ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (USA/UK/12A/133mins) Directed by Gareth Edwards. Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendlestohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Peter Cushing, James Earl Jones.
THE PLOT: We’ve been here before… As a child, Jyn Erso (Jones) witnesses her mother being murdered as she attempted to save the little girl’s retired scientist father (Mikkelsen) being snatched away by the evil Orson Krennic (Mendlesohn) so he can build the Empire’s planet-crushing Death Star. Cut to sixteen years later, and the rebel alliance need Jyn to reach the father she hasn’t seen since that fateful day, in the hope of stopping the Death Star before it’s too late. The Alliance send Cassian Andor (Luna) and android K-250 (Tudyk) too, the three soon joined by mystic martial arts mind-reader Chirrut (Yen) and his burly sidekick, Blaze Malbus (Jiang) as they go planet-hopping and laser- dodging…
THE VERDICT: As with ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, there is something reassuringly old school about ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, an off-shoot ‘Star Wars’ story that charts the creation of that nasty Death Star the young Luke Skywalker tackles in 1977’s ‘A New Hope’. It’s the old adage of there only being a handful of stories in the world, and with ‘Star Wars’, it’s always pretty much the same one.
We’re introduced to a chosen one as a child, they join a motley crew (ostensibly led by a cowboy and his wisecracking, cuddly toy sidekick) in a interplanetary rust bucket to try and stop the evil Empire from completing The Planet Fecker 3000 and painting the world black, and along the way, they resolve some parenting issues.
Not that ‘Rogue One’ – as with ‘ The Force Awakens’ – isn’t jolly good fun, possessing all the bells & waistoids and abundance of gags that come with the highly-polished franchise blockbusters of today. Above all others, Disney have taken the Bruckheimer formula of pleasing all four quadrants at once by uniting them all in what are, ultimately, hero stories with lots of wink- wink laughs thrown in.
It’s worth noting too that the ‘Star Wars’ franchise is much more than just nostalgia porn – these films are designed to not only please Comic Book Guy, but to have the young kids hooting and hollering for decades and decades to come. Reel ‘em in, like football fans, and they’ll follow you, no matter who’ s playing on your team. The only downside of a well- crafted, meticulously-planned and well-oiled franchise outing is, of course, the slightly unnerving feeling that you’re just a schmuck, falling for a well-crafted, meticulously-planned and well-oiled franchise outing.
Oh, and as with all big brand outings, this bugger is about 20 minutes too long. Other than that though, you get plenty of bantha for your buck here.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne