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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – grubby and good

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi |

Movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelson, Mads Mikklesen, Forest Whitaker and James Earl Jones
Genre: Science Fiction 
Would you pay to watch a film whose ending you knew well in advance?
That is the burning question Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has to address and while it tries admirably, it ultimately falls just short.
Still, like a wise man once said, “It’s not about the destination, rather the journey.” And Rogue One very much echoes that sentiment for the most part in what is an enjoyable two-hour affair.
Any Star Wars fan worth their salt know what this spin-off’s (If we can call it that) plot is, to steal the plans for the Death Star and get them into Rebel hands.
Set between the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: A New Hope , Gareth Edwards’ directorial isn’t just a filler, rather an important piece in the galactic jigsaw puzzle.
It almost revels in the grimy and grubby nature of the fledgling Rebel Alliance that is struggling to somehow, overcome the gargantuan Empire. Blood, yes blood is spilled freely and the harsh realities of a galaxy at war are forced upon the viewer early on.
The Jedi are understandably extinct (well, almost) and the Sith aren’t in action for majority of the film (more on that later). We find ourselves focusing on Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and their motley crew of interesting individuals who are after the plans Erso’s father (Mads Mikkelsen) has managed to leak. While the whole crew have their own beautiful idiosyncrasies, the reprogrammed Imperial Droid, K-2S0 is the real hero in more ways than one. His lack of a filter (expected from a droid) and ability to save the day is an instantly endearing trait which many will get accustomed. Luna is not your typical captain, unapologetic in his callous ways and suits his role very well, indeed. However, it is Jones, who is almost magnetic with her portrayal of renegade Erso, who draws your attention in almost every scene. She outshines her on-screen father, Mikkelsen, a feat few have managed.
Without a doubt, one can sense the ‘grey’ nature of the protagonists, who don’t shy away from rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty. Loose ends are tied up mercilessly by the Rebels, a trait once solely attributed to the evil Empire.A shocking change, one which may not be welcomed by some fans, but a very pragmatic approach and it works well with the whole theme of Rogue One. No squeaky clean personas and no grand-standing, for everyone is on the clock, which is understandable, considering the risks involved.
The problem lies as mentioned earlier, the endgame. We know what is going to happen which really deflates the tension even in moments when the scene is a cliff-hanger, quite literally!
Even Director Krennic (Ben Mendelson) as the main villain disappoints, almost always blubbering and seems to dull to be menacing at all. It is Grand Moff Tarkinn in his brief scenes who exudes menace with every syllable. The senior Imperial officer makes his subordinate seem silly, even childish at times, with his constant chiding a necessary sentiment, one feels.
And speaking of menace, Darth Vader is there and boy, is it glorious. Crimson Lightsaber et all, his fury is a sight to behold. Like Tarkin, he isn’t on screen for long, but as they say, “Quality over quantity!”
Star Wars fans simply dare not miss it, but for the rest, Rogue One is a generic Sci-Fi thriller which doesn’t justify the hype that has been surrounding it these past few weeks.