‘I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.’
In many ways, the run up to watching Rogue One was the complete opposite of my thorough preparation for seeing The Force Awakens this time last year. Whereas December 2015 was spent rewatching all the Star Wars films, all the cartoons, all the parody’s and basically devouring every Star Wars related thing in my path like a chubbier Death Star, this year I hadn’t even seen the trailer for Rogue One.
This was partly due to a bit of a malaise with all things Star Wars having thrown myself into that world so comprehensively last year but also because I struggled to really get excited about a movie that isn’t a ‘proper’ Star Wars film. Or so I thought…
While I loved The Force Awakens loads and loads, Rogue One is the better made of the two films. The fact that it is a self contained story that takes place in a very specific time in the Star Wars universe (between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope) gives director Gareth Edwards the freedom to make the right film without having to worry about any kind of legacy. This results in a movie that seamlessly plugs the gap between Episodes III and IV and deals with many unanswered questions posed by George Lucas’ somewhat lackadaisical attention to detail.
The Force Awakens was an enjoyable film experience, mainly because it reacquainted us with so many old friends. Rogue One doesn’t have this wish fulfilment to fall back on and instead relies on storytelling and character building while still finding time to throw some great Easter eggs in for long time fans. And this does feel like one for the fans. There is no BB8 equivalent here. The new droid K-2SO is much more Paranoid Android than C3PO and Rogue One feels like the least child friendly Star Wars film. Whether that is a negative or a positive is up to the viewer but it left me with a cinematic experience as good as any that I have had this year.
I don’t want to get too into individual characters to avoid spoilers but the whole cast do a great job, particularly Felicity Jones who surely has a bright future after a starring turn. All in all the performances are at least as strong as in The Force Awakens and definitely better than they are in the other prequels.
Rogue One isn’t perfect but nor should it be. It more than justifies its existence which was the most important box to tick and away from that burden Gareth Edwards has made a sterling addition to the Star Wars roster. I can’t imagine why anyone would be disappointed with this film.