I will never forget the first time I saw “Star Wars” on the big screen. I am, of course, referring to the 1977 original, also know as Episode IV, “A New Hope”.
I was completely blown away by what I was seeing on the theater screen, and became an immediate fan. A new chapter in the “Star Wars” saga is playing at local theaters to the delight of fans everywhere in the form of “Rogue One” A Star Wars Story.” The film is a prequel to the aforementioned 1977 film, and reveals how the plans for the Death Star (that big bad planet size weapon) were stolen in an effort to destroy the planet killer. This is also the first “Star Wars” film I remember that doesn’t begin with the famous “crawling” story line at the beginning as a way to bring us up-to-date on what has been happening in that galaxy far, far away. The film introduces the main character, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as a child, and we see how the Empire has a direct influence on her early life. Jyn is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a researcher scientist who unwillingly helped design the Death Star. After Galen escapes from the clutches of the Empire, they eventually locate him, but his Jyn is able to flee capture. Years later, however, Jyn is again taken by the Empire, but is able to escape thanks to the help of a Rebel extremist named Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Jyn eventually ends up with a team, including Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and K-2SO, a Rebel-owned Imperial officer droid, sent to the planet Jedha to find the plans for the Death Star that will help them learn how to destroy the galaxies ultimate weapon of destruction. Jyn and company, as expected, run afoul of many Imperial Storm Troopers, and two famous characters from “A New Hope”. There are several supporting characters that really stand out in the film, including the aforementioned K-2SO, along with Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind warrior with a special connection to the Force, and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a former Imperial pilot who has defected to the Rebels. The characters all have wonderful chemistry, and I loved every quip spouted by K-2SO, which provided much needed comic relief. The lead character of Jyn provides another strong “Star Wars” female hero, following in the footsteps of Kylo Ren from “The Force Awakens”, with Jones playing the character with steely determination. I also loved all the surprise cameos, of which I will not reveal, but since this is a prequel to “A New Hope”, I’m sure you are able to figure out that aspect on your own. With eye popping special effects, a smart script, and a director, Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”- 2014), respectful of the material, “Rogue One” A Star Wars Story” provides an exhilarating trip to that galaxy far, far away.
(Rated PG-13) 4 Droids (out of 4)