Viewed – 29 December 2016 Cinema
George Lucas’ shock sale of his beloved Star Wars to Disney seemed like a concern at one stage. Yet considering the work he’d done delivering three prequels that seemed to focus more on CGI than gripping narratives with fully fleshed out characters … perhaps it was time for another company to try their hand? The result? Well we got The Force Awakens and the rest as they say, is history. Or is it? The proposed continuation of the saga was also going to have a series of spin-off movies focusing on plots away from but connected to the main saga. So despite that last movie’s un-argued success in bringing back a once treasured franchise … it could still all go tits up.
Jyn is the daughter of a scientist who at the beginning of this movie gets taken away to work on the Empire’s latest weapon. Yes Daddy is helping build the death star. Cue fifteen years after and Jyn is all grown up and seeking out the rebellion and the man who rescued her after her father was taken. However along the way she befriends a reluctant assassin (Diego Luna) and his sarcastic droid and also a defected imperial pilot (Riz Ahmed). Turns out there’s a mission to steel the plans to the death star in hope of finding a weak point, and so sets forth a sort of inter-galactic dirty dozen and boy, was I along for the ride.
A different beast to The Force Awakens but every bit as polished and entertaining, this boasts several stunning battle sequences that possibly eclipse that movie and strong performances, especially from newcomer Felicity Jones and her band of brothers, including a blind monk played by martial arts supremo Donnie Yen. The movie plays itself rather serious for the most part but still finds time for gentle in-jokes and plenty of ‘was that…?’ and ‘hey that’s…!’ visual nods to Star Wars of yester-year. Effects work is some of the best I’ve seen this year, even down to a shockingly real (sorry…spoilers) recreation of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin from the very first movie (apart from those eyes…). Add to this perfect set design, costumes and some gorgeous cinematography and well, this had my jaw hitting my lap on a regular basis. That much loved mysticism of Star Wars, especially the force, Jedi’s etc. seemed pushed aside however in favor of a more gritty ‘mission’ structure. It also has to be said, some of the support characters were under-developed.
This could have been just a simple cash-in. Yet director Gareth Edwards has made an inspired ‘alternative take’ on a familiar franchise and delivers a loving celebration at the same time. So if you hadn’t figured it out already – I loved this.
Verdict: 5 /5