ever-expanding franchise. With brilliant cinematography, answered questions, and direction by Gareth Edwards, those thoughts can just lay to rest.
Will ‘Rogue One’ gain nominations in the Oscar department? Definitely not for ‘Best Picture’, but I can see it gaining nods for ‘Sound Design’ and ‘Mixing’, ‘Cinematography’, and ‘Visual Effects’ for the effort taken by an amazing and caring crew to bring back the feel of the original trilogy. At times, the lens of the camera look as if someone tried to wipe unseen dirt off of them. However, when we see the amazing planets added to the ‘Star Wars’ universe, we also see beauty in the production design. (another possible nomination for this film.) A beach planet serving as the main climax for our heroes to take on the villains, resulting in a war made me feel as if I was on a vacation to an actual beach in the summer myself, sipping a Corona while watching the beautiful baby blue sky.
‘Rogue One’ also introduces us to new characters (and potential action figures to add for merchandising) as we see another powerful heroine in the form of Jyn Erso (Oscar-Nominee for ‘The Theory of Everything’ – Felicity Jones), a focused woman who watched the death of her mother Lyra (Valene Kane), and kidnapping of her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) at the hands of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), as a child. She has to team up with five other people including: Cassian Endor (Diego Luna), the leader of the Alliance; K-2SO (Voice of Alan Tudyk), his robot co-pilot who serves as the comic relief when compared to C-3PO; Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind bad-ass that goes by the mantra: “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me”; Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a former co-pilot that was kidnapped and imprisoned in the planet Jedha (Where I believe Jedi come from.); and the gun-toting Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen); in order to pursue Galen and retrieve the plans to a super weapon known as the Death Star. Forrest Whitaker is also in this film as the robot-legged Saw Gerrera, who became a guardian to Jyn; his character, however, was not the greatest character in the universe to have been created. His voice kind of made me cringe.
What ‘Star Wars’ fans can appreciate about ‘Rogue One’ is not just the many slew of characters we can all love and appreciate, but the many bits from the ‘Star Wars’ franchise. There are a couple of cameos here and there, but one made me question why it was there. The others, however, just serve a purpose; and that is a good thing. I won’t talk about the cameos, but I will bring up Darth Vader (Golden voice of James Earl Jones, still in tact – Also not really a spoiler since his appearances were in the trailers). He is only in this film for a few scenes, but when we see him, it still feels as though he came out of ‘Episode III’, he stayed the same bad-ass villain we all know and love. Other than that, I am genuinely surprised as well as amazed at the way ‘Rogue One’ turned out. Only bad news? I have to wait until next December for ‘Episode VIII’ as well as the year after for that ‘Young Han Solo’ movie.