Film Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, director Gareth Edwards faces a tricky task of fleshing out the opening crawl and telling a story viewers know the outcome of. Against the odds, Edwards delivers an engaging and thoroughly entertaining film.

Jyn Erso is recruited by the Rebellion to help them discover the background to a powerful new weapon. As she finds out more, Jyn becomes the unlikely leader of an unlikely strike against the Empire…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is essentially the story from Star Wars: A New Hope‘s opening crawl. The film functions as an episode after the prequels (ending with Revenge of the Sith) and before A New Hope. The characters at the heart of the film are new. Edwards and screenwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy must tow a line in not reaching to far into the bookended films, whilst also offering a convincing and complete tale.

The filmmakers produce a memorable film by concentrating on the mission. The characters are developed where they need to be, yet the focus remains of the task ahead. After a timid start, the film finds its feet and propels forward. There are some good set pieces and action amongst the exposition and story development.  However the real treat is the measured build to a wonderful finale third. The climax offers spectacle and tension in abundance. Even though viewers know the outcome, Edwards delivers a memorable conclusion.

Rogue One does not carry humour or lightness in the same way as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This works however, it is a serious blockbuster without being po-faced. The mood suits the  narrative, given the known outcome. Felicity Jones is strong in the central role. She is ably supported by Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, and Ben Mendelsohn. Visuals offer both spectacle and a style in keeping with the original series. Michael Giacchino’s score complimentary of John Williams’ original.

With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Gareth Edwards delivers the type of prequel viewers would no doubt have loved from the 1999-2005 films. This latest film does the franchise proud.

Film Review: Cinderella

CINDERELLA

Kenneth Branagh’s live action version of Cinderella is a visually sumptuous fairy tale. The film’s sentiment might be twee, but it is an entertaining picture.

Ella has a happy childhood with her parents. When her father passes away, Ella must live with her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. Despite her misfortune, Ella does not give up hope…

The latest Disney fairy tale to get an update, Cinderella distinguishes itself from other recent Disney films thanks to its protagonist. Director Kenneth Branagh and writer Chris Weitz have a challenge to update the fairy tale to make it relevant to modern audiences. With Disney’s forthright female protagonists of late, Cinderella seems rather anachronistic.

Branagh chooses to keep the title character true to her animation roots. Cinderella here is not feisty or fiercely independent. Instead, the values which the film eschews are kindness and positivity. On the surface, this may feel a little old fashioned. Nevertheless, the film succeeds in promoting these virtues. Cinderella suggests kindness as a strength, even if it a less overt one.

The film does well to flesh out the title character and that of the prince. These characters are given more depth in this version of Cinderella. The light humour in the film sets the right tone, and key sequences are finely executed. Pacing could have been tighter, but overall the film is an enjoyable watch.

The real star of Cinderella is Sandy Powell’s magnificent costumes. These are opulent and appealing. Dante Ferretti’s production design also adds to the spectacle. The ballroom sequence is a dazzling affair, thanks to the costumes, production design and cinematography. Cate Blanchett is wonderfully hammy as the stepmother. Lily James makes a sweet Cinderella, whilst Richard Madden looks the part as Prince Kit.

Cinderella is the perfect fix for those looking for fairy tale escapism. The film is certainly a feast for the eyes.

Cinderella is released in UK cinemas on 27th March 2015 and will be screened alongside new animated short Frozen Fever.