The most anticipated film of my life - the next instalment of Star Wars. It couldn't be worse than the prequels - could it?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This was the first anthology film set in the Star Wars universe. This was going to be a major film in the franchise. It will either be a significant addition to the franchise, or will be a flop and cast doubt on Disney's intentions. I personally decided to read very little about the film itself before i went to see it as i wanted to enjoy it for what it was. However, i was happy to read the prequel novel.
Rogue One: Catalyst
This book is set a number of years before the film. It concentrates on Jyn's Parents, and their relationship with Krennic. Jyn is very young in the book and doesn't really play any significant role.
The Death Star is being constructed, but it still needs its formidable weapon. Krennic plans to hire Galen Eros, a scientist with a speciality in crystals. He is working on a planet which is overthrown in a coup and jailed, along with his pregnant wife. Jyn is soon born, and Krennic manages to rescue them.
A lot of political wranglings happen with the eventual outcome of Galen building the new super weapon for the Empire.
The book finishes with Ersos escaping with Saw Gerrera and living on the planet Lah'mu.
While the book laid out some important elements to the film, it was a fairly dull book. James Luceno also wrote the book Tarkin - a book that didn't need to be written. I just don't like his writing style and found parts of this book to drag and not enhance the story at all.
I am glad a read it, and glad i did it before the film, as Galen and Lyra Erso were not fully explained. However, it didn't really impact the film for me.
As this was going to be a big film, we opted to go and see it in a 4D cinema. For those that are not aware of what this is, its a cinema that moves the chairs, blows air, sprays water at you and is in 3D. I have never done 4D before, and while it worked in some areas (space flight scenes - with the moving chairs), i am not a fan and will not be using 4D in the future. It was too much of a distraction.
The film is all about getting the Death Star battle plans. Before people say it, many Bothans dies getting the plans to the second death star, not this one. First and foremost, this is a war movie. It has a VERY different feel to it compared to other Star Wars films. For starters, non non of the main cast is a force user (one may be force sensitive, but is not a Jedi). Yes, Vader is in the film, and he does have a lighsaber, but he is not one of the main cast. This film is gritty and bad things happen. For example, to help him escape, Cassian kills an informant at the beginning of the film. This clearly states we are seeing a different type of Star Wars film.
Jyn and Cassian are teamed together to find and extract Galen Erso. This happens because Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire to deliver a message to Saw Gerrera on Jedha. Jyn and Cassian team up with others for the mission, the reprogrammed droid K-2SO, Spiritual warrior Chirrut Imwe and mercenary Baze Malbus. They get to Bodhi, but the planet is attacked by the Death Star, and a demonstration of its power. Here we see a computer generated Tarkin.
The message from Galen states he has added a flaw to the Death Star, and that they should get the plans. This is the information used in Star Wars to point out the vulnerability. So the team heads off to get the plans from the planet Scarif. This is where a large battle takes place, both on the ground and in space.
The film ends with the plans being handed over to Princess Leia and a short time later, A New Hope starts. All neatly tied together.
This is a great film and i am more than happy to watch it again when it comes out to buy. There were lots of nods to the rest of the series so far, including the Rebels TV series. A highlight for me was seeing Princess Leia as she was in the original films. A few days later Carrie Fisher dies. The CG effects for here were good, but you could still tell it was CG, and i was glad it was just for a short time. Tarkin was obviously another CG character. He was used a lot more in the film and i could not shale the feeling that there was something off with him. Don't get me wrong, it was some amazing work and i think it enhanced the film, but something was off.
The pacing was just about right and tension was there. As this was a one off movie, there was no guarantees that anyone would survive. This increased my enjoyment more in a strange way, as i was sad when certain characters were killed off.
I loved how this integrated closely with a New Hope. Even if it did raise some eyebrows about some of the content in A New Hope.
There were some issues. Vader's killing spree looked great, but just highlights the low energy in A New Hope. A lot of the trailer shots were not in the movie. Great, may see an extended edition. However, i do not think that will happen as they would contradict the main story. The rest were minor, but i may spot more when i see it again.
All in all, a great story.