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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Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens (2015)

After much pain and agony, it’s finally back!

A lot of events have taken place since The Return Of The Jedi. A major issue occurring is that after a long time of searching, Luke Skywalker is hiding and nobody has any idea of where he is located. Thirty years have gone by since the defeat of the Galactic Empire and the galaxy now faces a new threat, even though it seems as if things were going to start slowing down. Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is the leader of the First Order, which is the new enemy. The Resistance is still in full effect and in order for them to be able to defeat the First Order, they need to find a small droid that holds a map that will lead to Skywalker’s whereabouts. The droid itself is with a young girl named Rey (Daisy Ridley). Along her journey, she meets up with Finn (Jon Boyega), a former Storm Trooper of the First Order that now wants to convert to the Resistance. In order to defeat the First Order and make sure the Resistance stays strong, Rey and Finn have to make sure this droid stays by their side.

It’s been quite a while since the release of the last Star Wars movie. I waited a little while to write my review because I wanted everyone to kind of calm down somewhat about how awesome this new installment actually was. I actually had to see it twice because I needed to find out if I was just happy because it was back. The fact remains that director, J.J. Abrams really did something awesome with this movie. The last three movies are considered to be disasters by many people and that is what really had me worried about this new movie, but I thought Abrams did everything right with this. As excited as I was for this release, I tried so hard to not have high expectations, due to the fact that the last three were not all that good. Fortunately, I am pleased to say that The Force Awakens is an absolute must-see film. Movie theaters are going to be packed with people for a few more weeks to come.

All in all, I think we can say that this might be the best installment that Star Wars has offered us. I just felt like everything about this movie worked and worked well. I even really enjoyed the acting in this. Daisy Ridley kind of came out of nowhere with this movie and she pretty much killed it, but in a great way. This is the kind of acting I really enjoy to see because everything about it was surprising and great. The number one person who shocked me more than anybody else was Adam Driver. Having know he was going to play the role of Kylo Ren, I was very skeptical about what to think. I wasn’t sure if he was going to ruin this movie or pull off something great. The only way I can really picture that guy is in HBO’s, Girls, saying “Hannah I’m sick of your shit.” Driver really showed that he can be a bit of a bad-ass and play the part well. He had a great voice for the role, so I believe that this was definitely the right move to cast him.

It seems as if many people have some issues about everything with Harrison Ford being in this and how it kind of takes you back to the way everything was in 1983. I didn’t mind that as much because I really liked how everything was tied in with him, Princess Leia, and Kylo Ren. I loved who this movie was filled with tons of energy from start to finish. Even though this movie was not all that original and did not really present a whole new idea, J.J. Abrams really stuck to what the fans of Star Wars wanted to see and I really cannot complain about that. I left one hundred percent satisfied with this film. What had me the most excited was that this movie could have been a total disaster and it wasn’t in the least bit. The Force Awakens has probably been seen by most of the world by now, but if you haven’t seen it yet, or if you are interested in getting into the Star Wars films, this may be a great way for you to do that.

Overal, The Force Awakens does everything in its power to please and entertain the fans of Star Wars. With great directing, acting, and effects, I cannot wait to see what the next installment has in store for us.

Grade: A