By Neil Hazel | Follow @IamNeilHazel
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first film in what Disney is calling the Star Wars Anthology series. A set of Star Wars that will not directly play into the Skywalker narrative of the episodic Star Wars films, but instead serve to expand the Star Wars universe. It is because of this that Rogue One director Gareth Edwards is put into a bit of a tricky spot. How does one make a Star Wars film that adds new content to the Star Wars story without screwing up the continuity? The answer is to set the film between episode III and episode IV, telling the story of how the rebel alliance ends up with the plans to the Empire’s planet destroying super weapon, the Death Star. While Rogue One certainly has enough Star Wars moments and info to expand the universe to fulfill the appetites of diehard Star Wars fans, it is by no means a spectacular
Rogue One centers on Jyn Erso, a prisoner of the Empire that is rescued and recruited by the Rebels to help them secure information that has leaked from the Empire about the new weapon they are constructing. Jyn finds her way into a ragtag crew as they travel from planet to planet, fighting the Empire as they search for the plans to the Death Star. While Jyn’s companions are colorful and interesting (a hacked Imperial drone voiced by Alan Tudyk and a blind, Force-sensitive monk played by Chinese mega star Donnie Yen are the standouts), they never really reach the likability of series favorites like Han Solo or Obi-Wan. Perhaps this was intentional, as these characters are the unsung heroes of the Star Wars saga, but it ends up making Rogue One feel like it’s lacking a certain amount of emotional gravity.
Rogue One does a great job of producing some of the biggest action scenes to date in the Star Wars franchise. Galactic dogfights featuring hundreds of X-wings and TIE-fighters, shootouts with Stormtroopers in an exciting variety of planetary backdrops, and well-choreographed hand-to-hand combat, coupled with spectacular special effects make Rogue One an interesting and fun film to watch.
What will excite fans the most about Rogue One are all of the connections made to the rest of the Star Wars Universe. While I won’t spoil anything major, feel free to jump to the last paragraph if you want to go in completely blind. Several characters from the original trilogy have roles in Rogue One, and it’s great to see how some of these characters end up where they are during Episode IV. One of the biggest plot holes in the Star Wars series, the secret weak spot hidden within the Death Star, is given a reasonable and worthy explanation. The film itself sits perfectly between episodes III and IV filling in the gaps and leading right up to the start of A New Hope. The highlight of Rogue One however, is the return of Darth Vader. While he is only on screen for a few minutes, they are arguable the best scenes in the movie and are sure to give every Star Wars fan chills.
If last year’s The Force Awakens was a film made to introduce a new generation to Star Wars, Rogue One is a film made to satisfy the fans that have been around since the beginning. While it does have it’s flaws, most notably some cheesy dialogue and a lack of emotion, Star Wars fans will absolutely adore Rogue One. Gareth Edwards does a serviceable job of adding to the Star Wars universe without ruining the franchise, and if Disney manages to put out Anthology films that are as good as Rogue One every other year then Star Wars fans will be happy for many years to come.