Good news for Star Wars fans: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is a fun romp with lots of special effects, emotional sacrifices and fantastic space battles. While veteran Star Wars fans will find plenty to quibble about, it’s plenty fun.
If you don’t want even minor spoilers, stop reading at this point.
“Rogue One” takes place just before “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” the movie that began the Star Wars phenomenon. “A New Hope” opens with Darth Vader gunning down Princess Leia’s starship as she attempts to get the stolen plans for the Empire’s Death Star to rebel leaders. “Rogue One” connects very nicely to that first movie and shows how the rebellion got its hands on the plans and why there was a flaw in the Death Star design in the first place.
Heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Rebel leader Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who accompanies Jyn on this critical mission, have great on-screen chemistry.
But as happens in a lot of Star Wars movies, it’s the relationship with one’s parents that is the root of a lot of the tension. In this case, Jyn is the abandoned daughter of the man who would go on to make the Death Star a reality. Her father leaves the Empire because he doesn’t want to be responsible for the creation of a weapon that will ensure total galactic domination for the Empire.
But Empire stormtroopers find and take him back. Jyn hides and they leave without her. A rebel friend, Saw Gerrera, (played by Forest Whitaker) raises Jyn. While arguably the biggest name in this film, Whitaker is hardly in the movie, providing a few plot points and not much else.
Continuing the tradition of creating memorable droids, K-2SO is an Empire droid who has been reprogrammed to serve the Rebel Alliance. Voiced by Alan Tudyk (of “Firefly” fame), he gets most of the laughs.
I enjoyed a lot of the characters in this “gather your party” adventure, but the blind Asian martial arts role (Chirrut Îmwe, played by Donnie Yen) seemed a touch stereotypical. I was moved, however, by his overly protective friend with all the big guns, Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang).
The first third of “Rogue One” is full of new characters, places and backstories. I found it a little difficult to follow. If you’re not an avid Star Wars fan, you may find it helpful. Veteran Star Wars watchers will find it tedious, but hang in there, you’re in for a good ride.
As the movie hurtles into action mode, spectacular battles and a very satisfying plot tie-in will keep you riveted for the rest of the movie. The special effects are the usual high standard, but are best when they create gritty battle scenes where it’s less like a science fiction movie and more like an army battling for its life on a beachfront.
There is very little Jedi stuff here. It would be too easy to accomplish the mission if Jedis were part of the rebel force. “Rogue One” is more guerrilla warfare than “shock and awe.”
While the plot of this story is an open secret, there are a few surprises for fans of the franchise. Watch carefully and enjoy the cameos from earlier movies, including some that shouldn’t be possible.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in theaters Friday.
Tony Lone Fight saw the original Star Wars movie in theaters at the age of 13 and has followed the franchise with great zeal all of his life. While there are bigger Star Wars fans, he can define: hydrospanner, Corellian Bloodstripe and Darth Plagueis. He thinks “Empire” is the best film and — hate him if you want — “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” is second best. Contact him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/
Correction: In an earlier version, I attributed a quote from rebel leader Mon Mothma saying “many Bothans died to get us this information” to the wrong Star Wars movie. I even told friends that I wouldn’t be happy unless a lot of Bothans died in this movie. The quote, however, is from “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi” and refers to knowing that the Emporer was on a second Death Star still under construction. So no Bothans died in this movie, nor should they.