Breathe. This is the prequel you were looking for. From the very first moments it’s clear that Rogue One stands distinctly alone in style and tone, yet blends almost seamlessly into the existing canon – quite literally, in some remarkable instances. This is cued audibly in Michael Giacchino’s marvellous score – a marked departure from John Williams’ work.
Visually striking on both grand and intimate scales, director Gareth Edwards has built not only new types of planet and technology for a well-known universe, but delivered new ways of filming them. Action, both grounded and airborne, feels alive and real, in worlds which hum with authenticity. There’s a keen and constant urgency, as the story is forced onwards by a sense of menace. Mostly sombre and gritty, it’s also outright funny when it wants to be, with Tudyk’s K-2SO and Yen’s Chirrut using the tension for humour without breaking it.
Jones makes Jyn a strong lead and leader, with fire covering her fragilities, and Luna’s a brilliant foil to her. On the dark side, Mendelsohn is sublime in his chief villain role and Darth Vader has reached his truest depiction. These are only the highlights of a widely excellent cast of characters.
You know how it ends, but throughout the journey the stakes are very real and fully felt. The brilliance of Rogue One grows, building in a world-shattering crescendo to deliver the best final act of the eight films. Not just a great Star Wars film; a great film of its own.
In clear rebellion from the Saga franchise, Edwards has taken Star Wars in a glorious new direction. There’s so much to love for fans old and new in this film full of surprises and emotion among the expectation and action. Rogue One is an absolute blast.
CAST: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen
DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards
WRITERS: Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy (screenplay), John Knoll and Gary Whitta (story), George Lucas (characters)
SYNOPSIS: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans to the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
A preview screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was kindly provided by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.