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article imageReview: ‘Rogue One’ adds to the franchise as a standalone powerhouse Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Dec 18, 2016 in Entertainment
‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ is an exceptional addition to the canon as it boasts an incredible cast, an even better story and widespread dedication to get it right while also distinguishing the film from all those that came before it.
Disney’s acquirement of Lucasfilm has put the studio on track for at least one film per year for the foreseeable future. They then made a promising statement with the acclaimed release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which met and in some ways even exceeded fans’ expectations. The film’s multi-faceted success created an aura of hope for future installments and a lot of curiosity around the previously announced standalone movies. The second picture to hit theatres from the new era is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which exists in the same universe but isn’t beholden to all that came before it.
Jyn Erso’s (Felicity Jones) father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), was an Empire scientist who escaped to avoid having to complete the weapon of destruction they demanded. After years of searching the galaxy, they find and retrieve Galen so they can force him to complete his work – but Jyn gets away and is raised by their trusted ally, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Ten years later, the Death Star is complete and the rebellion is at its mercy… unless Jyn and her cohorts can finish what her father started by stealing the plans that will reveal the planet killer’s weakness and give them at least a chance at survival.
There’s something very satisfying about watching a story unfold in a universe you know, but have it be fresh and unexpected. As nothing was ever known about the mission that would lead to rebel victory in A New Hope — except that Rebel spies stole the secret plans during their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire — this film’s creators sort of had carte blanche when deciding on its direction and personalities. While Darth Vader and a few other classic characters appear, the focus is placed mostly on the new faces and stories they’ve been provided the opportunity to share and they don’t squander it. The film is rich in compelling characters, new worlds and early alliance politics. Not limited to alien diversity, they show brave men and women from every species and race fighting on the side of good for the safety of the universe.
The first half of the film establishes the climate in which they exist as the Empire’s hold on the galaxy grows stronger and the Rebel Alliance becomes increasingly desperate to stop them. Galen is at the centre of the story since both sides view his knowledge as a key component to their victory, even while they each question his loyalty. The Alliance is skeptical of Galen’s claim to be a double agent, while the Empire is confident their new weapon will squash any and all resistance. Meanwhile, Jyn is dragged into the fray as everyone tries to leverage her connection with her estranged father.
A scene from  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
A scene from 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial military, heads the Death Star project and hopes to use its power as a stepping stone to becoming Vader’s second-in-command — though he’s not the only one eyeing the position. Mendelsohn is an excellent villain and his ambitious determination never falters; he is absolutely sure of himself and the weapon he’s spent more than a decade overseeing.
While the faces of evil are limited, the rebels are many. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) leads most of the Alliance’s complex/critical missions, which has hardened him over time. His droid, K-2SO (voice of Alan Tudyk), is one of the cleverest machines and its lack of a filter makes it entertainingly cheeky. Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) have an amusing partnership, much like The Odd Couple… though their contributions to the several skirmishes are quite unmatched. And Riz Ahmed plays the reluctantly brave Bodhi Rook, consistently demonstrating the duality he experiences in every situation.
The combination of this exceptional cast and director Gareth Edwards’ desire to make a great film results in one of the most thoughtful, stimulating and moving film’s in the franchise’s history. The filmmakers even make a controversial yet fitting decision to exclude the traditional text crawl at the start of the film because this story stands apart from the previous seven episodes — in more ways than one.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Alan Tudyk
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