‘Rogue One’ Soars to Blu-ray

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Cassian Andor in the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Jacob Jardel
Managing Editor
@JJardel_Writing

When a film franchise lasts for several iterations over four decades, some critics could argue that retelling and revamping a story gets old.

But when studios release good films in a lasting series, they have the potential to add even more timeless stories to already renowned intellectual properties (IPs).

Such was the case with the newest addition to the “Star Wars” Universe.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hits store shelves on April 4 after receiving a digital release on March 24.

Though it was not an official continuation of the George Lucas-created canon seen in Episodes I-VII, it acted as part of the newly conceived Anthology Series (AS).

The AS will include two more films, including the Han Solo origin story tentatively set to release in 2018 and a third unconfirmed film two years later.

They take place in the same universe as the original, prequel and sequel trilogies but do not alter the already-established story.

For “Rogue One,” director Gareth Edwards and writers John Knoll and Gary Whitta picked the story up somewhere between the events of “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope.”

Instead of focusing on a member of the Skywalker family, the story introduces audiences to a brand new set of protagonists who help tell interstitial parts of the story between Episodes III and IV.

“Rogue One” starts off with scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson) hiding from Imperial authority with his family.

Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) finds Erso and tries to convince him to join the Empire once more to complete their super weapon: the Death Star.

After a confrontation, Krennic all but forces Erso to leave for the Empire, but not before daughter Jyn escapes the house and the situation. Eventually, Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) rescues and cares for her.

Fifteen years later, Rebel intelligence leader Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) frees Jyn (Felicity Jones) from an Imperial labor camp to recruit her for a mission to extract her father from work on the Death Star.

But leader Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) has other ideas for Andor.

Throughout the rest of the story, Jyn and Andor encounter a variety of new allies, such as the droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), defected Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and Rebel warriors Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen).

Long story short, this movie is fantastic. Many reviewers refer to it as the best “Star Wars” movie since “The Empire Strikes Back,” and their reviews are by no means an exaggeration. From composition to pacing, from casting to score, this movie has it all as far as the series goes.

With that said, it may not be a film for viewers who are not fans of traditional space fantasy. There is nothing wrong with it, but it may not hold their attention.

Furthermore, the slow parts in the story, including the lack of traditional “Star Wars” elements, could easily turn off even the most loyal fans.

But one part of the movie that viewers cannot deny is the strength and diversity of some of the main characters.

Malbus and Imwe steal the screen in their scenes. Their chemistry with each other and the rest of the cast make their characters some of the most compelling in the movie.

For comic relief, there is Tudyk’s K-2SO, whose sarcasm and quick wit give audiences big laughs and enough emotional connection to care about his fate.

Rook also gives an amazing comedic performance with enough drama toward the end to leave audiences invested.

However, the two characters who propel the movie are Jyn and Andor. Their relationship goes through the ups and downs of a close friendship, and Jones and Luna play every part of it beautifully.

They show a great range of emotions while still keeping true to the overall persona of their characters.

Nonetheless, this adherence is necessary for a multi-layered story of extraction and, eventually, in finding the plans to the Death Star.

It gives the movie a heist-style feel amid a space fantasy of galactic proportion. It may not be appeal to everyone, but those who enjoy it do so to a great degree.

The most endearing part of the movie, though, are the references to the main canon of films.

While some movies of this sort can overplay cameos and nods to the parent movies, “Rogue One” did well to avoid doing so while still mentioning pertinent parts of the story to propel its own narrative.

As a whole, “Rogue One” is a fantastic addition to the “Star Wars” Universe. The characters, the writing, the score and the nuances that intertwine them make for an unforgettable experience.

It also proves that the Force is still strong in the series. — 9 out of 10 kyber crystals

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