Director: Gareth Edwards
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, Simon Emanuel
Screenwriters: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker
Composer: Michael Giacchino
Cinematographer: Greig Fraser
Editors: John Gilroy, Jabez Olssen, Colin Goudie
While 2015’s The Force Awakens was dropping $2.2 billion dollars into the worldwide box office and smashing records left, right and center the wider public were largely unaware that another vitally important Star Wars project was already in production. That film was Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and as it arrives in UK cinemas on Thursday 15th December it’s set to receive just as many plaudits as The Force Awakens did.
Set just prior to the 1977 original (better known these days as Episode IV A New Hope) Rogue One focuses on the efforts of the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the fearsome Death Star battle station. Led by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), she is aided by cautious intelligence operative Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), warrior monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his protector, the assassin Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). Ex-Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and security droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) round out the core team. K-2SO has a droll sense of humour which provides many of the films biggest laughs.
Stacked against the forces of good are the agents of evil led by Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the Imperial in charge of weaponizing the Death Star and the return of one of cinema’s greatest ever villains, Darth Vader. As the film propels us through dizzying action and stunningly detailed worlds (no opening scroll, a twist on the familiar fanfare), all the while tipping the hat and giving nods that will have long-time fans squealing in delight, there is little to match the thrill of seeing Vader at his evil best. Indeed, the third act of Rogue One is an exhilarating joy. Fans will NOT be disappointed.
Replacing John Williams (busy on Episode 8 scoring duties) is Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino, who presents a score that is immediately and unmistakably Star Wars while giving it his own spin. The visual effects by ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) contain a number of next-level moments set to have audiences gasping, and all of this is confidently steered by Nuneaton-born director Gareth Edwards, a man clearly born to direct a project like this.
In my review last year I said The Force Awakens was ‘the film of the decade’. I gleefully take that back. THIS is now the film to beat. The bar has been raised – over to you Episode 8.
Review originally published in The Lichfield Mercury on 15th December 2016.