'ROGUE ONE' (2016)
Directed by - Gareth Edwards
Written by - Christ Weitz and Tony Gilroy
The level of anticipation that brewed for Rogue One, for obvious reasons, was markedly lower than that which was evident for 'The Force Awakens.' And despite being a fan of the franchise, it was no different for me. While I was excited to watch this stand alone spin off, the lead up to it somehow failed to elicit the same level of electrifying giddiness. As I awaited the words "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" to fade onto the screen, I found that I lacked the spine chills and goosebumps that I would've otherwise expected to have.
However, as the movie began, in a rather unceremonious and unorthodox fashion, I was hooked from the very first scene. Although in hindsight, perhaps the muted expectations played a part in my perception of the film. As a director, Gareth Edwards has come a long way from 'Monsters.' It takes a certain amount of guts to leap headfirst into one of the most beloved story worlds in film history and make it your own and Edwards has done just that.
While this is not a flawless film by any means, it is bold in its approach, taking the franchise to new grounds from a thematic point of view. The story is bleak, the characters are grounded in realism and in many ways the film delivers a narrative that is far more reminiscent of a war drama than a space fantasy. The factions are no longer treated as absolutes as the rebel alliance is painted with noticeable shades of grey. But the darkness of the tone is nevertheless complimented by an underlying theme that revolves around hope. While this may appear cliched on the face of it, this juxtaposition of tone gives the story an edge and makes the characters relatable.
While every preceding Star Wars film weaved in a degree of lighthearted, childish humour, Rogue One is injected with a heavy dose of cynicism and dry wit, more often than not employed by the endearing yet brusque K-2SO, who benefits from a fantastic vocal performance by Alan Tudyk.
The performances are laced with sobriety and the characters are nuanced and well rounded, some more well developed than others. Felicity Jones in particular leads from the front, portraying Jyn Erso with grit and strength. To delve into every character right now would be impossible without giving away key elements of the story, so for now all I'll say is that the cast as a whole does a very good job, with the exception of Mads Mikkelsen, whose portrayal of Galen Erso feels forced and unconvincing.
From a technical viewpoint, the film is, as expected, a standout. Though the CGI suffers from a couple of questionable choices, the combination of the Production Design and Greig Fraser's Cinematography provides a breathtaking spectacle spanning numerous locales. The Editing is seamless and is responsible for creating a palpable tension and a sense of urgency that ought to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
As for the music; this is the first Star Wars film not to be scored by John Williams and unfortunately it shows. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with Michael Giacchino's score, it fails to match up to the visual spectacle the way Williams' music always did and lacks any identifiable theme that could have the potential to be iconic.
The film of course, relies entirely on its audience having watched, at the very least, the first Stars Wars movie - ‘A New Hope,’ but then again, those who haven’t already watched that, or are uninterested in doing so, are not really the target audience here. Despite its flaws and the lack of certain mythological elements that are identifiable with the Star Wars saga, Rogue One does a splendid job to keep us invested. It is a more than worthy addition to the franchise and easily warrants multiple viewings.
VishRates - 4.5 / 5
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