I’ll be honest, I chickened out of reviewing The Force Awakens last year. As a huge Star Wars fan, I felt that I could not write a balanced and fair review. After the prequels, I had many concerns, but after coming out the cinema I felt relief – “wow, that… that… was pretty good!” I thought to myself.

posterI approached Star Wars Rogue One with the same amount of trepidation. After all, the last time we were presented with a Star Wars prequel, the reaction was more than mixed to say the least.

Having said that, the team behind Rogue One haven’t carried the same baggage that George Lucas did when he decided to make the prequels. There’s no loose ends to tie up to the main story, no major characters that must survive and die in order for it all to make sense. So as a result, there is no expectation from the audience.

And with the hiring of Gareth Edwards as director, a relatively new film maker who clearly understands how to handle films with an epic scope and scale, Rogue One is off to a pretty strong start.

Focusing on the story of the characters behind the production of the Death Star, screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, do a solid job in introducing the audience to new faces, while placing the familiar ones to one side. Sure we get to see the likes of a few fan favourites (I’m not saying who), but the likes of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) take centre stage here and the story is all the stronger for it.

Felicity Jones is on fighting form here as the lost rebel without a cause, recruited by the Rebel Alliance to work with Cassian Andor in an effort to steal the design schematics of the Death Star. If you’ve seen Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, you’ll know the ultimate outcome – however, Gareth Edwards and the team at Lucasfilm pack the film full of surprises and breathless set pieces, so the pacing never lets up. It’s thrilling pretty much from start to finish.

One complaint is that some of the characters feel a little under-developed, some I can’t even remember their names. Having said that, when you’re cramming this much into a 133 minutes, sacrifices have to be made I guess. The production team don’t have the luxury of developing their stories over the course of several films here, so I’ll cut them some slack here.

Felicity Jones puts in a defiant performance as Jyn Erso, arguably the only character to have an arc in the story. She goes from a fugitive who doesn’t care for either the Rebel Alliance or Empire, to a fighter and rebellion ringleader.

Diego Luna does a good job playing Cassian Andor, a conflicted but loyal soldier to the Rebellion and Alan Tudyk is fantastic as K-2SO, a former Imperial droid re-programmed to work with the Rebels. His snarky comments bring much of the comic relief and are clearly written in a complete contrast to the over the top nature of C-3PO.

Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic

Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Copyright: Lucasfilm

It’s also great to see Ben Mendelsohn chewing up the scenery playing the main villain of the piece, Orson Krennic, with some of his moments showing the politics and power struggles going on behind the scenes within the Empire.

Visually, the film is a treat, with set pieces and locations bringing a nice variety to the tone of the movie. It’s also great to see a tropical location being used for the first time (at least to my knowledge) in the Star Wars universe – I guess it makes me happy to know that palm trees existed a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Michael Giachino picks up the musical duties, and while never quite achieving the same greatness as John Williams, his score does a good job in emulating the heart of Star Wars.

Much like The Force Awakens, there are also various nods to the original films, which many fans will enjoy picking up. It’s also nice to see Lucasfilm bringing several references to the prequels and the Clone Wars series into fold. Despite the prequels being much derided, one of the problems I felt with them was that they just didn’t quite gel together with the original trilogy that well, and I feel that Rogue One makes an effort to correct that.

When George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and all it’s property to Disney, many people were concerned about the future of Star Wars. But after The Force Awakens and now Rogue One, it’s clear now that Star Wars is in good hands.

Lucasfilm is now more than just one man. It’s clear here that there was a team effort, working together, behind Rogue One, much like there was in The Force Awakens. And I’ve always said that the problem with the prequels was that it was quite likely that everybody working on them was afraid to tell George Lucas that something might be a stupid (I’m looking at you midichlorians), or annoying to the audience (I’m looking at you Jar Jar Binks).

Personally, I can’t wait to watch Rogue One again. In fact I can’t wait to see more Star Wars films on the whole! Long may they continue!

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
An exhilarating ride within the Star Wars universe from start to finish.
The Lightside
  • Nicely paced
  • Great set pieces
  • K-2SO
The Darkside
  • Some characters could do with more development
4.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (4 Votes)

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.