Thursday Night Movie Club
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
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Release Date: 16 December 2016

Director: Gareth Edwards
Felicity Jones
Diego Luna
Alan Tudyk
Donnie Yen
Wen Jiang
Ben Mendelsohn
Guy Henry
Forest Whitaker
Riz Ahmed
Mads Mikkelsen
Valene Kane
Jimmy Smits
Alistair Petrie
Genevieve O'Reilly
Ben Daniels
Paul Kasey
Daniel Naprous
James Earl Jones
Jyn Erso
Cassian Andor
Chirrut ╬mwe
Baze Malbus
Orson Krennic
Governor Tarkin
Saw Gerrera
Bodhi Rook
Galen Erso
Lyra Erso
Bail Organa
General Draven
Mon Mothma
General Merrick
Admiral Raddus
Darth Vader
Darth Vader (voice)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie poster
A battle sequence from Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryIn Star Wars: A New Hope, there is a hint of what happened with the Rebel Alliance in order to obtain the plans for the Empire's new weapon, The Death Star. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tells that story. This is a fantastic film. There are plenty of creative, inventive and very individual characters. The story has intrigue, suspense, action and secret agendas. The dangers are real, as is the mistrust.

Tying the whole complex story together is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Jones is a fantastic actress. Jyn Erso faced many challenges growing up. No one told her the truth, or the whole story. Jones starts the film with deep-seated feelings of abandonment from her parents, Galen(Mads Mikkelsen) and Lyra Erso (Valene Kane) and her guardian Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).

Jyn Erso is angry with the universe and everyone in it. She wants to be left alone. Unfortunately for Jyn, her father, being who he is, and her relationship to Gerrera, for who he became, has made Jyn a valuable asset or pawn depending on one's point of view.

Galen Erso is the Chief Engineer for the Empire. He "reluctantly" agrees to come out of retirement to help finish the grand plan of the Emperor. Gerrera, believing he was betrayed by Galen, has spent his entire life fighting the Imperial Forces. Unfortunately, Gerrera's continued harassment has caused grief for the fledgeling Rebel Alliance.

The Death Star in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryCassian Andor (Diego Luna) has stumbled upon a most devastating secret. The Empire is building a weapon powerful enough to destroy a planet. The space station has been named, "The Death Star". Galen Erso is the chief architect for the weapon. The Rebel Alliance plans to assassinate Erso before the weapon becomes operational.

The intrigue deepens when Gerrera shows Jyn a message her father Galen, recorded a long time ago. Galen faced a terrible dilemma: Stand up for his beliefs and die, or work for the Empire in an attempt to sabotage the weapon. Working for the Empire made Galen a traitor. Except, Galen planted a fault deep within the designs of the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance may be able to use this information to destroy the station. All the Alliance has to do is steal the plans.

Diego Luna and Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryRogue One has one of the most complicated story lines of any movie. The Alliance wants Galen dead. Jyn wants to prove her father's innocence. Cassian Andor has been content to fight the Empire from the shadows, but not really accomplishing anything. Chirrut ╬mwe (Donnie Yen) has all of the skills of a Jedi, except the Jedi were destroyed long ago. Instead, he does his best to guard one of the Jedi temples. Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) has nothing better to do but keep his friend safe.

All of these conflicts come to a head halfway into the film. The characters are forced to decide between what is right, what is easy, and where does loyalty begin and end. Does a failure to act hurt the Rebel Alliance or help it? If an action is taken, does that act help or hurt the Alliance? Do you blindly follow orders or do you blindly follow your instincts? There are no Jedi Knights here to decide the outcome.

Jyn Erso knows her father is innocent. There is only one way to prove it. If the Alliance won't steal the plans, she will. Or die trying. Which leads to the major story that dominates the second half of Rogue One. Andor and many other fighters have been battling the Empire their entire lives, with nothing to show for their efforts. For the first and possibly only time, these men are given the opportunity to make a real difference. No one will remember their names. Everyone will remember what they have done.

Thanks in part to director Gareth Edwards and screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, the very complex story of Rogue One is not difficult to follow. The film starts telling several concurrent stories that all come together at the crucial moment for the Alliance: Stand and fight, or live to die another day?

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryThis is the moment for Jyn Erso and Felicity Jones to stand tall, be brave, and fight for not only what you believe, but what you know is the only option. Jyn knows that it is now or never. Early in the film, Cassian Andor tells Jyn, many revolutions were built on nothing but hope. At the Alliance Council Meeting, Felicty Jones repeats this line her performance is dead serious. Jyn knows that it is now or never. The Alliance will never have this opportunity again.

he Prior to this moment, there were plenty of main characters in Rogue One. After this scene, Felicity Jones performance shows the change when Jyn Erso becomes the leader of the Rebellion. She forces the Empire's hand, and the Alliance's hand. The struggle has reached the tipping point. There is no going back. Everyone follows Jyn Erso. Win everything or lose everything happens now!

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor is another fantastic actor. Andor is a rebel soldier who follows orders. Jyn Erso is an enigma for Andor. Her earnestness in proving her father's innocence slowly causes Andor to question his beliefs. He has been fighting the Empire since he was a small boy. He hasn't made a difference. Luna gives a very passionate speech explaining why he and a small band of fighters are joining Jyn on her mad quest.

The rebel fighters code-named Rogue One in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryIn a throw-back to Han Solo or Indiana Jones, the small band of fighters, calling themselves Rogue One, have a plan. Jyn Erso and Andor will get into the data center and keep moving forward until they have downloaded the plans. The other fighters will distract the Imperial Forces until the plans can be uploaded to a ship in space. That is the whole plan. They are all going to make things up as they go.

Seeing that this is a Star Wars movie, the special effects are amazing. Rogue One outdoes other Star Wars movies with a surprising effect. The Death Star is commanded by Governor Tarkin, a computer-generated Peter Cushing who passed away long ago. Tarkin was voiced by Guy Henry, imitating Cushing perfectly. The effect is unnerving as well as mesmerizing as the character's role has been expanded for Rogue One.

Rogue One, although a serious film, is not without large doses of humor. Most of the jokes are centered around the droid K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. Tudyk's voice talents are wonderful. Nobody ever sees him act, but they hear him act. Tudyk can make a monotone voice funny just by the pacing of each individual word.

During a battle, Jyn Erso shoots a droid that is the same model as K-250. She shoots without thinking. Standing behind the fallen droid is K-250 who calmly asks Jyn, "You knew that wasn't me... right?" Jyn leaves him standing there with his mouth open in disbelief, if he had a mouth to open in disbelief.

The most distinctive element of Rogue One is that every character is well developed and well acted. The audience sympathizes with every character.

Forest Whitaker as Gerrera in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryForest Whitaker's Gerrera starts off as an idealistic freedom fighter. Fifteen years of fighting and losing limbs has taken its toll. He fights because that is all he knows. He has grown distrustful of the Empire and the Alliance. He is a sociopath.

Donnie Yen's performance as Chirrut ╬mwe tugs at the heartstrings of the audience. He is a blind man who totally believes in the Force. "The Force is with me, and I am with the Force," is the mantra he repeats over and over. He may not be a Jedi, but he has all of the skills of a Jedi.

Donnie Yen as Chirrut ╬mwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryAdding a touching bit of humor and pathos is Wen Jiang's role of Baze Malbus. Malbus has nothing better to do but to look after his friend Chirrut ╬mwe. He dutifully stands by his friends side, saving ╬mwe's life on several occasions but never telling him.

The more hands-on George Lucas became with Episodes 1-3, the worse the movies became. J.J. Abrams took the safe route. Rogue One bravely opens up new territories by smashing through the boundaries of the "Star Wars" mythology.

With a strong story, well developed characters and great casting, the galaxy's the limit. More! More! More!