A Dirty Dozen type men (and woman) on a mission movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stays faithful to the aesthetic style of George Lucas’ 1977 game-changer. Gareth Edwards’ 2016 film creates a lot of characters but none of them have the spark of those in the original trilogy, the prequels or even J.J Abrams and Rian Jonson’s films. I can’t buy Felicity Jones as an intergalactic badass, no matter how many times we’re told she is – she just doesn’t have the chutzpah of Carrie Fisher’s Leia or Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor has a little more pizzaz, but he just feels like a poor man’s Han Solo. I liked Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, a character who might have been the bad guy, but he only wanted to get his job done – and I felt bad that not even his superiors admired his effort.
The film brings back Darth Vader (voiced once again by James Earl Jones) and we see him in action like never before, dispatching a group of rebels with his lightsaber. On the one hand this is great, yet on another slightly incongruous to how he’s presented in the original series. We’re also given a photorealistic CGI rebuilding of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, offering the character a full-blooded (yet totally pixelated) supporting role. Once you’ve met the original Rebel fighters and seen the plans to the Death Star handed to a youthful Carrie Fisher, you’ll be eager to get stuck into Lucas’ original trilogy. It’s as if Gareth Edwards didn’t just want to make a spin-off to A New Hope, but a whole new first act. It’s great seeing this, but deep down there’s a cynicism within me that makes me feel uneasy. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting old, or maybe I respect George Lucas too much. It seems people don’t like it when Lucas messes around with his own movies, but it’s okay if a trumped-up fanboy can do it using $200 million of Disney’s dime.
Released in 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story grossed $532.1 million at the US box office and over $1 billion worldwide.