Monday, January 16, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Directed by Gareth Edwards and screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta with characters created by George Lucas, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the story of a group of Rebel spies who are tasked to find the plans of a new weapon by the Imperial Empire known as the Death Star. The film is a prequel to the original 1977 film as it play into a group of different individuals who go on a mission to find a way to destroy this new super weapon in the hope that a rebellion can bring balance back to the galaxy. Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Riz Ahmed, Genevieve O’Reilly, Jimmy Smits, Mads Mikkelsen, and James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader. Rogue One is a sprawling and gripping film from Gareth Edwards.

The film follows a young woman whose father is a renowned engineer as he has left a message about how to destroy a secret weapon the Imperial Empire called the Death Star. After being freed by Rebel spies, she reluctantly joins them as she is aided by an Imperial defector, a reprogrammed Imperial droid, two outsiders, and a Rebel officer who would retrieve something that could give hope to the Rebellion against the Imperial Empire. It’s a film with a simple premise yet it play into not just the idea of rebellion but also what is at stake and how this young woman finds herself needing to deal with the loss she’s been carrying for years as she is also unsure if she wants to help the Rebel Alliance. The film’s screenplay is filled with not just some complexities of this conflict that is brewing between the Imperial Empire and the Rebel Alliance but also a young woman caught in the middle as she is more concerned about reuniting with her father and learn about what he has been doing since he was taken from her.

The character of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is seen as someone who has been a small thorn for the Empire as she is first seen in a prison labor camp where she is released by some spies who want her help to find her father in Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who has sent a message to the Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Jyn knows Gerrera as he had raised her following her father’s abduction and her mother’s death where there is some history but Gerrera is reluctant to help the Rebel Alliance knowing that their own political ideals is what is holding them back. The script also reveal more about Galen who has been forced to help create the weapon that is the Death Star under the supervision of former friend/Imperial leader Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) who is hoping for some recognition but is contending with the thirst of glory with another Imperial leader in Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry w/ digital facial re-creation and voice of Peter Cushing).

The script also reveal some of the flaws of the Rebellion as its intelligent officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is ordered to do something for the Rebel Alliance but he becomes unsure as he’s also filled with some guilt of what he had to do for the cause. Yet, there are those such as the former Imperial cargo pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), and mercenary Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) who all believe that there is some form of hope no matter how bad things with the Imperial Empire trying to take hold of the entire galaxy. Even as there is a scene in the second act where Jyn is in the middle of a Rebel Alliance meeting where it is clear how worried and fractured they are as they’re unwilling to take some kind of chance. Another aspect of the script that is unique is that it shows a much broader view of the galaxy as it’s set in different planets to play into the way the Imperial Empire is controlling everything as it has something that does feel real.

Gareth Edwards’ direction is definitely vast in terms of not just the different planets that is set throughout the film but also this sense of danger and repression that looms throughout the film. Shot on various locations such as Iceland, Jordan, the Laamu Atoll in the Maldives, and some interiors shot at Pinewood Studios in Britain. Edwards create something that does feel more broader as it establishes a galaxy where the Empire has dominated so much from moons and bases where they’re controlling every aspect of life in the galaxy. It’s something that feels oppressive and real as the sequence on the planet of Jedha where it has these unique camera angles, compositions, and shots that almost mirror events that is happening in real life. That sense of grounding realism in a sci-fi adventure film give Edwards a lot to focus on the story and characters without having it be overwhelmed by the visuals.

The direction also has Edwards maintain something that is intimate as it relate to the characters where the film does have flashbacks as it relates to Jyn’s past but also opens with a sequence in which Jyn is forced to see her father be taken as well as the death of her mother in the hands of the Empire. While the film does have a dark and serious tone as it relates to the stakes and what this group of rogue rebels are going after. It does have some humor whether it’s comments from the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) or some of the Easter Eggs that relates to the franchise. Still, the film does have something that is immediate into what is happening where does bear elements of war films for its climax which is once again grounded in reality but also with a sense of adventure. Especially as Edwards uses a lot of wide and medium shots to capture the scope of the battles on the planet and in space to play into a conflict that forces the Imperial Empire that they’re not all invincible. Overall, Edwards create a thrilling and engaging film about a band of rebels finding the key to destroy a major weapon and bring hope to a rebellious faction.

Cinematographer Grieg Fraser does brilliant work with the film‘s cinematography from the way some of the scenes are lit in the exteriors for the different look in the planets as well as in the way some of the interiors are used in the lighting. Editors John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, and Jabez Olssen do excellent work with the editing as it play into the suspense and action while providing moments that do establish what is going on without deviating too much into conventional fast-cutting styles. Production designers Doug Chiang and Neil Lamont, with supervising art director Alastair Bullock and set decorator Lee Sandales, do amazing work with the design of some of the ships and bases of the two warring factions as well as the design other places including city exteriors from different planets. Costume designers David Crossman and Glyn Dillon do fantastic work with the design of the costumes from the ragged clothing of some of the rebels to the uniform of the Imperial including the one that Krennic wears. Makeup artist Amy Byrne and hair stylist Andrew Simonin do terrific work with the design on some of the creature in their facial designs as well as the look of Saw Gerrera in his declined state.

Visual effects supervisors Jonathan Cheetham, Luke Dodd, and John Knoll, along with special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, do incredible work with the visual effects from the design of some computer-created effects for some of scenes in space as well as the facial design of Grand Moff Tarkin that looks realistic as well as the usage of practical effects that help add a sense of realism to the film‘s look. Sound designers David Acord and Christopher Scarabosio, with sound editor Matthew Wood, do superb work with the sound as it play into the chaos of the battle scenes along with the sound of the droids and lasers. The film’s music by Michael Giacchino is great as it feature elements of bombast and soaring string arrangements to play into the adventure and drama while knowing when to use some of the music made famous by John Williams as it is a highlight of the film.

The casting by Jina Jay is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Warwick Davis as a member of Gerrera’s partisans, Alistair Petrie as General Draven who orders Cassian to do something secret for the Rebellion, Ben Daniels as a general who would take part in the climatic battle, Beau and Dolly Gadsdon in their respective roles as the young and younger Jyn, Nick Kellington as an alien who took part in the battle that is famous for his laugh, Valene Kane as Jyn’s mother Lyra, Genevieve O’Reilly as Rebel Alliance co-founder Mon Mothma, and Jimmy Smits as Senator Bail Organa who is also trying to find some hope for the Rebellion. Guy Henry’s performance as Grand Moff Tarkin with the digital facial impression of the late Peter Cushing is definitely marvelous to watch as it brings a famed character back to life and give him some crucial importance to the story.

In the role of Darth Vader, Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous provide the physical performances of the famed Sith lord with the voice of James Earl Jones as the character is more intimidating than ever as he’s only in a few scenes but make it so memorable to watch. Forest Whitaker is excellent as former Clone Wars veteran/Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera as an old family friend of Jyn Erso who is trying to deal with Empire any way he can as he is suspicious about many until he sees Jyn and Galen Erso’s message where he realizes there is some form of hope emerging. Mads Mikkelsen is superb as Galen Erso as a renowned engineer who is forced to take part in the creation of the Death Star as he would send a message revealing that he has exposed a vulnerability that would destroy the Death Star. Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic as Orson Krennic as an Imperial director who oversees the construction of the Death Star as he hopes to get some recognition for his work as well as deal with the emergence of the Rebellion. Riz Ahmed is brilliant as Bodhi Rook as a former Imperial cargo pilot who defects to the Rebellion as he carries Galen Erso’s message while being someone who is aware of the grasp of control of the Empire as he wants to do what is right.

Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen are amazing in their respective roles as the mercenary Baze Malbus and the blind warrior Chirrut Imwe as two friends who are resourceful and can do a lot with Malbus being the powerhouse of the two and Imwe is someone that is highly skilled as the latter is also aware of the Force and believes he can wield its power. Diego Luna is remarkable as Cassian Andor as a Rebel intelligence officer who is tasked with getting information about Galen Erso with Jyn’s aid where he becomes conflicted with his actions where he sees the bigger picture of what needs to be done. Alan Tudyk is incredible as K-2SO in a mixture of motion-capture and voice work as this reprogrammed Imperial droid that is often spouting numbers and probabilities as he is this fun comic relief that annoys Andor but proves to be quite helpful. Finally, there’s Felicity Jones in a phenomenal performance as Jyn Erso as a young woman who is reluctant to help the Rebellion as she’s been through a lot yet realizes what is at stake while coping with the loss of her family which only drives to wanting to do something and bring hope to the galaxy.

Rogue One is a tremendous film from Gareth Edwards. Featuring a phenomenal ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, a gripping story, and a killer score. It’s a film that doesn’t just give help bring in some new ideas and such to a popular franchise but also provide enough moments that its fans can and enjoy as well as casual audiences to be engaged by. In the end, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a spectacular film from Gareth Edwards.

Star Wars Films: Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back - Return of the Jedi - The Phantom Menace - Attack of the Clones - Revenge of the Sith - The Force Awakens - The Last Jedi - The Rise of Skywalker

Related: The Star Wars Holiday Special - Caravan of Courage - The Battle for Endor - The Clone Wars - Fanboys - The People vs. George Lucas

Anthology Series: Solo: A Star Wars Story - (Untitled Star Wars Anthology Film)

George Lucas Films: THX 1138 - (American Graffiti)

Gareth Edwards Films: (Monsters (2010 film)) - (Godzilla (2014 film))

© thevoid99 2017


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm glad you liked this! I can't wait to watch it again.

ruth said...

Glad you enjoyed this too Steven! Yes I think Gareth did a great job w/ it, I liked it more than Force Awakens. Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen were awesome and Felicity Jones was terrific as the lead too. What do you think about Leia's CGI though? I thought it was so jarring whilst I didn't have as much issue w/ Peter Cushing's CGI.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-Same here. I'll wait for it on TV soon.

@ruth-It was a bit jarring but considering the recent events, it was nice to see Carrie one more time although I would've just shot it from behind and have her hold thing and have her say "hope" w/o showing her face because we all know who it is.