Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed
Age Restriction: 10–12PG V
Runtime: 2hrs 14min
Release date: 15 December 2016
Disney has vowed to deliver a Star Wars film each year, and so far the studio is keeping to that promise with the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The Mouse House plans on releasing a film from the main saga every two years, with spin-off movies filling the slots in-between the two-year gaps.
Rogue One is the first spin-off of the series, set before the events of Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope. The film follows a group of rebels who venture on a dangerous mission to steal the plans for the Death Star – the villainous Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction.
Oscar-nominated actress, Felicity Jones leads the cast as Jyn Erso – a prisoner who is vital to this mission. Why? Because her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), is behind the creation of the Death Star.
Joining Jyn on the mission is Rebel Alliance Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), Îmwe's companion Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and the snide-comment droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).
While we're used to seeing flying ships blasting each other in space, director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) turns our attention to the war on the ground, and brings plenty of innovation to the table.
The action sequences are unlike anything we've ever encountered in a Star Wars movie before. There are no powerful Jedi or ingenious weapons to combat the forces of evil; there are only outnumbered individuals who use smart tactics to cause quite a stir – and Edwards does an impressive job at showcasing this. In other words, the action sequences are smart and well-calculated.
The battle scenes focus more from the perspective of the powerless rebels, with scenes showing them in many precarious situations (which I won't spoil).
The fight choreography is unique, particularly Yen's martial arts expert Îmwe – who merely uses a wooden stick to battle.
Then we have the bold special effects: the risks actually pay off resulting in spectacular, eye-popping imagery that (dare I say it) is superior to The Force Awakens.
Even the striking set-designs and cinematography are refreshing, featuring locations that will absolutely take your breath away.
On a technical level, Rogue One is essentially a Star Wars film with lots of originality; however, the same cannot be said for its narrative.
While the film at times feels rather distant from any other Star Wars chapter, Rogue One unfortunately suffers from what we call 'prequelitis' – when you're well-aware of where the story is heading because the follow-up movie came before it.
Easily one of the film's biggest flaws, Rogue One is a rather predictable adventure despite the available potential for Edwards to try something fresh.
There's no doubt that Rogue One needed to end in that predictable way, in order to tie it into A New Hope. But that doesn't mean that the entire film should be riddled with clichés.
Edwards throws this opportunity out of the window, as there's nothing unexpected or fresh within the film's two-hour plus runtime.
Despite this, Edwards still manages to deliver a highly-entertaining plot that will keep you engaged.
Like The Force Awakens, Rogue One has a female lead that audiences are going to love, and Jones brings the character to life impressively.
Jyn is self-sufficient, strong-willed, relatable, and can easily defend herself from enemies. Plus, the film's script does the character justice.
However, Rogue One is so focused on everything else that it doesn't take the time to explore its underdeveloped supporting characters, including an unmemorable villain, Orson Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn.
It was relatively hard to decipher Krennic's motivations as the character was under-utilised and lacked sufficient screen time.
Besides Jones' impressive performance, Yen also makes a good impression as Chirrut Îmwe. However, the standout performance ultimately belongs to Alan Tudyk as the outspoken droid, K-2SO – and the film's comic relief.
Despite its 'prequelitis' narrative and underdeveloped characters; Rogue One: A Star Wars Story features action-sequences, special effects and set designs rarely seen in a Star Wars film – and has enough entertainment value to recommend.