BY RYAN MACKETT
IT’S a great time to be a Star Wars fan! Last December’s Episode VII The Force Awakens was the start of Disney’s release cycle that will see a new movie hit theatres each December for the next several years, alternating between the main saga films and Star Wars story standalone spinoff films. Next December will see the release of Episode VIII; a young Han Solo movie will release the following December, and then the year after that, Episode IX.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first spin-off film, and believe me when I tell you that the filmmakers have succeeded in creating a story that’s perfectly balanced between being its own movie while still feeling like a Star Wars film.
The original Star Wars from 1977 (Episode IV- A New Hope) begins with a Rebel ship fleeing a Star Destroyer as Princess Leia hides the plans to the Death Star in R2-D2. Rogue One tells the story of how those plans came into the possession of the Rebel Alliance.
Rogue One is populated by a whole crew of new characters, played by the likes of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed and Mads Mikkelsen.
The movie accomplishes in film form what the novels, comics and video games have been doing for decades. That is, telling unique stories within the Star Wars Universe that exist beyond the story of the main Episodic Saga. Think of it this way: thus far, Star Wars Episodes I - VII has essentially been the Skywalker Family Drama. Rouge One is an “in-between-quel” of sorts, as it takes place chronologically between Episodes III and IV.
I absolutely loved the movie. It wasn’t my favourite Star Wars film, but that is one of the reasons why I loved it so much. It never tried to be a main Saga story. It told a very specific story and stands alone perfectly as a spin-off film.
The cinematography, especially the opening sequence, really impressed me. The special effects were also unreal. There are a few “performances” in the film that showcase near-perfect photorealistic character animation. Truly astounding work.
The film does employ some pretty heavy-handed fan service. I personally enjoyed these moments as a die-hard Star Wars fanatic, but I can see how some may find those moments to be worthy of criticism. Also, I feel as though to properly enjoy this film to its fullest audiences should have a pretty good knowledge of the Star Wars mythos.
This was easily the most satisfying movie-going experience of mine in 2016. Highly recommended.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.