Since their acquisition of the Star Wars licence back in 2012, much has been discussed about Disney’s decision to make a third trilogy of films, the first of which – Star Wars: The Force Awakens – came out last year to a very positive critical and commercial reception. As the new films will be released two years apart, the plan has also been to have standalone movies in the years between, so that there’s at least one Star Wars release every year, and the first of these is this one-off story depicting the events immediately prior to the very first film in the series, 1977’s original Star Wars. Free from the narrative constraints of a telling a wider epic saga, it’s a strong film in its own right but also bodes well for Disney’s future plans in terms of broadening the scope of the franchise’s tone and target audience.

It’s essentially a war film, with a grim and depressingly realistic approach to large-scale combat, and a willingness to kill off main characters with reckless abandon. While very young audiences might find the whole thing more than a little upsetting, it’s quite encouraging to see Disney willing to acknowledge that there is an older audience they can cater to with this franchise who have an appetite for a more mature, serious approach to the material. The film boasts some of the very best action set pieces out of all the movies so far, and only a desire to stick to recognisable characters and iconography hold it back. This is perhaps most obvious¬†due to a very ill-conceived decision to revive deceased actors through the use of CGI, but the more Disney strike out into newer stories and bolder tones the more legs this cinematic universe will have.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
A very promising first standalone film in the Star Wars universe9
The decision to go for a darker tone suggests that not all these films will feel the same9
The decision to resurrect actors using not-quite-perfect CGI, and a general slavish approach to established material6
The scale and execution of the action sequences, particularly the last half hour10
The hope that Disney can continue to stretch the limitations of this franchise9
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • I'm pretty sure they talk about something other than men for a bit
Bechdel test failures
  • n/a
9Overall Score

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