‘You don’t have to be a fan of the franchise to enjoy ‘Rogue One,’ says producer Kathleen Kennedy

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” releases in theaters Friday.

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A relatable film about a bunch of dissatisfied citizens fighting a corrupt empire, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is the perfect introduction to a franchise, which has generated billions of dollars and garnered millions of fans. A perfect prequel to George Lucas’ immensely popular 1977 “Star Wars” movie, it’s bound to start a marathon viewing, for the less enlightened, of the subsequent films.

“This could be a real introduction to the whole franchise for many people who haven’t necessarily followed it or for younger people who don’t know much about ‘Star Wars,” shares the film’s producer Kathleen Kennedy.null

Coming so soon after the box-office success of last December’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the plot revolves around the formation of the Rebel Alliance and their mission to stop the Empire from building a super weapon known as the Death Star.

With a female protagonist at the wheel, this backstory introduces Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of a famous scientist, and a group of rebels who are all from different backgrounds, but have one shared goal, which is a belief in a good future for the world. They include an intelligence officer called Cassian (Diego Luna), Chirrut, a blind monk played by Donnie Yen, the trigger-happy Baze (Jiang Wen), a cargo pilot called Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and K-2SO, a robot with attitude played by Alan Tudyk. The film follows the dissatisfied group as they attempt to find the architect of the Death Star. A moon-sized space station with the ability to destroy an entire planet, this gigantic battleship was eventually destroyed in the 1977 film “Star Wars: A new Hope.”

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An edgier, grittier version, “Rogue One” enjoys the luxury of familiarity. Brilliantly striking the balance between what is familiar to fans and taking the universe in a new direction, there’s a nostalgic charm die-hard fans will appreciate as it welcomes back many characters, including the head of the rebel senate Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly returns to the role) and Jimmy Smits who reprises his role as Bail Organa. The new characters are also diverse and likeable, so it’s easy to root for their progress as they go into battle and ultimately face off against the caped villan Orson Krennic. Played by Ben Mendelsohn, he’s the director of Advanced Weapon Research for the military and is obsessed with making the super-weapon (the Death Star) a reality.

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Unlike a lot of traditional sci-fi flicks, the film doesn’t have a complex plot. It’s wholesome entertainment as we see characters from the future films including the ominous enemy Darth Vader, and the white-armored Stormtroopers who all glide back onto a screen so crammed with pyrotechnic effects as it balances bloodshed with charm and spectacle.  It’s a film that delivers plenty of exciting duels and space combat while also serving up some nice comedic moments (kudos to K-2SO snarky one-liners). A far more visually outstanding movie, thanks to the progress of computer graphics, the fight sequences are well-choreographed space battles.

Director Gareth Edwards has maintained a frenzied pace throughout the film with spectacular settings, stunning modeled ships sailing the stratosphere and ingenious effects and characters. Along with his band of cinematic wizards, he’s conjured up a film that’s guaranteed to satisfy any “Star Wars” enthusiast and draw in more fans.

“We had a license to be different on this movie and take a risk,” adds Edwards whose previous films include Monsters and Godzilla. “What I wanted to do was make ‘Rogue One’ more natural, more realistic and a little more organic.”

Rogue One has impressive space battles

The “Star Wars” space saga has established a pact with its audience and there are millions of people anxiously awaiting this galactic odyssey. Although this film won’t win its cast an Oscar for acting, when it comes to art direction and special effects, it’s certain to snag a few technical accolades.

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at samantha.ofole@caribpress.com

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