(US - 2016)
Directed by Gareth Edwards. Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy. Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O'Reilly, Alistair Petrie, Fares Fares, Valene King, Anthony Daniels, Spencer Wilding, Daniel Naprous, Guy Henry, Paul Kasey, Warwick Davis, Ingvild Deila, Ian McIlhinney, Michael Smiley, Angus MacInnes, Drewe Henley, voices of James Earl Jones, Stephen Stanton. (PG-13, 134 mins)
The first standalone STAR WARS film chronicles the events leading up to Princess Leia getting the plans for the Death Star at the beginning of A NEW HOPE back in 1977. ROGUE ONE had a notoriously troubled production, with a major script overhaul by BOURNE series screenwriter Tony Gilroy, who was also rumored to have supervised extensive reshoots, with a particular focus on the last 30 minutes, after no one was satisfied with director Gareth Edwards' rough cut. Indeed, many shots and some dialogue ("I rebel") from the first teaser trailer are nowhere to be seen and heard in the finished film, and with three credited editors along with an "additional editing" credit for veteran Stuart Baird, who's long had a reputation as Hollywood's go-to guy to work his magic in salvaging a wreckage, it's obvious to anyone schooled in today's cinema that the making of ROGUE ONE was far from smooth sailing (post-production ended on November 28, 2016, 18 days before the film's release date). Edwards, whose MONSTERS was a monster movie with very little in the way of monsters, and whose GODZILLA relegated Godzilla to little more than a cameo, is a director who takes unpredictability to a detrimental extreme. He seems to go out of his way to avoid giving the audience what they came to see, and for some reason, this has earned him accolades. Right from the start, it's apparent that Edwards is attempting to make ROGUE ONE his own by not including the iconic opening crawl that's been a staple of the STAR WARS canon for nearly 40 years.