This crowd pleasing action adventure is not one of the episodes in the classic Star Wars series, but the first in a new anthology trilogy that takes place in the Star Wars universe. And although it veers from the Skywalker family story line, there are references to those characters and plot points, and even appearances by a few well known classic Star Wars characters.
VIDEO: 5 Reasons to See 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'
Set just before the original 1977 film, Rogue One is a classic tale of a motley, loveable crew of characters who band together for a cause—think The Magnificent Seven in space. Only instead of revenge, this is a mission to save the universe by stealing a key part of the evil Empire’s Death Star to halt its ability to destroy planets. It has everything hard core Star Wars fans want—a feisty heroine, comic relief, quirky and unlikely heroes, incredible sets, and a soaring score. All in all, it’s a fun escape and a film that the whole family can enjoy over the holidays. Read on for the top five reasons you need to see it as soon as it hit theaters on Friday, Dec.16. (Warning: Mild spoilers below.)
1. FELICITY JONES
She may have the face of a fragile English rose, but as Jyn Erso, the sassy leader of a pack of rebels, Felicity Jones kicks ass, takes names and looks damn cool doing it. From her bomber jacket and cargo pants, to her leather ammunition belts and chunky boots, she gives Daisy Ridley (as Rey in The Force Awakens) a run for her money as a feisty, smart, soulful female heroine to be reckoned with. Like Ridley’s character, she too was abandoned as a child and wraps her wounds in a passion to do good.
2. APPEARANCES BY ORIGINAL STAR WARS CHARACTERS
Although it’s not part of the regular series, there are still some fun appearances here by classic characters. A very beloved original character makes a key cameo (I won’t spoil it here) as does C-3PO and a few others, while Darth Vader has a significant part and is as impressive with a light saber as ever. The premiere audience I was in clapped and screamed whenever any of these classic characters appeared onscreen, adding to the excitement.
3. THE COMIC RELIEF SIDEKICK
Filling the role of C-3PO, R2-D2, and BB-8 before him is a reformed Imperial droid named K-2SO (played by Alan Tudyk) whose well timed quips bring welcome humor amidst all the seriousness and sincerity. He has a penchant for self deprecating sarcasm and cheerfully citing statistics that nobody wants to hear—such as the likelihood of everyone being killed. “I’m not feeling very optimistic about our odds,” he remarks dryly. There are also plenty of the fantastical Star Wars-ian creatures we have come to love and expect—the furry Chewbacca types, humans with distorted and exaggerated features, cool, curious hybrids of say, man and squid, monkey and bear or human and fish—as seen in the film’s many bar scenes, bazaars, jails and arenas.
4. THE MOTLEY CREW OF REBELS
The rag-tag squad on a mission is a mainstay of adventure films, but Rogue One takes it to a whole new level. Along with Casian Ander (played by Diego Luna, who serves as a semi love interest), Jyn (Jones) leads a group of super quirky rebels to steal a key part of the Death Star that will allegedly render it useless. My favorite of this group is Chirrut Imwe (played by Donnie Yen), a blind warrior monk who believes in The Force and wreaks havoc with his sword on enemies he can’t even see. There’s also the nervous former Imperial pilot turned informant, Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed) and the lovable, bearded thug with a mega gun Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen).
5. THE AWESOME SETS
Let’s face it, one of the things we love about Star Wars is its fantastical worlds and quirky planets—many of them a funky, magical juxtaposition of primitive and earthy with futuristic and sleek. There’s Jyn’s desolate home planet where dwellers are desert nomads who live in houses with push button doors and high tech control panels. There’s the crazy trading posts with rustic, almost primitive wares next to high tech weapons. There are insane spaceships, fighter jets, holograms, and dark, deep canyons with crazy staircases a la M.C. Escher. The most impressive land in this film is arguably the island of Scarif, an Imperial Security Complex where palm trees sway over sandy beaches and turquoise waters surround a giant black tower that houses a massive weapon of destruction.