Once upon a time it seemed like the lush universe of Star Wars had come to an end. Yet in a galaxy far, far away, there’s an endless amount of story that’s too important not to explore. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story jumps right in, enhancing the classic story that started it all. Not only is this another great addition to the film franchise, it plants itself within it as if it was there from the beginning. True craftsmanship from a collective team of old school filmmakers and new filmmakers came together to create a film that stands alone, while simultaneously embracing the originals. As a casual Star Wars fan my expectations were met and slightly exceeded. This isn’t a universal appeal like the Force Awakens, which was released one year prior, but it will without a doubt quench the thirst of those who believe in the force and want a little bit more.
It’s hard to praise a film if it doesn’t have strong characters to back it up. While these aren’t the best to ever appear on screen, they at least deserve to be in the discussion. While all hope seemed lost they still managed to muster some up in the darkest hour. Led by Jyn Urso (Felicity Jones) these rebels dig deep down in their core to fight for what they believe no matter the cost. They all gain your respect because none of them are selfish. They know the chances of survival are slim, but they only care about the greater good. Their skill levels and abilities range from a blind martial arts warrior, Chirrut (Donnie Yen), to a reprogrammed droid that goes by K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). It’s hard to decide which is my favorite. Chirrut is impossible not to love. His confidence based off nothing is remarkable, and K-2SO is that sarcastic best friend who will never leave your side. We even got to see a cast from all colors of the rainbow, which made the overall experience with the group of troublemakers even better.
In addition to that, these studios keep pushing the envelope when it comes to the technology. As each film progresses the digital effects become increasingly seamless mixed in with the practical, though that’s a given nowadays. What’s most important is the story fitting in with what is known before. Having a non-traditional Star Wars opening, the first few moments started off a bit jarring, but shortly after you’re immersed in great shots that can only be dreamed of. It’s a story that can unfold itself from the visuals alone. Even if you disregard episode 4 entirely, there’s so much here that feeds into the next chapter, but it still branches off to the side towards a completely new world of adventures outside of the main arc. Scene by scene you can feel the universe expanding far out in all directions, and it’s an exciting feeling to have in the theater.
The cherry on top is the entire third act. While the first was a great introduction, and the second slowed down a little more than what I wanted, the third act cranks the action up in a love letter form that’s impossible not to leave you floored. It was a giant spectacle of superb action that catered to every form of galactic warfare. The battles were waged on the ground, in the sky, and in space. They will possibly be considered one of the best battles in Star Wars history. It wasn’t just soldiers running around in mindless violence. Every step and trigger pull was calculated to cause the biggest impact imaginable. The rebels took full control, knowing that billions of lives depended on theirs, and they used that motivation to fuel their veins. The choreography for it all was beyond beautiful, especially the beach scene that will take your breath away.
Unfortunately, every film isn’t perfect, and neither is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In all honesty, there isn’t much to complain about other than the second act losing a little of its boost from the first act. It was also a complete misfire with the score used throughout the film. The original Star Wars theme was absent and missed severely. Other than that, this is a fun ride that many would love to be a part of again. It’s truly fascinating what was done here. The amount of fan service sewn into certain scenes was a dream come true, with Darth Vader being the highlight. Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) had to follow a Star Wars film that was the highest grossing film of all time, while leading into a film that’s considered the best of all time. With that amount of pressure he succeeded beyond reason.