Matt Adcock reviews Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A)
Prepare to jump to light speed once again as we find ourselves caught up in the big screen sci-fi events of a rebellion built on hope. Not A New Hope which was the blueprint for the last year’s The Force Awakens but rather a desperate gambit by some plucky rebels who must risk everything if they are to help stop the Empire’s new Death Star.
Rogue One is both the prequel to Star Wars IV (A New Hope) and a kind of sequel to Star Wars III (Revenge of the Sith). It’s a new kind of Star Wars prequel, namely one that doesn’t’ suck.
Meet gutsy young Jyn Erso (Brit actress Felicity ‘A Monster Calls’ Jones), whose dad happens to be the architect of the Empire’s planet destroying super weapon. Aided by a rag-tag fugitive crew that includes Force samurai Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ Yen), freelance assassin Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and a reformed Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz ‘Nightcrawler’ Ahmed) they attempt an audacious mission.
Also in on this potentially suicidal effort to steal the plans of the Death Star are Rebel Alliance Captain Cassian Andor (Diego ‘Elysium’ Luna), Clone Wars veteran Saw Gerrera (Forest ‘Arrival’ Whitaker) and comedy kick-ass enforcer droid K-2S0 (Alan ‘Big Hero 6’ Tudyk) who steals every scene he's in. And if you don’t recognise any of those names from the sequels – you just know that all bets are off as to who will survive, which gives Rogue One a fantastic sense of unpredictability and peril.
The Dark Side sees the glorious return of Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl-Jones) and suitably nasty Director Orson Krennic (Ben ‘Slow West’ Mendelsohn) doing the Empire’s nefarious bidding. Also back is a surprise - aided by CGI - character that helps this link to the next film.
When the battle to steal the plans kicks off it’s all wonderful Star Wars battle business, there is pure nostalgic joy in seeing AT-ATs attacking the rebels whilst X-Wings and a variety of other spaceships duke it out in some of the best space combat ever committed to film.
Although it drags initially, if you’re not on the edge of your seat by the finale you’re probably in a Force coma – Rogue One is a cracking space odyssey that does great fan service to those who love the original Star Wars films whilst simultaneously expanding the universe in new and cool ways.
Packed with crowd-winning references and cameos from other Star Wars movies, this is how you make a truly epic prequel, Mr Lucas.