Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first of two spin-offs to the Star Wars canon, this one placed inbetween the lacklustre Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and next Christmas’ Episode VIII. Episode IX will come at Christmas 2019, with a young Han Solo movie being released at the yuletide season inbetween… and I still think he should be played by Anthony Ingruber who was a dead ringer as a young Harrison Ford, and a highlight in the otherwise dreadful The Age of Adeline. But, unfortunately, I’ve not been given the job of casting that movie. Nor any other.
This year’s entry begins with Commander Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) stopping off at the Ring of Kafrene to force Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and his family to come with them and help build the Deathstar or, as Krennic calls it “become Heroes of the Empire”… but to them, they’ll be hostages. Luckily, daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones, or rather Beau Gadsdon, since the child version is in the movie’s early scenes) manages to escape so she can grow up to become part of the resistance, all in a bid to tracking down the plans for the planet-killing machine and destroying it big-time.
How does she know this is possible? Well, the explanation is brief, but if you don’t want to know anything at all beyond the above basics (and almost everything about the Star Wars movies is shrouded in secrecy prior to release), then skip the spoiler-tagged section below.
I could list all the places they go to, besides the one I’ve already mentioned and Imperial-occupied moon Jedah – one of the film’s main locations, but you know what Star Wars is like – they go from here, to there, to somewhere else, back again to one, some or all of them, and sometimes onto somewhere else before it ends.
Partnering Jyn in the ‘present day’ (as it were – well, the same era as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is Diego Luna as Cassian Andor. You could say that she is ‘Princess Leia’ while he is ‘Han Solo’, but Leia was a bit drippy, and Jyn has far bigger balls than Cassian! They’re joined by Wen Jiang as Baze Malbus (who has a huge awesome weapon!), Donnie Yen as blind swordsman (and more adept than anyone else) Chirrut Îmwe, while Riz Ahmed is pilot Bodhi Rook, while Forest Whitaker is his usual grumpy self as Saw Gerrera. But I find I never remember (or even begin to learn) their character names while watching most fantasy movies, bar the leads.
However, can anyone tell me why does Jimmy Smits, as Bail Organa, have a set of darts in his top pocket? Not once does he suggest that you can’t beat a bit of Bully!
And did you stay for the post-credits scene where Jimmy Smits said: “Come and have a look at what you could’ve won”. And Jyn replies, “A bloody speedboat? You’re having a giraffe, aren’t you?”
Joking aside, while Felicity and Mads are always a great watch, no-one else really tries to flex their acting muscles. They’re never bad, but they’re never brilliant, either. But one actor in the cast DOES stand out from the crowd.
K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), the robot who flies the Rogue One spacecraft (thus making Riz Ahmed less the pilot and more the navigator) is hilarious – easily the best screen robot since Marvin The Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Full of sarcasm and bluntness of tone, I won’t repeating the many lines he comes out with, save for a couple, one being when they need to find a particular location. Cassian says they need to find a map, to which K-2SO replies, quick as a flash, “Well, I’m sure there’s one just lying around(!)”, and later when identifying a particular, necessary route to take, “There are 89 Stormstroopers in our path. I calculate we’ll get 33% of the way before we are killed”. His statistics about their chances of survival often infuriate the rest of them.
There were two other cast members of interest, but if you’re going to watch the movie, I suggest you avoid what’s beneath this spoiler heading. I certainly won’t list them in the credits, nor the tags.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the film.