Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk, Jimmy Smits, James Earl Jones (Rated M – 133 min).
While the trailers alone anticipated body chills and streaming tears of delight, as a self confessed Star Wars aficionado of a certain degree, readers of this review can be certain I will not give away plot spoilers here.
Not entirely the first official Star Wars spin-off feature, that honour goes to a duo of Ewok films actually made for television but cinema released in selected countries including Australia. An Ewok Adventure (1984) & Ewoks Battle for Endor (1985) – as cool for kids as they were, they were no comparison to the original saga trilogy.
Events in Rogue One are set before Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) but five years beyond the popular animated series, Star Wars Rebels. How exactly the Rebellion made risk assessment decisions to steal Death Star plans are shown in great detail and riveting excitement.
For the uninitiated, the Death Star is a planet sized weapon that is the focus of rookie Jedi Luke Skywalker all conquering X-Wing strike in Episode Four finale. A second Death Star was being constructed in Return of the Jedi (1983).
It starts off slower than any other Star Wars production. Magnificent special effects reign throughout unique air and land battle situations are constant to keep Rogue One moving without leaving behind the traditional galaxy far-far-away ethics and scope of adventure.
Oscar nominee for The Theory of Everything (2014), multi-talented Felicity Jones, gives women empowerment a stringent edge as the charismatic heroine Jyn Erso. She’s tough and alert to situations making her the best to sneak in and out, preferably undetected.
Although we are in the company of galactic villain royalty with the presence of Darth Vader, he is in cohorts with the dark side with high ranking evil empire official Orson Krennic played by Australia’s own Ben Mendlesohn relishing being bad. Snarling, cruel, manipulative – he has the delivery and the look to scare young children.
Fans will be familiar with Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), a rebellion senator that raises hell against the dark side. Cool and capable with failure not an option, she’s the backbone orchestrating this massive endurance assignment, not to mention she is the adoptive mother to a certain twin separated at birth, Princess Leia Organa.
As good as it gets for a Star Wars extended saga adventure. Call it what you will -there is fast, somewhat familiar fun to be had. References to the old favourites are scattered throughout while devotees of the newer Rebels series – prepare to be delighted by direct engagements to certain characters.
While waiting twelve months for currently unnamed Star Wars Episode Eight to release following on from The Force Awakens, there is nothing not to like about the artistic action methods of Rogue One and its loving links to A New Hope.
Shane A. Bassett