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When the whole revival of Star Wars began, I was quite hesitant, to say the least, as much as I was excited – we’ve not had a new movie in ten years, and the prequel trilogy was, let’s just say, a letdown. When Disney and J.J. Abrams announced we’re in for a whole conveyor-belt series of at least six films in the next six years, I was even more hesitant. Finally, the arrival of The Force Awakens lowered the bar for me even more – my personal opinion was it’s a more or less enjoyable experience, but spins too much around a well-established plot formula which gives déjà-vus even to somebody who’s only seen the six Star Wars movies once.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story manages to do more than most of us would probably expect from this first ‘spin-off’ in the series. The fans know where the story starts (after Revenge of the Sith) and where the story ends (before A New Hope), yet the movie bridges the gap between old and new in an exciting, compelling and entertaining way, keeping viewers still guessing what’s next despite the unforgiving fact that they know what’s next.
To anyone who has been wondering what happens in the lives of more or less regular Rebels, this movie is a breath of fresh air from the Jedi or Sith-centric tipping-the-balance-of-the-force plot pillars or twists. The protagonists are many, their morality ambiguous, their characters mostly more than two-dimensional.
Felicity Jones, who plays poster-girl Jyn Erso, despite mostly keeping that same expression of distrust on her face, manages to pull it off believably and true to her nature.
Mads Mikkelsen, who seems to be in every other AAA-movie these days, is not an eye-sore. The tag-along characters make you care about them and think again – you don’t need some Chosen One or their exact opposite to keep the story moving. Speaking of opposites, perhaps the bleakest point in the script is the lack of any serious menace of an antagonist in this motion picture, but then again, who in their right mind could possible steal the Imperial spotlight at a time of the rise of Darth Vader? Better nobody than some insecure Kylo Ren-ish persona, if you ask me. The main villain, for a change, is lack of trust and hope in the ranks of the Alliance, but then again, the title of the original first movie in the series suggests it’s not the right time just yet.
When it comes to the visuals, perhaps there are fewer epic scenes than in The Force Awakens, but again, this is because the movie is no longer driving on the ‘memberberry juice of nostalgia of seeing the Millenium Falcon or ‘Chewie, we’re home’ moments. The audience still ended up clapping at cameo-like inserts of classic characters which was basically done with more continuity than keeping up with a decades-old and stale family drama between old Han Solo and Leia.
The music score by Michael Giacchino, a LOST partner of J.J.Abrams’, is probably not as noticeable as the home-hitting omnipresent John Williams’ score of The Force Awakens.
What started for me as an understanding that Disney is milking us for ticket cash every year, now makes me think of the Futurama meme where Fry insists to ‘shut up and take his money’. To me, this movie was more enjoyable than the VII in the series, and I guess this is also due to the fact my expectations were in the exact opposite fields for the two movies.
By Dmitry Medvedenko, TASS Head of English News Service