The first of Disney’s Star Wars spinoffs has finally arrived, ready to excite and thrill fans, or simply frustrate them. Which side of the line you fall on will depend on your opinion of the film, as well as your opinion of the idea of spinoffs.
Set before the adventures of A New Hope, the film follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter of a scientist forced to help design the Death Star. Upon discovering that her father hid a fault in the Death Star, she joins a group of resistance fighters to try to steal the spaceship’s plans and deliver them to the Rebel Alliance.
Re-entering the original era of Star Wars is exciting, if to be approached with a little trepidation. Many of the traditional Star Wars themes are present, including a strong emphasis on family ties and issues, ensuring you know that, despite the lack of many familiar characters, you are definitely back in a galaxy far far away (even if there’s no opening crawl to elaborate).
The film provides a fun adventure, with the eclectic band of characters at the centre of it keeping it engaging and fresh. It successfully immerses you in their story, not falling into the trap of hoping out for a sighting of Luke or Han. Some of the original characters do appear, providing fun moments and surprises. Some appear in cameo form, others more central to the plot such as the return of Darth Vader (the depiction of whom you may or may not question) and, more prominently, Grand Moff Tarkin (even if Peter Cushing’s CGI re-rendering is a little unnerving).
The acting is solid on all parts, with Felicity Jones leading the way as another head-strong and independent heroine for young girls to look up to. However, despite Jones’ best efforts, Jyn is a little lacking in character and isn’t given many moments to explore her in more depth. The film is more preoccupied with the characters’ missions than the characters themselves, which is what holds the film back from standing up there with the Star Wars greats.
It has bittersweet, but necessary, moments, and a brilliant ending, all of which help to make it worthy of joining the Star Wars canon. Seeing it on the day of Carrie Fisher’s death made it all the more heartwarming and heart-wrenching, and is a reminder of what the franchise means to the world.
It wasn’t exactly necessary, but it’s a great story to be told that answers some of the questions you may not have known you had about the original trilogy. It doesn’t reach the heights of the main episodes, but it earns its place alongside them.