Rogue One – A new Hope for Star Wars Fans

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Fabian Brims, Staff Writer

When Disney acquired the rights for the ‘Star Wars’ saga, their mission quickly became clear. Not only do they want to continue the story of the first six episodes, but they also want to produce origin stories, or in other words: several spinoffs. Movie universes are quite popular these days, some more (Marvel), some less (DC). After returning to the big screen with Episode 7 last year, Disney brings us ‘Rogue One’ this Christmas, the first Star Wars origin story.

The story takes place before Episode IV and is in fact a prequel. The civil war between the galactic empire and the rebels is in full effect and rumors are that the dark side of the force is about to present a new weapon, one that could change the outcome of the war. The young woman Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is being recruited because her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is the engineer of this revolutionary weapon – the Death Star. The rebels send her on a mission to retrieve the blueprints, and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is assigned to accompany her. What she doesn’t know is that his mission is to kill her father in order to prevent the completion of the Death Star.

The outcome is clear. Everybody who has seen the first Star Wars movie knows how the movie is going to end, but the story is not the main feature of this movie. Writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy were able to create a stand-alone-movie in the Star-Wars-universe that is entertaining and something completely new. It is much less a science-fiction adventure and rather a war movie, just with X-Wings and AT-ACT’s instead of airplanes and tanks. This new approach feels even more refreshing since last year’s Episode VII was pretty much just a remake of the first movie Episode IV – A New Hope.

Director Gareth Edwards (‘Monsters’) does an excellent job keeping control over the movie. The action scenes are complex but never confusing, while the story is simple but not too trite. He keeps a good balance of fan-service and a stand-alone-movie that might have been difficult to achieve. Also the special effects are perfect as expected.

Star Wars is one of the most profitable film-franchises, so it doesn’t surprise to see an all-star-cast in this movie. Besides Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Mads Mikkelsen, we also see Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk as the new fan-favorite, the imperial druid K-2SO, who is a little too chatty after being reprogrammed by the rebel forces.

This first Star Wars spin-off is surely not a perfect movie but definitely perfect entertainment. While hardcore fans and Star Wars purists will surely find some reasons to complain, the majority of fans will surely enjoy the numerous Easter eggs and the new characters while saying hello to some old friends.

I personally enjoyed how different it was to the previous films of the series. Disney did a great job expanding the universe without trying to exploit the franchise for a quick buck, which was the biggest concern of fans. They can rest assured now that this experiment was a success and can look forward to Episode VII next year.

Rouge One: A Star Wars Story (2016); directed by Gareth Edwards; with Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Mads Mikkelsen; PG-13, 133 min.

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