Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Former scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones). Galen and his wife are just trying to raise their daughter and have her grow up in a peaceful environment. That is until everything spirals out of control and the evil Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) takes him away from his family. After many years have passed, Galen is now the Empire’s lead engineer for the most dangerous weapon the galaxy has to offer, the Death Star. Knowing her father is the only one who knows how to destroy the Death Star, Jyn joins forces with Diego (Cassian Andor) and a Droid by the name of K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) to fight against the resistance and give “Hope” to the Empire.

When people ask me about Star Wars films and if is necessary to watch the others before watching a new one; I always respond with yes. Only for the obvious reason of being able to fully understand the story and follow along as it goes. After seeing Rogue One, I can gladly tell you to not worry about seeing other Star Wars films before this one. Even though this movie is essentially a prequel to A New Hope, it still acts as a standalone movie, which is one of the major reasons why this film succeeded in every way. Starting a franchise with now eight films may seem incredibly intimidating to someone who isn’t a movie nerd, like me, but I strongly believe that after seeing Rogue One you will happily look forward to watching A New Hope.

Rogue One is the new standalone film of the Star Wars franchise that we have not been used to seeing. Gareth Edwards gave us a film that often became dark and depressing, but still provided us with enough action to leave the theater more than impressed. The casting was great and I especially liked how much of Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO droid reminds us of C3PO with the humor. It would have been nice to see more of Mendelsohn as a character because he is just incredible in everything he is in, but we have to take what we’re given here. Jones really impressed me with her lead character because I wasn’t all that sure this was the right role for her considering others where she’s been the lead or somewhat of a lead character. Gladly she pulled this off and was fun to watch. I was all for Riz Ahmed being casted in this movie after seeing his performance in The Night Of, but he is not very memorable because his scenes are limited in Rogue One.

From the beginning of the movie they let us know that this was going to separate itself from the “Star Wars Movies” to the “Star Wars Stories.” Rogue One leaves you with a mark of its own and even though it is not the “fan pleaser” that The Force Awakens was it still should be more than satisfying to any Star Wars fan. This film is one that even if the other Star Wars movies do not exist, you could leave saying that was a really good movie. And that’s exactly what I love about this movie. The fact that we can put this movie by itself and it is becoming just as much of a success as other Star Wars films is something that is making me very excited for what is happening with this Star Wars franchise. Seeing what’s in store for the next “Star Wars Story” movie is something that I really look forward to and if it’s anything like Rogue One, it will be an awesome flick.

Overall, Rogue One is intriguing, exciting and at often times dark, but still delivers on what you would want to see from a Star Wars film even though its stands by itself. Rogue One is filled with well-written and well-acted characters that leave you with probably the most memorable Star Wars film to date.

Grade: A

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Nightcrawler (2014)

Want to see Jake Gyllenhaal at his best? Nightcrawler might be one you should check out. Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a weird, sociopathic man who is living in Los Angeles, California. He steals a lot of parts from construction sites and tries to sell them for money. While Lou is out and about one night, he comes across a car accident. While looking at the cars, we see a man come speeding by with a camera in his hand (Bill Paxton). Lou finds out that he can make some serious money by filming these crime scenes and selling the footage to news stations. Lou wants to star doing thing, but he knows he will need some help going about this. He finds an assistant, Rick (Riz Ahmed) to help him. The way Lou goes about filming his footage is in a very risky and dangerous way. All the scenes are being set up in his favor for good footage. Lou will do whatever it takes to get the best possible footage he can get, even if that means doing some illegal things.

Nightcrawler is a very fun and energetic movie. The whole movie is just crazy. Jake Gyllenhaal gave the performance of his career as Lou Bloom. Gyllenhaal is never one who steers away from taking on these dark roles. He is in his right element here and excels with this performance. Gyllenhall did not receive an Oscar nomination for this. He was absolutely snubbed! This was one of my favorite acting performances of 2014. I thought Gyllenhaal was the reason why this movie was as good as it was.

This movie gives us a creepy character who makes you very interested in him. Nightcrawler is directed by Dan Gilroy. Gilroy gives us something to really enjoy and have fun with. We saw Lou Bloom as nothing but a sociopath. The cinematography of this film is absolutely awesome. The whole story was very interesting and I think if you watch it you will understand what was so interesting about it.

Nightcrawler really takes you into serious crime reporting in Los Angeles. There was some minor things I may have changed with the movie, but it did feel pretty awesome the way it was. This is a great thriller that I think a lot of people will enjoy. This movie is just a lot of fun to watch. Lou Bloom is absolutely insane and was such an interesting character to watch.

Overall, Nightcrawler is a movie that is a great thriller and gives you an awesome movie watching experience. The acting was superb and the editing was awesome. I definitely think this is one you should check out.

Grade= B+ (Very Good!)