AS PER USUAL THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW
I'm kicking off 2017 with a movie that was released in the tail end of 2016. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the newest, and under-advertised offering from the Star Wars franchise.
I've always found the Star Wars films to be a little bit too serious for my tastes - I was repelled by the political nature of the prequels - and although I do enjoy this franchise I feel like it can get caught up in the wrong things.
However, this film did not suffer from such issues. This film was excellent.
Just a side note - this film takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It concerns the stealing of the plans to the Death Star, so the Rebellion can attack it during A New Hope.
We open on a green and mountainous planet. Young Jyn Erso runs back towards her family's farm as an Imperial ship screams overhead. The Imperials are here for Jyn's father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen, pictured above), one of the best mechanics in the galaxy, so he can make the Death Star. They capture him, Jyn runs away, and Jyn's mother is murdered by the Imperials.
Smash cut to 18 or so years later. Jyn (Felicity Jones) is in a jail cell. She must sneak into an Imperial base on the island planet, Eadu, and steal the plans to the Death Star.
We're introduced to a bunch of other characters along the way. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is a Rebellion pilot, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) is a blind warrior who believes in the Force, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) is a Rebel mercenary and partner of Chirrut, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) is a sassy droid, and Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is a defecting Imperial pilot who joins the others on their quest.
I really enjoyed this film. It's often hard to make a large ensemble cast interesting and relatable (without skimping on the characterisation of at least one of the people within), but Rogue One did it admirably.
Every single one of these characters is so likeable. You really begin to empathise with them over the course of the film.
(It's a shame they all die in the end).
But, isn't that why it is worth it? Although they all die, and their fate is a grisly one, these characters did something to make us feel for them. They also saved the galaxy (which I suppose helps).
I appreciated how dark the film got. Some of the Star Wars films are a bit campy with no real consequences ("I HATE SAND" and 70% of the Anakin arc being some of those things), but this film made the Empire dark again. A little bit of maturity never hurt anyone and I think it's a good thing that they've made this film a bit grittier than most. If the other films are black and white, this one is a very specific shade of grey.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the diverse landscapes of this film. Genuinely, theres three landscapes in a Star Wars film. There's a desert (Jakku/Tatooine), a foresty planet (Naboo/Corellia/Yavin 4), and a futuristic city (Coruscant). When the locations diversify, things get interesting. The island-based planet in this film, Scarif, is tropical and very wet. We've never really gotten a chance to see stormtroopers on a beach before, and I love how they changed their armour for the environment they were in.
Plus, the whole 'beachy vibe' of the final few scenes really changed the film for the better for me. It's amazing what a change of scenery can do.
Also, the action scenes? Top notch! For once, the stormtroopers can finally shoot straight.
As for why the film is called Rogue One? Well, you'll just have to go and see it.
In all, this film is a decent watch. It's paced well, the characters are likeable, and it'll probably make you cry a bit. I'd definitely recommend seeing in a theatre because giant Star Destroyers flying across your eye line just don't look as good when you're watching off a tiny laptop screen.
Disney, you've done well.
What did you think about Rogue One? Let me know below!