ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

 

For near forty years we have contemplated and even seen small glimpses of Darth Vader as a bad ass. In 1977s "Star Wars: A New Hope" we saw him defeat Obi Wan Kenobi in a light saber duel to the death that was, back then, exciting, but actually only showed that he could beat an old man. In "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" we saw him chop off his sons hand in a light saber fight, encase Han Solo in carbonite, and torture Chewbacca with loud sounds.

 

In "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi", he has another saber fight and ultimately gets killed. "Star Wars 1-3" showed us how he went from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader a Sith Lord empowered with the Dark Side of the Force. It included a couple of random fights but nothing memorable. We did learn how he lost body parts and gained a respirator. But none of the first episodes showed us why the entire galaxy feared him; why he was the Emperor's right hand Sith Lord. For all we knew, he merely had a good publicist!

 

Disney and Lucas Film clear whatever doubts you may have had with what they call a stand-alone story of Star Wars, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story". To be sure, there will be no Rogue 3, 4, 5 or 6. If you faintly remember "Star Wars: A New Hope", you actually already know the outcome, you just need to know the journey.

In "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones", we first get a glimpse of the Death Star when the plans are delivered to Count Dooku. Sometime between then and "Star Wars: A New Hope: the rebels get their hands on the plans so they can find a weakness and blow it up. There have been several hypothetical stories about how the rebels got the info. Disney settled on the one written by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, Knoll worked on episodes 4 and 6, so was intimately familiar with the progression of the saga.

 

Gareth Edwards won the job as director; his previous experience was with the 2014 version of "Godzilla", but his biggest criteria was simple: he's a "Star Wars" fan. That's important because he understands the importance of getting things right and attention to detail. "Star Wars" fans are some of the most detail oriented people you'll ever know! To that end, they will notice that even the musical intro is totally different from John Williams dynamic intro. Michael Giacchino ("Star Trek", "Dr Strange", "Zootopia") inked the soundtrack that skirts the Star Wars theme, but is distinctive enough to stand alone.

 

The premise has Galen Erson (Mads Mikkelsen) as the Death Star scientist and engineer who once worked for the Empire. He broke free from them and lived in hiding until Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) finds him and takes him back to finish the Death Star; after killing his wife of course. Erson's young daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) escapes capture and execution with the help of a rebel geezer named Saw (Forest Whitaker).

She bounces around from planet to planet until she meets up with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who is a rebel officer who has suffered greatly at the hands of the Empire. Together, they develop a plane to infiltrate a highly secure Imperial base to steal the plans and get them to the rebellion leaders who doubt their chances.

 

That is the extent of what you need to know. You already should have an idea about the journey's end if you remember "Star Wars: A New Hope".

 

There are a few new characters you meet such as Jyn and Cassian. There is also a new droid named K-2S0 (voiced by Alan Tudyk) who as a humorous unfiltered wit but more aggressive than C3PO. There is Chirrut ╬mwe (Donnie Yen), a blind master with a side kick Baz Malbus (Wen Jiang) who together kick some serious butt as the force is strong with them.

 

There is also a return of some previous characters like Jimmy Smits Bail Organa and Admiral Raddus (voiced by Paul Kasey). Edwards also brings back a couple of old characters from "Star Wars: A New Hope: using the power of digital imaging; one works very well, the other not so well - but effective.

 

Story writers will complain that the characters weren't developed enough. And that might be true, but the truth is, so what. This entire film is to highlight one thing: Why

Darth Vader is the ultimate bad ass in a galaxy far, far away! And we get one devastating scene at the end that illustrates just that. Far too brief, but still great, I personally would have liked a wee bit more.

 

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is a tremendous fill-in for the Star Wars saga. Fans get what they've been waiting 39-years for: The answer as to why Darth Vader is such a bad ass!   -- GEOFF BURTON

 

GEOFF BURTON

 

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