How can I express in words my love for Star Wars? It was THE defining movie of my childhood and remains a passionate favorite even today. I even love the prequels for what they are. So when The Force Awakens was released I was in a dream like state in the theatre seeing something I was sure I would never have seen: a new Star Wars movie with the original actors returning. But then the news got better. After acquiring Lucasfilm, Disney announced they would be making scores of new Star Wars films for years to come. Aside from my marriage and the birth of my daughter, maybe the best news ever. Then Rogue One: A Star Wars Story came along. The first ever non-Skywalker saga Star Wars film. Sure it bridges a time gap in the original saga but it is the first time a film in the franchise has not focused on the main characters and shifted to a peripheral, and parallel, story. This month Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives on Blu-ray and it just seems to get better with every viewing.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has always been on her own. Her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), an engineer for the Galactic Empire, is being held against his will and forced to work on a massive new weapon that could change the fate of the entire galaxy. Jyn is recruited by the Rebel Alliance to help find the plans to the new weapon and deliver them to the Rebels in the hopes they can find a weakness in the weapon and stop the Empire. Along with Rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), his reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), two warriors named Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) and a small band of rebels, they must infiltrate an Imperial base and secure the plans in order to save the galaxy.
Much in the same way The Force Awakens managed to capture the magic of the original trilogy while still feeling fresh and new, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story managed to feel like it is directly pulled from the world of the original Star Wars while still feeling like a world we have never seen. And while that familiarity is essential, Rogue One also feels different in tone and in its approach. The dialogue is less wooden, less like the old serialized Buck Rogers films and more like a modern drama. The cast is phenomenal and really forms a ragtag group of rebels you immediately connect with and care about. Especially Jones’ Jyn Erso. Jones brings a strength to the character that really anchors the movie and inspires the other characters to follow her despite the odds. Disney is brilliantly creating a new crop of Star Wars heroes and making the two main ones so far as strong, independent women is genius, essential and inspiring. The Force Awakens Daisy Ridley as Rey and Jones’ Erso have instantly become iconic and rank right alongside Hamill’s Luke Skywalker as my favorite Star Wars characters ever. The action in Rogue One is monumental, the story engaging and exciting, the cast strong, the script tight and the feel perfectly executed. And it also accomplished something no fan thought they would ever see. The single best Darth Vader scene ever filmed. Seriously, you have not seen Vader until you have seen this film. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will no doubt be a new standard for the franchise and really gives me hope that the new films that will be coming to us will at least equal the brilliance of the original film and perhaps even surpass them at some point. Very highly recommended.