Saturday, 17 December 2016

#84 & 86 ROGUE ONE

Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy based on a story by John Knoll and gary Whitta. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Budget $200 million. Running time 133 minutes. 12a Cert.

Featuring the single worst poster ever produced for the Star Wars franchise comes Rogue One, the first stand-alone movie in this all-new, George Lucas-free era of Star Wars movies. This acts as a prequel to A New Hope (or Star Wars I: A New Hope if you'd prefer, or if you're a Star Wars hardcore fan Star Wars IV: A New Hope). So, as a result it takes place after Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars III Which sort of makes this one either Star Wars IV, or Star Wars XIII or Star Wars IIIa. Or if, like me, you dislike the prequels and don't watch them, then Star Wars -I. Look, either way it's a Star Wars movie, so you should know what to expect, action, space ships, laser blasters, storm troopers, wonky-faced aliens, bizarre hints of incest and the Force.  

It sees a band of rebels lead by permanently frowning, and on the verge of tears, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star, team up with pocket-sized Spaniard, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his hilarious battle droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) together they battle against incredible odds to steal the plans of the Empire's terrifying new weapon the Death Star. What follows is a dizzying, whistle-stop tour of 10,000 stupidly named planets as our wise-cracking, rag-tag team of loveable rogues including Kung Fu master Donnie Yen bounce around the galaxy in a mad-cap race to the finish line on a tropical planet while Ben Mendelsohn as the universe's worst project manager, Orson Krennic, does his best Dick Dastardly and waggles his gauntlet enclosed fist and tries but fails to thwart them.

It would be churlish of me to reveal much more but if you've ever watched Star Wars No.1: A New Hope you'll already know that "many Bothans died to bring us this information."

This starts slowly and the first third isn't all that, but then once everyone's been brought together it kicks it up a gear and starts to become something we've never seen in a Star Wars movie before, a war film because once we've seen the Death Star do what it does it's a barrage of relentless, non-stop action. This film doesn't pause for anything, like wit or well-written dialogue and just lets rip. And in the letting rip league this film is certainly up there near the top. It's a blistering action-packed movie that looks simply stunning. It's extremely well directed by Gareth Edwards, the visual genius behind Godzilla, and the cinematography is superb. The effects are seamless and overall this was an exhilarating rambunctious romp that didn't move me more deeply than that. It's surprisingly grim and ultimately is a science fiction remake of Saving Private Ryan, but with more wonky-faced aliens and space ships.

It's not all positives, mind. The soundtrack was very jarring, slight hints of John Williams followed by something different.

It's Star Wars Jim, but not as we've known it before.


P.S. The following contains spoilers

This film is filled with wonderful nods and Easter Eggs to Star Wars, like the two 'My friend Doesn't like you' aliens and the exact same firing sequence of the Death Star main weapon as well as dozens of other visual nods including the CGI recreation of two rather iconic characters one of whom is a representation of Peter Cushing which sadly falls into the uncanny valley for me. There's also cameos from many,  much-loved, characters and then there's the return of a certain rather iconic asthmatic and boy he doesn't disappoint, indeed he's simply terrifying.


Perhaps I should have waited longer before rewatching this but second time round, this gets a 7/10. It starts off very clumsily with far too many planets with stupid names visited but with no involvement, none of the planets seem that important and dont' add anything to the plot. The film really kicks off when we get to the planet with the besieged religious city and the final act attack on that beach planet are awesome. Great special effects and action, plus the cgi Peter Cushing is freakin' amazing.

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