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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 22, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Feels Like You've Seen It All Before

THE FIRST ‘STAR WARS’ movie in 1977 is “A New Hope”, and “Rogue One” is the immediate prequel that leads into that. British director Gareth Edwards and his scriptwriters get the story of “Rogue One” from an important information in the original movie and makes it the core of their new movie. This is the fact that the Evil Empire’s Death Star, a super weapon that can demolish entire planets, has a secret fatal weakness. “Rogue One” aims to explain how the plans for the Death Star came into the hands of the Rebel Alliance.

The characters in “Rogue One” are involved in a suicide mission that aims to retrieve that vital information needed to destroy the Death Star. This ragtag group of heroes who band together will remind you of past war movies that have a similar mission, like “Dirty Dozen” and “Suicide Squad”.

The lead character is Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones who’s so busy this year as we just saw her with Tom Hanks in “Inferno” and as the dying mom in “A Monster Calls”. The movie starts with her as a child when she became orphaned after stormtroopers killed her mom and arrested her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen of “Hannibal” on TV), a scientist who went into hiding after he realized that the Evil Empire was up to some deadly mischief.

Galen was captured by Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), so he can finish his work on the Death Star. When Jyn grows up, the rebel forces seek her help to lead them to Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a rebel leader working hard to topple the Evil Empire.

Jyn meets other characters like Cassian (Diego Luna), a rebel officer; Bodhi (Riz Ahmed), a defector from the Evil Empire who has a message for Galen; Chirrut (Donnie Yen), a blind swordsman; and Baze (Wen Jiang), a guardian of a temple that has been demolished. These characters are basically archetypes that help forward the plot and get to participate in the action scenes. But the most important character seems to be an Imperial droid that has been reprogrammed to help the rebels, K2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk).

The one in charge of the Death Star is Grand Moff Tarkin, played in the original film by Peter Cushing, who’s long been dead, so he is resurrected here through CGI by the visual effects team along with a very young Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Another iconic villain is revived, Darth Vader, once again voiced by James Earl Jones.

“Rogue One” is really structured more as a war movie, complete with dogfights in outer space and battle scenes that are reminiscent of guerilla warfare in World War II flicks. The bad guys here are so dumb and don’t even get to deduce that the rebels have figured out something that prompts them to attack and engage in the big battle with so many loud explosions on land and on the air.

Felicity’s Jyn is quite energetic but we honestly prefer Daisy Ridley who handled the role of Rey with more spunk and panache in last year’s “The Force Awakens”, which is a sequel to the original trilogy where JJ Abrams manages to break some new ground. Both are English actresses, which makes you wonder if they can’t recruit any American actresses for these roles.

“Rogue One” really lacks heart and you really don’t get to sympathize that much with the characters. Maybe they should have exploited more the romantic angle between Jyn and Cassian. And they could have added more humor, like Chirrut and Baze’s friendship being explored more so they can further win the hearts of the viewers. As it is, the droid K-2SO seems more lovable than them. You feel you’ve seen it all before and, honestly, the force doesn’t seem to be really with them.