rogue-oneCast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen

Rogue One is the “prequel that isn’t a prequel”. Starting mere days before the events of the original release of Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) on her quest to retrieve the blueprints for a new planet destroyer developed by the ruthless Imperial Director Krennic. Whilst on this intrepid  adventure Jyn allies with an unlikely bunch of rebels, whilst trying to find out the truth behind her Father’s involvement in a dark and sinister plot…

Whilst it was promoted as a stand-alone film, you can easily argue that this is not only a prequel to ‘A New Hope’, as well as a sequel to ‘Revenge of the Sith’. Now prequels haven’t done well in the past. 90% of society agrees that sometimes we just want to forget that those films between 1999 and 2005 didn’t happen. However, this film doesn’t let you forget that they did, and ultimately makes up for some of their shortcomings.

From introducing us to a new group of rebel heroes, to inviting back a number familiar old faces, in a new and exciting way, to the extent that at one point I remember exclaiming out loud “How have they done that?!”, Rogue One is fan-service at its greatest. With clear allusions back to the film that started it all, as well as “those prequels”, the film combines the perfect blend of modern vs traditional storytelling.

Now I’ve seen a lot of grumbles on social media in the run up to the film (mainly from men – surprise, surprise), about the fact that this features another female lead. GASP. But if you really look at it subjectively, this film wouldn’t have worked with a male hero. To have a young girl lose her parents, become orphaned for years, and then be placed ‘in charge’ of a group of men who really underestimate her ability to lead…well that sounds like a powerful plot doesn’t it?

Felicity Jones’ Jyn has to be the standout character. This is her story and no one will tell me otherwise. The journey that she goes on, from scared little girl, to reckless prisoner, ultimately becoming the fierce heroine she turns into is a lot for a 133 minute film. But Jones pulls it off convincingly. Her verbal sparring partner Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, received a mixed reaction. Similar to Jyn he too goes on a journey throughout this film, starting off as a ruthless Intelligence Officer, he believes that his mission is to follow the orders he is given, and that’s it. However, over time, he suddenly realises that using your own instincts, and even listening to your heart, can far outweigh duty – especially when it comes to your friends.

The droids always do well in the Star Wars franchise, and Rogue One is no different. Reprogrammed Empire Security droid, K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), provides all of the comedic moments, at exactly the right times. I like to think that Alan spent most of his time laughing to himself in a soundbooth somewhere deep within Skywalker Ranch.

I have to give some mention (despite my hesitancy) to Ben Mendelsohn for his sincerely sinister portrayal of the slippery Orson Krennic. The mastermind behind the Death Star, Krennic leads with an iron fist, and doesn’t back down, even when someone (no, I’m not telling you who) tries to take the credit for his work. I think aside from Vader, Krennic is one of the creepiest villains in the Star Wars saga to date, purely because he is completely human. He has been manipulated into thinking that the actions he takes are the only route to peace. Even Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) tries to reason with him, pointing out that “You’re confusing peace with terror…”

The fact that the score wasn’t composed by John Williams concerned me slightly at first, but ultimately for no reason. Michael Giacchino’s credits alone stand him in high stead, with sci-fi franchises such as Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and Super 8 already under his belt. His OST for this film hit the nail on the head, taking us through the highs and lows, as well as . I said to my brother as we came out that with the soundtrack you could almost hear the rebellion without even having to see it. And that says a lot about Giacchino’s work. The track that plays right near the end (and you’ll know which I mean when you hear it) had my heart bleeding.

Despite the story remaining true to the tale we all know and love, Rogue One changes a lot for the viewer. To get the greatest experience of this film I would highly recommend re-watching A New Hope after you’ve been to watch this.

I’m going to leave you with one ‘slight’ spoiler, but all I’m going to say is: That end scene. Goosebumps. I almost couldn’t breathe.