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The first stand alone Star Wars Anthology film, set shortly before the original Star Wars: after the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance recruits Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to work with a team including Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s new super-weapon, the Death Star.

Review by Andrew L. Urban
Turbo charged nostalgia and relentless action distinguish this spectacular return to a galaxy far far away, partly because it is set so close to the era of the original edition so long long ago (1977) – and partly because … well a couple of nice surprises. The force, as in George Lucas and Lucasfilm, is very much with the filmmaking team, even though they are not so much hands on as guiding spirits.

The plot is straight forward and could be transported to any other time, and any other place where human nature (however armed) sets up camp. What is special is the storytelling; the ‘how’ we are involved and engaged by the characters, their mission and the challenges they face. The film begins with an astonishingly fine piece of casting in which we meet a young girl (Dolly Gadsdon & Beau Gadsdon) who we instantly recognise as the young Jyn – Felicity Jones.(Those who have a mental image of Felicity Jones that is…) In this establishment sequence we also meet her dad, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who plays a vital role in the plot as the designing engineer of the death-star for the authoritarian Galactic Empire … but there is more to this piece of the jigsaw.

Felicity Jones is the heroine and star (yes, an empowered girl), but Diego Luna also captures our attention as Cassian, the young rebel who partners with her on the dangerous mission to steal the plans – digital, of course - for the Death Star. With a cast like this, cinematographer Greig Fraser can make the most of eye-lights to ensure we get the emotional messages as well as the story. For example, the father – daughter relationship is an important platform for the film’s gravitas. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, blue eyes like frosted diamonds cutting the mustard as hard hearted Orson Krennic, the Empire Commander we love to hate, turning in a meaningful baddie.

Technically brilliant, Rogue One delivers the spectacle and the aerial combat that are such signatures of the Star Wars ethos, with some eye pleasing vistas of a hectic part of the stunningly beautiful universe.

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(US, 2016)

CAST: Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudtk, Forest Whitaker, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Genevieve O'Reilly

VOICES: James Earl Jones

PRODUCER: Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, Tony To

DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards

SCRIPT: Chris Weitz


EDITOR: Jabez Olssen

MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Doug Chiang, Neil Lamont

RUNNING TIME: 133 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 15, 2016

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