By Darlene Donloe
Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, as a moviegoer, you’re in for a treat with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the latest entry to the Star Wars anthology series, which, having debuted in 1977, is coming up on its 40th anniversary.
Opening nationwide today, Rogue One is a stand-alone film that is a prequel to the beloved franchise.
The action, adventure, fantasy, science fiction, drama has everything true Star Wars fans have come to love and expect. There’s plenty of action, intrigue, heroism and adventure topped off with a love story. There are rich, new characters strategically carving out exciting new stories. And, without giving anything away - it has the best ending of any Star Wars movie.
The film, which focuses on the Rebel Alliance, is set in the lead-up to George Lucas’ original Star Wars.
This time around a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire's ultimate weapon of destruction. Fans will recall that the plans are actually the ones Princess Leia receives at the beginning of A New Hope.
Felicity Jones, who plays Jyn Erso, is the heroine in this film and leads the others. Although she is not a member of the Alliance, she is just as focused and determined. We first meet her as a child who, unfortunately, witnesses a horrible crime. Fast forward and Erso is all grown up
and an an apparent criminal. She is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a heady scientist who was coerced to work on the Death Star.
Joining in the festivities is Diego Luna, who plays a rebel operative called Cassian Andor. He has a great partner in crime, his droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), who nearly steals this movie. In fact, all of the characters, at some point, nearly steal the film.
Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Jyn Erso picks up willing cohorts along the way. There is Saw Gerrara, an anti-Empire warrior portrayed by Forest Whitaker. There is Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) who is an ex-Imperial pilot, plus Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang). This motley crew has heart and put their soul into their mission to save the galaxy. There’s not a Jedi in the bunch, but, surprisingly, it works!
Director Gareth Edwards has assembled a well-oiled cast that gels and has amazing chemistry.
A slight disappoint about the film is the lack of the traditional opening crawl. Oh, the humanity! But, there is the expected: “In a Galaxy Far Far Away…”. Yay!
The best part of the film is its diversity. Inclusion in this film is huge and will, hopefully, set a precedent.
There’s so much more I want to write about the film, but to do so would, most assuredly, reveal some spoilers.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is directed by Gareth Edwards, written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Walt Disney Pictures/LucasFilm) is RATED PG-13 (for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action); Running time: 2h 13m
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story gets an E (excellent).