Rogue One sets the stage for the Star Wars saga

Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso in Rogue One

Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso in Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or simply Rogue One, is a new epic ‘space opera’ film directed by Gareth Edwards. It was written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, based on a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta.

Remember these words? “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

Those were the first words seen in the very first Star Wars film in 1977, now known as Episode IV: A New Hope. In it we were introduced to Darth Vader, Princess Leia, R2-D2, C3-P0, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, and others who lived “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Well, Rogue One tells about the origin of the DEATH STAR, who created it, and how the plans came to be stolen; and oh, yeah, shows us that epic first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. In Rogue One, after the formation of the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance recruits a rebellious yet resourceful young woman named Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to work with a team including Rebel Alliance Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). Together they form a plan to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star.

Mads Mikkelsen plays Galen Erso, Jyn’s father who helped design the Death Star, and, seriously, it wouldn’t be a Star Wars story without “Daddy drama,” now would it?

Other cast members include Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, as nasty a villain as you would want; Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior, awesome in combat and completely in touch with the Force; Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, a re-purposed Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer droid with a unique ‘personality’; Valene Kane as Jyn’s mother, Lyra Erso; and Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus, a freelance assassin.

Saw Gerrera as played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One

Saw Gerrera as played by Forest Whitaker in Rogue One

Forest Whitaker plays Saw Gerrera, a grizzled veteran of the Clone Wars with a shared history with the Ersos. Riz Ahmed plays Bodhi Rook, a former Imperial pilot who made the Alliance aware of the existence of the plans.

James Earl Jones reprises his role as the voice of Darth Vader, and Jimmy Smits reprises his role as Senator Bail Organa. You may see a few more familiar faces. Michael Giacchino scored the film, and did a helluva job! This may be the best non-John Williams score of any film, ever.

The 2-hour, 13-minute film was produced by Lucasfilm and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Rogue One, Rated PG-13 (for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action), opens everywhere in the United States on December 16, 2016. See it soon at your local Carmike Cinema.