Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story presents itself as a 'group on an impossible mission' action picture, but its enthralling moments undoubtedly lie in the intricate balance between unexplored concepts, locales, and creatures and sightings of the familiar. The Force Awakens has sadly grown controversial for diving back into the series' history in spite of its theme of legacy being the entire focus, and Rogue One expands on the innocent child-like wonder of nostalgia by playing with brand new characters right alongside old favorites. As a Star Wars nerd, and I'll spare you the sappy story, this made me laugh and cry and it kept me on the edge of my seat, but the unbridled joy in TFA is dampened, replaced by grit and textural scale. It's a whole new thing in spite of revolving around the original masterpiece, with Gareth Edwards painting a gigantic canvas comprised of lasers, AT-ATs, star destroyers, and the looming horror of a Death Star within its frames. Personality and artistry abound, and it's a testament to Kathleen Kennedy and everyone at Lucasfilm that its vision isn't compromised. It may not have the opening crawl, but Rogue One is still set "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away", and for now, that's enough for me.

Random thoughts:

- Giacchino's score provides a lot of the textural framework for Edwards' ideas even though it was only written in four weeks. It rocks.

- Um.....uh.....that scene with Vader? I cried. A lot. Never have I been so happy to see on-screen murder in all my life. That sounds depraved, but it comes from a place of love.

- Third act essentially becomes Lucas' typical 'three-plane action' climactic set-piece, and Edwards nails the integral parts and their spatial relationships. It's a fucking blast.

- Sweet Jesus, who knew just *seeing* Bail Organa could make me literally shed a tear? Best cameo in the whole thing, and way better than the Tarkin/Leia attempts.

- Speaking of those, Tarkin is fine I guess until he starts walking (then all presence is gone, whoosh, right out the window) but Leia was fucking hilarious. If they really wanted to show her face, they should've worked on it for more than a week. The Uncanny Valley still exists.

- The actual human cast, though? Solid across the board. Could've watched a whole movie with Donnie Yen. Same with Diego Luna. And while I don't want to say Ben Mendelsohn was born to be in a Star Wars movie because that's selling Mendelsohn so fucking short, he's incredible in Rogue One. The Mikkelsen/Mendelsohn showdown should be shown in schools for its sheer badassery and scenery-chewing.

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