The first stand-alone (kind of) story that is not considered an official episode in the Star Wars canon but one that fits in between episodes III and IV, Rogue One is centered around Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Jyn is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a man who has tried to leave his life as a top weapons engineer for the Empire behind.
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Jimmy Smits, Ian McElhinney, Wen Jiang, and the motion capture talents of Alan Tudyk
DIRECTOR(S): Gareth Edwards
But once Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2SO (performed for motion capture by the versatile Alan Tudyk) come to rescue Jyn in hopes of finding her father first, all the players and their roles come into focus. For if Cassian and K-2SO can’t stop Galen, the Death Star may live up to its name in horrifying fashion … Especially if the Empire gets its way. But what they don’t know, however, is the fact that since a version of the Death Star already exists, the expression “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” is about to take on a whole new meaning in a battle for intergalactic supremacy …
SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Despite being a long at 2-hours plus epic, Rogue One delivers enough of what Star Wars fans enjoy to make this trip into a galaxy far, far away worthwhile in between episodes.
Rogue One doesn’t really do anything spectacularly well at all; instead, it stays the course by delivering justenough of what fans have come to enjoy to keep things moving in telling the story of how the Rebels were able to get the intelligence needed to later blow up its crowning achievement. Luna is capable enough at hitting his marks as is Jones in providing the Han Solo-like accompaniment to her young Skywalker-esque hero. (Don’t worry – there are no training montages as no Jedi-like training figure is to be found her for young Jyn’s journey.) Character-wise, the highlights are found no in our leads nor Mendelsohn’s rather paint-by-numbers villain but instead in the form of Wen Jiang and Donnie Yen. Whereas Jiang excels in playing the strong, dedicated gun toting soldier Baze Malbus, Yen brings out the strongest emotional connection to the audience as a blind, non-lightsaber toting Jedi* (*it’s never made clear if he truly is or not) who is certain to never forget that the force is with him even when things appear to be at their most bleak.
Throw in some homages to the previous films and cameos by some of the galaxy’s best-known and beloved characters and Rogue One lives up to its billing as a Star Wars story. It would just be a better story if it didn’t feel so familiar as you watch it. Whereas the ways in which our heroes cheat death and then formulate their plans will likely enthrall younger fans, they – just like the extended battle sequences – will feel like familiar territory to older, wiser viewers. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a “we’re sticking with what we know works so we’re not re-inventing the wheel or in this case, lightsaber” thing.
But it’s a thing that works well enough that it will keep fanboys from going rogue and blasting yet another Lucasfilm production on the Internet in a galaxy far, far closer than the one he created.