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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2016 * * * Stars

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirector: Gareth Edwards
Year: 2016
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and Forest Whitaker (his impression is all too brief) are well cast in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (my latest review). And in traditional trending, a side character just had to quip, "I am one with The Force The Force is with me". Thankfully, The Force for the most part, is with "Rogue One".

After a decade-long wait, director J. J. Abrams was given the keys to the highly successful, Star Wars franchise. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he got away from the kid-friendly, CGI overload of the George Lucas prequels. He instead tried to create something that resembled the original trilogy (episodes IV and V come to mind). I was not overly impressed. Yeah Harrison Ford came along for "VII's" long anticipated ride. Yeah Mark Hamill made a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance. And yes, there was the obligatory lightsaber fight between good and evil. Here's the thing though: "Rogue One" has none of this and still manages to be more epic, more monumental, and more visually striking than "Force Awakens". It's the kind of Star Wars catacomb that "Force Awakens" wished it could have been. Truth be told, I was hoping "Rogue One" would've came out sooner than later.

Image result for rogue one a star wars story 2016 movie scenes
Anyway, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not only a film tailored for 3D viewing pleasure, it is also a decent segue into Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope. Just call "Rogue One" episode 3 and a half. Remember in "Hope" when Princess Leia appeared with a secret message via a hologram? That's because the characters in "Rogue One" (Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor) were part of the Alliance and gave her viable plans to destroy the almighty Death Star. Carrie Fisher is even shown by way of computer enhancement as if it was 1977 all over again (I think it was Carrie Fisher). The image is a little creepy but it'll do. Oh and did I mention that they brought back the deceased Peter Cushing in glorified CGI fashion as well. Interesting and startling are the words I'd use.

Now "Rogue One" does contain an overly pouncing, sort of ho-hum musical score (by veteran composer Michael Giacchino who lacks that John Williams touch). And yes, it does omit the famous, serial opening titles. Still, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story manages to crack my top three in the Star Wars rankings (it's tied with 1983's Return of the Jedi). With "Rogue's" title referring to a military call sign, this is a more mature installment, a more down-and-dirty installment, and it is as dark as they come. The look is less pristine, like sci-fi Ridley Scott. The costume design is Alien mixed with 2013's Snowpiercer. Finally, "Rogue One's" concluding battle sequence is Southwest Asia, Apocalypse Now chic. There's palm trees, explosions aplenty, and epicness in scope. By the way, look for the anticipated Darth Vader appearance that everyone's been talking about (spoiler). Don't worry, James Earl Jones still does the voice mind you.

Image result for rogue one a star wars story 2016 movie scenesThe director of "Rogue One" is Gareth Edwards. This is a step up from his monstrously bland, remake of Godzilla. His camera has a keen eye as he includes every stormtrooper, every intergalactic world, and every Rebellion vs. Imperial dogfight in every singular frame. Overall, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is sumptuous, gritty, unwashed, and beautiful. It's like cinematic, Empire perfume for it truly stinks pretty. Granted, this isn't a Star Wars endeavor that will bring out the kid in you. This is more attuned to the adult or young adult for that matter. Bottom line: Don't go "rogue" and avoid the local multiplex. See this possible, future classic right away. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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