We're only a week into its release and Gareth Edwards' Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, is already climbing the box office ranks. The film has already topped $350 million globally and its still going strong. However, a larger question still looms. Is Rogue One a worthy entry into the Star Wars universe? Because, like it or not, Disney is opening the flood gates and, much like Marvel's massive expansion, everything we have known and loved about Star Wars is destined to get a drastic make-over.
Set just prior to the opening of George Lucas' 1977 pioneering effort, Episode IV - A New Hope, we're introduced to Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) and his family who are hiding in a remote location. But as members of the Imperial forces bear down on their dwelling, Galen instructs his daughter, Jyn (Felicity Jones), to disappear into a hidden compartment deep in the caves. Galen is taken by the Empire and forced to construct the Death Star, while years later his daughter Jyn works in tandem with the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans to the planet-destroying weapon.
Rogue One opens in an unflattering fashion, relying on lazy dream and flashback sequences to inadequately enhance character development and stir emotions. Soon after, the film introduces its second main character, Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who continues to underwhelm thanks in part to more writing deficiencies and a middling performance. Throughout its first and second acts Rogue One continues to introduce a multitude of new characters that never earn their stripes, but ultimately command your feelings during the film's final showdown. I was all but tuned out going into Rogue One's third act, and then the film suddenly goes into "hyperspace". This small side-story in the grand Star Wars saga delivers a phenomenal knockout punch as its eerily reminiscent overlap with A New Hope takes shape. It's a rewarding conclusion that leaves a sweet memory as the signature score launches into the final credits. Although, I must admit that there many shortcomings evident throughout the film. Enough for me to question Disney's clear intention of watering down this iconic film franchise.