Thursday, December 15, 2016


It feels kind of pointless to give a synopsis for this film given the fact that anyone even half conscious about cinema knows this film is coming out, but, for the sake of it, lets give it a go.

Rogue One is the first film in the new anthology series of Star Wars films, which follow separate stories from the main saga films, which focus on the classic characters. Here the premise is simple, we follow the Rebellion as it comes to know more about the Death Star and how they came to steal the plans which kick off the start of A New Hope.

Now, as someone that had many problems with Episode VII and as someone that really despised some choices made by Abrams and his team, I had almost given up on the Star Wars stories as I knew them. Well, Gareth Edwards and Lucasfilm have turned the ship here for me. This film does right everything that Episode VII got wrong, it adds to the mythology of the universe, it brings to life a story in a intriguing and absorbing way and brings to life the Star Wars Galaxy in the perfect manner.

What starts out as a slow paced piece keeps building and building throughout the whole film and culminates in one of, if not the, best third acts I have seen in recent times. The flow of this film, its pace, the way it moves from one place to the other and converges in the end is breathtaking. You are carried away on an adrenaline ride and don't want it to end.

Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy definitely manage to evolve the concept of the stealing of the plans of the Death Star into a fully fledged narrative film and they also manage to, I never believe I would have said this in my life, enrich the original trilogy with impressive world building and attention to minute details that are added and that give the story an incredible resonance in the mythology. The characters involved are all welcome additions to the canon and some of the dynamics established between them really hit home. Jyn Erso's evolution is relatable and it is surrounded by a cast of unique supporting characters who all add both to the emotional dynamic of the film and to the Star Wars universe.

The places we are brought to also have some beautiful design to them as we visit new planets that all have something to add to what we've already seen. The visual effects keep pushing boundaries and the way in which practical creatures are seamlessly integrated with the CGI elements, which remain unnoticeable, is the best you could ask for. The design of new, unseen elements of the universe is beautiful and fits the tone perfectly.

Yet, what ultimately made this experience an edge-of-your-seat ride, is just how flawlessly put together the action scenes are, how brilliantly they complement the rest of the film, how perfectly they drive the story forward, the stunning editing that brings them together, everything about these scenes is excellence and brilliance in filmmaking and to see a new Star Wars battle brought to life in such a way was something I never would have imagined. There are moments in this film that you will not believe they actually brought to life. Darth Vader has probably the most amazing of them all. This third act is simply the best of the best you could ever wish for in action cinema and the reason it works so well is just how fascinatingly it is built up in the first two acts. You arrive at it at the perfect time, with the perfect set up and once it starts rolling, moment after moment I was holding my breath in disbelief, there are set pieces that had me gagging with joy and adrenaline. I was exuberant at the sight of some sequences that were built in a way I could not have ever imagined. This film works so well, it flows so beautifully, the characters all have an arc and their moment to shine and the catharsis you feel when these moments hit is deeply moving.

As much as I loved and enjoyed the experience with the film there are some flaws to be pointed out. Nothing capital, in the sense that the story, the characters, and the film just blow you away and work seamlessly throughout the whole film. The flaws are all just little inconsistencies that made the film occasionally lose a bit of steam (only to regain it minutes later). Firstly, Saw Gerrera is a terrible character, played really off beat by Whitaker and he is the only person in the film that doesn't belong here. The film could have done with a 10 minute trimming around the edges, there are a couple of short moments that really don't need to be there and would have tightened the already dramatically arresting pace even more. Finally, I have to admit that Michael Giacchino had a gargantuan job in scoring the film and it shows, he does stumble multiple times and whilst a couple of new good themes emerge he does not manage to bring the old ones in an organic way.

Saving other minor nerd details that don't belong in this review, Rogue One is a triumph of blockbuster action cinema. It's a breathtaking experience, with one of the most effective climaxes I have ever seen and a relentless pace that swept me up in a galaxy far, far away and reminded me of how great it is to be carried away by Star Wars when it is done right and how adventurous and touching its stories can be.

James' Score: 8/10

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