After the tremendous success of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (read about what I thought about it here – https://timchew.net/2015/12/16/star-wars-the-force-awakens-episode-7/) which really reignited the saga, I was looking forward to see what Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would come up with seeing that pretty much everyone knows what happens in Episode IV (ie. Death Star getting blown up and all that…).
[Updated at 12.22am, 15 December 2016]
Wei Ling and I attended the movie premier on 14 December 2016, a day before the movie opens to public in Malaysia. As expected, there were a whole bunch of characters from the Star Wars movies for us to take photos with like Darth Vader, Jedi, rebel pilots, stormtroopers, Imperial officers, etc. etc.
What really took us by surprise was the number of fans who actually dressed up for the occasion! From Jedi to Sith and everything in between, we could see just how passionate they were!
Movies rarely leave me breathless at the end, well perhaps some epics like Lord of the Rings. But Rogue One simply blew me away – leaving me traumatised, excited, sad and shocked! Now I thought Episode VII was good, back to the Star Wars original roots (ie. episodes 4, 5 and 6) instead of the very forgettable prequels (ie. episodes 1, 2 and 3) which I thought were quite disappointing. Rogue One is just on another level altogether!
The movie starts off slow, like Episode IV, but slowly built up momentum to a very climatic ending. Look out for familiar characters and starships from the Star Wars universe, with some new ones like the U-Wing to boot. There are all the elements of a fantastic movie crammed into this one – a great storyline that is independent yet consistent with the Star Wars universe/ canon, great action, a witty script, wonderful cinematography and even a dash of romance. Unfortunately no Jedi were to be seen although Darth Vader does make a cameo.
The on-planet/ land scenes so seamlessly blended the CGI with the natural scenery (the movie was shot with actual models and sets in various countries) that it provided an unparalleled sense of realism unlike the rather detached reality that arose from the excessive use of green screens in the prequels (episodes 1-3). I won’t say more, just that if you’re going to watch it, make sure you watch it in IMAX if possible.
I’ve added some spoilers at the bottom of this post after the photos. Read at your own risk.
Here’s the official info on the film:
“Rogue One” tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes, who in a time of conflict band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is directed by Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla,” “Monsters”) and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Cinderella”) and Simon Emanuel (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1&2”). Veteran ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), who shares a long history with the Star Wars films, is executive producer alongside Jason McGatlin (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “The War of the Worlds”).
Academy® and BAFTA Award nominee Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything,” “Like Crazy”) heads up the cast and stars opposite Diego Luna (“Milk,” “Elysium”). Joining them are Ben Mendelsohn (“Bloodline,” “Animal Kingdom”), Mads Mikkelsen (“Casino Royale,” TV’s “Hannibal”), Alan Tudyk (“Frozen,” “I Robot”), Riz Ahmed (“Nightcrawler,” “Jason Bourne”) and Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” “The Butler”). The film also welcomes two of China’s biggest stars, Donnie Yen (“Ip Man,” “Blade II”) and Jiang Wen (“Let the Bullets Fly,” “The Sun Also Rises”).
Academy Award®-nominee Felicity Jones plays the protagonist Jyn Erso, an impetuous, defiant young woman who lends her skills to the Rebel Alliance and undertakes a desperate mission.
Diego Luna plays the role of Cassian Andor, a respected Alliance intelligence officer, required an actor of unparalleled talent and experience, one able to convey intelligence, strength and determination and yet a vulnerability.
Chirrut Îmwe is a blind monk who is a skilled and artful warrior played by martial arts superstar Donnie Yen.
Baze Malbus, a pragmatic soldier, has grown up with Chirrut and will follow his closest friend to the ends of the universe. Jiang Wen, one of China’s biggest stars, was the perfect complement to Yen’s Chirrut and the perfect choice to play Baze. Of his character, Jiang Wen says, “Ultimately, he’s a good man at heart and very honest and is very loyal to his friend Chirrut. And Chirrut’s friends are his friends.”
Bodhi Rook is a cargo pilot who works for the Empire but changes course when faced with a harsh truth. Riz Ahmed, who plays Bodhi, says of his character: “Gareth described Bodhi as a guy in a war movie who isn’t supposed to be there. Everyone on the team is a soldier or warrior in some way and there’s this guy who is there by accident but realizes he has to step up and make himself valuable. He’s an everyman, someone audiences can relate to.”
“Rogue One” has its own creative and uniquely designed droid—K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial security guard now loyal to the Alliance. The 7’1” K-2SO is played by Alan Tudyk, who brings his sense of comedic timing and presence to the task of bringing the droid to life via motion capture.
“Alan is like all great comic actors in that, as funny as he is, he can pull at your heart strings as well,” offers Gareth Edwards. “We didn’t want K2 just to be the comic relief. There is something slightly tragic about him trying to find his place in the world. There are moments of fun, but Alan gives him a soul.”
Saw Gerrera is perhaps the most complicated character in this story and certainly unlike any other we have seen in the Star Wars universe before. Originally introduced in the animated series, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” Saw is an outlaw rebel, a man who believes that the Empire must be defeated, but at what cost? Is it acceptable to sacrifice the innocent for the greater good or does that make him as guilty as those he opposes? To play the role of Saw Gerrera, Edwards looked no further than Academy Award®-winning Forest Whitaker. “Saw is very clear about what he believes,” says Whitaker about his character. “He’s willing to do things he thinks are necessary to save the people.”
Galen Erso, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is Jyn’s father and a brilliant scientist. On becoming part of the Star Wars family, Mikkelsen says, “It’s a big honor to be part of this legendary film universe. Something very interesting to me about Star Wars is that it’s quite human, even though we have Droids and different kinds of creatures that look very different from the human race.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in Malaysian cinemas on 15 December 2016.
For more info, head over to http://www.starwars.com/rogue-one/
Visuals courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Malaysia.
[Warning – spoilers below]
Look out for R2D2 and C3PO, the only two (2) characters that have appeared in all the Star Wars films – from Episode 1 to 7, and now – Rogue One.
The Darth Vader fight scene shows just how vicious and terrifying he is.
I anticipated Rogue One to be more like Episode 3.5 – halfway in between episodes 3 and 4 but oh how mistaken I was. Watch Episode IV: A New Hope if you can before you watch Rogue One and you’ll realise that Rogue One is more like Episode 3.99
Rogue One really sets the tone for Episode IV. At the end of the movie, you’ll realise just how big the cost to get the plans for the Death Star was, and why there were so few Rebel starfighters left to attack the Death Star in Episode IV.
If you’re like me and played the Star Wars PC and PlayStation games like X-Wing, X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, Star Wars Battlefront, Empire at War, etc. etc. you’ll really appreciate the battle scenes as some are so immersive you’d be forgiven if you thought you’re in a first person shooter game.
As with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, look out for layers in the battles. There are things taking place in the background and if you concentrate too much on the foreground you’ll miss it. This is why you should really watch it in IMAX 3D as you get more depth.