Honouring the franchise
Whisper it: Rogue One is in fact a prequel in that it charts the events leading up to A New Hope. And although we don't like invoking the 'p' word in relation to Star Wars (let's try and forget about the likes of The Phantom Menace), critics are pretty unanimous that this movie does the series justice.
"This spin-off/prequel has the same primitive, lived-in, emotional, loopy, let's-put-on-a-show spirit that made us fall in love with the original trilogy," enthuses Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. "The damn thing is alive and bursting with the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago. Familiar faces, human and droid, make cameos. But not once do you doubt that the new characters are breathing the same air as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and that baddest of badasses, Darth Vader."
Peter DeBruge in Variety says the movie does an excellent job of extending the universe for pre-existing fans: "For the original generation of Star Wars fans who weren't sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, "Rogue One" is the prequel they've always wanted... The sequences that met with the most raucous approval at the world premiere screening were those featuring actions or characters audiences recognised from earlier films (a couple of whom are convincing computer-rendered performances, since the original actors have either died or aged too much to reprise their roles)."
Meanwhile Justin Chang in the Los Angeles Times writes that the movie is both a significant addition to the Star Wars canon and also a hugely entertaining stand-alone experience for newcomers: "A swiftly paced, rough-and-ready entertainment that, in anticipating the canonical events of A New Hope, manages the tricky feat of seeming at once casually diverting and hugely consequential... As the puzzle pieces snap into place, with a level of precision and economy that honours and even transcends the narrative foundation of A New Hope, Rogue One at last finds its own reason for being. For one thrilling final stretch, everything old really is new again."
Move over, C-3PO!
Although several new cast members get rave reviews, Felicity Jones, Donnie Yen and Ben Mendelsohn among them, praise is largely reserved for Alan Tudyk who dons a motion capture suit and steals the show as sharp-tongued droid K-2SO.
Says Peter Howell in Toronto Star: "Most appealing of all is new droid K-2S0, or K-2 for short, a seven-foot-one hulk of ebony hue and abundant energy, voiced by veteran character actor Alan Tudyk, who fusses like C-3PO but wisecracks like Han Solo. He’s likely to become a fast fan favourite, just as BB-8 did in last year’s main series reboot, The Force Awakens."
Rosie Fletcher in Digital Spy agrees: "And new droid K-2SO is ace – if BB8 threatened to steal TFA, Alan Tudduyk's re-wired enforcer droid almost does the same for Rogue One – he's acerbic and even moments which look like they're steering towards sentiment ('I will stand with you, Jyn Erso') are beautifully undermined ('because Cassian told me to.')."
New faces are back!
Forget Darth Vader. OK, don't forget him, but we've known for ages that he's returning for Rogue One. More surprising is the knowledge that certain other faces from A New Hope are turning up including a CGI simulation of late actor Peter Cushing as villainous Grand Moff Tarkin. As if there wasn't enough reason to feel the nostalgia...
"The late Peter Cushing is digitally resurrected as Death Star boss Moff Tarkin," writes Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph, "there’s an eerie nervelessness about the results from certain angles, but given Cushing, a Hammer Horror veteran, exuded an aura of undeath at his professional best, he might be the ideal candidate for the procedure."
And it's not just Cushing who's appearing, as Collin explains...
"More startling still is the flawless, single-shot CG recreation of a young Princess Leia: send your thoughts and prayers to the Beverly Hills facelift clinics about to be engulfed by angry customers demanding whatever Carrie Fisher got."
We'll let all you Star Wars fans pick yourselves up from the floor as you digest this awesome news. However, don't forget to click here and book your tickets for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, opening tomorrow.