MOVIE REVIEW: Rogue One remains faithful to the franchise
ROGUE One gives me hope that the Star Ward franchise may have a lot more life in it yet.
The George Lucas-produced spin-off tells the story of the Rebellion's mission to steal the plans for the Empire's new top-secret planet destroying weapon called the Death Star.
I found it just as entertaining and enthralling as The Force Awakens. Even though you know the eventual outcome which sets up Lucas's original trilogy, you're still on the edge of your seat waiting to see how the out-numbered and out-gunned rebels will succeed against all odds.
Despite being somewhat disposable considering the film's predetermined outcome and stand-alone design, these characters are still well developed and you become invested in them as they band together against the looming threat.
Felicity Jones brings a youthful spirit to the role of Jyn Erso, who is strong-armed into helping the Alliance because her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is believed to be the Death Star's indispensable chief engineer.
After growing up without either of her parents, she's a drifter with no cause to believe in and is initially wary of the Alliance. She's right to be cautious, as the rebels' plan to kill her father in the hope they can stop the Death Star from being completed.
She is paired up with intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in the hope she can broker a meeting with Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a former member of the Alliance who has become a paranoid, break-away militant.
Jones and Luna have a few sappy moments, mostly towards the end of the movie, but their supporting ensemble cast of Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Riz Ahmed and Alan Tudyk makes up for it.
James Earl Jones is back as the voice of Darth Vader, at this point a very powerful lord of the Empire, and his scenes though they may be few are some of the film's highlights.
The other main highlight is the salty droid K-2SO (voiced by Tudyk) who regularly steals the scenes from his human counterparts.
He has a lot of personality for a droid and thanks to his reprogramming he's a free thinker as far as robots go.
There's no need to worry about this spin-off failing to stand up to the 'proper' films. Rogue One flies high but it is firmly rooted in the expanding Star Wars universe.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Reviewer: Seanna Cronin
Verdict: 4/5 stars