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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie review: return of the blue milk

Disney is pushing full force with their Star Wars movies. Not only have they started a brand new trilogy with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but they’re intent on filling in ‘gaps’ within the saga. Rogue One is the first of these filler movies, but is it a necessity for fans and non-fans alike?

The movie takes place after Revenge of the Sith and just before A New Hope. It details the struggle for the Rebel Alliance in securing the plans for the first Death Star. Remember how that was only mentioned in the fourth movie (A New Hope)? Well, Disney decided to make an entire film around it. It’s not a bad idea per se, but feels like the company is stretching out the franchise.

Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), the protagonist of Rogue One, loses her mother and her father (Mads Mikkelsen) and is captured by The Empire as a child. Many years later, and after a sequence of events that are typical of a Star Wars storyline, she is tasked with securing the plans for the Death Star. Along the way, she is helped by the film’s secondary protagonist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who is supposed to be an ambiguous hero, as well as his re-programmed Imperial droid, K-2SO, and a host of others. It’s pretty much a ragtag bunch that’s typical of the Rebels in the franchise.

Rogue One isn’t without its issues, but fans will definitely want to see it

What the movie does well is show the audience an almost lower-deck view of the Star Wars universe, as well as its (non-Sith) darker side. The Rebel Alliance isn’t all shiny and gold with the strongest moral ethics and at times you may question if they’re as bad as The Empire. Sure, you’re treated to an array of primary and important characters throughout the film, but the central ones aren’t anything great or destined to be chosen ones. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air after having to watch seven movies about Luke and his screwed-up family.

The Imperial droid, who is primarily referred to as K-2, is the only comic relief throughout this darker Star Wars tale. His comedic beats are spot on and there’s never a moment when you won’t at least chuckle at something he says. He is easily one of the best characters, but the same cannot be said for the protagonists and antagonists.

Both Jyn and Cassian are decent characters in their own right, rising up to a near-impossible challenge. The problem comes with the emotional moments and their own acting, especially towards the end. Rogue One could have been shorter without some of their motivations and apparent character growth, but at the same time, it could have been longer to at least explain some of these emotions and to further expand on the story. It’s not a tight tale, with a script that still requires more polish.

Easily one of the weakest actors in the movie is, unfortunately, Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera. The character was vastly over-acted, which isn’t up to Whitaker’s standards. At least the likes of Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen are there to distract you from the movie’s lower points.

Star Wars fanatics will also enjoy the slew of references strewn about Rogue One

As mentioned earlier, there are a slew of characters from the Star Wars universe that make an appearance. If there was a sing-along, Rogue One could be the newest Star Wars Christmas Special with the number of cameos. Disney is so intent in throwing all of these in, that they won’t even let Peter Cushing die in peace, Frankensteining him in a full CGI render (50 points to me for slipping in that reference).

Besides main characters, there are an incredible amount of other nods to the rest of the franchise (spot the blue milk) that only adds to the fact that Rogue One feels as though it’s made by fans, for fans.

And that brings us to the special effects. Rogue One is an absolutely gorgeous movies with an exceptional amount of unique and previously unvisited locations for your eyes to salivate over. From a dust planet to a raining planet to a tropical one. Okay, so maybe we have seen similar locations before, but it’s great that not everything happens on desert and ice worlds, right? All of the special effects are on par and really are sights to behold. The movie is gorgeous.

Verdict: Rogue One feels like a movie made by fans, for fans. It’s a step in the Star Wars saga that may not have been asked for, and isn’t necessary, but is a treat to behold. If you miss it this holiday season, it’ll be perfectly watchable on the small screen.

Score: 7.5/10

Author | Graham van der Made: Staff Reporter

Graham van der Made: Staff Reporter
Graham started out as an electronics manager at Take2 Home Entertainment and went on to spend a further ten years in the South African ecommerce industry. During this time, Graham founded and managed an online geek and hobby shop. He has always had a passion for writing and has... More