action, comic book, movie, movie review, thriller

Flashback Review: April 4th, 2014 Movie – The Dark Knight Rises

the dark knight rises

So how do you top The Dark Knight. I mean, that is almost comic movie perfection there and it will definitely be a hard task. Well, Christopher Nolan gave it his best shot when he made the third movie in his trilogy. Now when I first started hearing about this movie, the main thing people were talking about was that the main villain would be Bane. Last time we saw him int he movies, he was a joke of a character in the tragic Batman & Robin, so it was obvious that any attempt of rebooting the character would be an improvement. Anyways, Bane’s involvement got me interested but I didn’t get around to actually seeing the movie when it first came out, waiting several months before finally getting around to seeing it. Now, let’s see how well this trilogy ended as I watch The Dark Knight Rises.

The plot: 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent, a CIA agent is at a small airfield in Uzbekistan awaiting an oncoming jeep. When the jeep stops, he greets Dr. Pavel and has him get inside but stops when the military men in the jeep bring out three bound and hooded prisoners. The agent says they don’t have orders for them but when the officer says that they work for Bane, he phones it in to his superiors and agrees to bring them with him. As the plane is leaving the country, the agent opens the back door and tries questioning them about Bane only for it to be revealed that Bane is actually one of the prisoners. As the agent questions Bane, Another plane flies over his and Bane’s men jump out and begin attacking the smaller plane. Attaching cables to the smaller plane, the larger plane is able to take control of it and Bane and his men are able to capture Dr. Pavel, substituting a fake body to die in his stead, and make their escape as the smaller plane crashes. In Gotham City, Mayor Anthony Garcia is giving a speech for the annual Harvey Dent Celebration, which is being held at Wayne Manor. He introduces Commissioner Gordon, who has written a speech detailing what really happened with Dent and Batman, as well as his resignation, but he decides the city is not ready to hear it. As some of the guests wonder about whether Bruce Wayne will make an appearance at the event, rumors swirl as to why he has become a recluse the last several years. Alfred instructs Selena Kyle, one of the waitresses for the event, to take a tray of food to the east drawing room, then he goes and tells Miranda Tate, who had been developing a fusion reactor for Wayne Enterprises before Wayne cancelled the project. , that Wayne won’t see her. John Daggett, a business rival of Wayne’s, asks her why she insists on trying to see him when he failed to develop her idea but she says he wouldn’t understand her interest. Meanwhile, Selina is looking around the drawing room when she encounters Bruce, who comments on the pearl necklace she is wearing and how it looks like the one his mother used to have, which is in the safe that now seems to be open. Selina mock apologizes, then kicks the cane out of Bruce’s hand, causing him to fall, and she jumps out the window, catching a ride in Congressman Bryon Gilley’s car. Later that night, Officer John Blake finds Gordon on the roof of the station and tells him that Gilley’s wife called saying he hasn’t come home yet, then asks him about the night Batman supposedly killed Dent. Meanwhile, Bruce examines the safe and notices that it had been dusted for prints and the next day, Alfred finds him in the Batcave looking up information about Selina. Alfred admonishes Bruce for not moving on with his life but Bruce is interested in why Selina wanted to steal his fingerprints. Elsewhere, Blake arrives at the scene of a dead body and realizes that he recognizes the kid as one of the kids from the orphanage he grew up in. Heading over there, he learns that the orphanage doesn’t have the resources it once did since the Wayne Foundation stopped donating money. He then talks to the victim’s brother to find out why he was down there and the boy says that there is talk of work being down there. That night, Selina takes Gilley with her as she meets with Phillip Stryver, Daggett’s assistant/vice president and the man who hired her to get the prints. Selina hands him the sheet with 4 of the prints but threatens to kill her instead of giving her what she wanted in exchange. Selina has him text her partner, who brings the last print, and after she leaves, Stryver motions to have her killed but Selina informs him points out Gilley and says that the phone he had used was his. The police arrive and a shoot out occurs and Selina is able to escape in the confusion. As more police arrive, the men head into the sewers and Gordon leads 3 men down there after them but the men are killed in an explosion while Gordon is captured. Blake wants to go in after Gordon but Peter Foley, Gordon’s second in command, ignores him and instead tries to get things organized so they can come up with a plan, but Blake has a feeling he knows where Gordon might end up and leaves the scene. In the sewers, Gordon is taken to where Bane is hiding, and he kills one of the men that brought him there for panicking. He orders the other man to search Gordon and he finds the speech and hands it to Bane. As Bane reads the speech, Gordon rolls down into the rushing water and is carried away, but is wounded as Bane’s men shoot at him. Bane orders his men to find him, placing a tracker in the other man who brought Gordon there, then shoots him and shoves him into the water so his men can follow him and find Gordon but Gordon is found by Blake, who went to where the kid was found earlier, and manages to get him to the hospital. The next day, Blake goes to see Bruce and tells him about Gordon being shot, as well as the fact that he knows Bruce was Batman and about Wayne Enterprises no longer funding orphanages and Bruce decided to head in the town to find out some information for himself. Getting a doctor’s appointment at the same hospital Gordon is in, Bruce get’s his own injuries checked on, then sneaks down to Gordon’s room, wearing a ski mask to disguise himself. Gordon tells him about Bane and then laments about how the better life the city has without organized crime was built on such a fragile lie. Bruce then goes to see Lucius and asks him about the stopped donations to the orphanages and Lucius tells him that the donations were tied into the companies projects and since he had sunk all of the money into the reactor but then cancelled it, there was no more money for anything else to be researched. He then invites Bruce to look at some of the other items he has consolidated from various warehouses, as he didn’t want them getting into the wrong hands, and Bruce is amazed by the Bat, a flying craft designed for maneuvering among city skyscrapers but Lucius tells him the auto pilot doesn’t work. That night, Bruce follows Selina to a charity ball, where he ends up being confronted by Miranda about the reactor and he apologizes to her but tells her it was too dangerous as it could easily be weaponized. He then heads down to dance with Selina and the two banter about why she stole his prints before he takes the pearls back from her but she kisses him and steals the keys to his Lamborghini. Bruce heads back to the Batcave and, using a motorized knee brace to help him walk, he prepares to go out into the city again but Alfred warns him about Bane, saying that he was a member of the League of Shadows before he was excommunicated form the group and worries Bruce won’t be able to beat him. The next day, Bane and his men attack the Gotham Stock Exchange and use their online services to make a trade, then take some hostages and head out, using a wireless router attached to a tablet to continue having the program work. As the police give chase, Batman suddenly appears on the Batcycle and takes down two of the crooks. Hearing that Batman showed up, Foley orders all of the cops to ignore the robbers and focus on Batman, much to Blake’s dismay. Meanwhile, Bane and the last crook separate and Bane is able to get away, as Batman continues after the other crook as he still has a hostage. After catching him, he checks the bag the man is carrying and finds that whatever program they had running has finished it’s work but before he can examine it further, the police show up and he is forced to flee from them, making his getaway in the Bat. Meanwhile, Daggett had been watching the news and when Bane contacts him to say that the mission was successful despite Batman’s interference, he decides to celebrate. Heading into his private office, he is confronted by Selina, in her cat burglar outfit that has earned her the nickname of Catwoman, and she asks him about the Clean Slate program that she was promised. When Daggett’s men try to stop her, she takes Daggett hostage and jumps out the window onto a window washer platform. Using it to head to the roof, she asks him again about the program but Daggett tells her that the program doesn’t exist. When Bane’s men suddenly appear on the roof, Selina tells them to stay Back but Batman appears and say they don’t care, then helps her fight them off, stopping Selina when she tries to shoot one of them. When some of the men begin firing at them, Batman and Selina escape in the Bat and he drops her off on a roof top away from Daggett’s office. As she goes to leave, he asks her what she did with Bruce Wayne’s prints and she tells him she sold him to Daggett but doesn’t know what he wanted them for, although he was interested in what happened at the stock exchange. When Batman returns to the Batcave, Alfred chastises him for doing what he did, warning him that he is no match for Bane but Bruce ignores him, focusing on the tablet he collected. He is able to determine that they were using his fingerprints to make some sort of trades and asks Alfred to take it to Lucius to find out what they were. Alfred says he will do this but won’t help any further, and as they argue, Alfred tells him about Rachel’s letter stating that she was going to marry Harvey before quitting. The next morning, Lucius goes to see Bruce and tells him that according to the papers, he traded all of his shares on the futures market and lost everything, essentially making him broke and allowing Daggett the chance to take control of Wayne Enterprises. Bruce is worried about Applied Sciences but Lucius assures him it is off the books and untouchable but everything else isn’t and Bruce reluctantly agrees with Lucius to let Miranda know about the reactor. Lucius takes Miranda to the docks, where a secret chamber underneath the water contains the fully functional reactor. Bruce explains that when Pavel first figured out this type of reactor could be weaponized, he had claimed problems in it’s development but secretly hid it there, where it could be flooded if necessary. While Pavel may be dead, someone else could find a way to turn it into a weapon and he didn’t want to take that risk but now, he would rather trust her and let her use her discretion in whether or not to reveal the reactor to the world than let Daggett get his hands on it. After Lucius and Miranda head to the board meeting, Bruce shows up to attend but Daggett says that since he lost his shares he doesn’t belong there and Lucius reluctantly agrees with him and tells Bruce he has to leave. Bruce heads outside to find his car being repossessed and Blake shows up and offers him a ride so he can escape the reporters. Some time later, Daggett returns to his office, upset at discovering that Miranda had been named CEO of Wayne Enterprises instead of him, and when he sees Bane, he blames him for his failure but Bane says everything is going as planned, then proceeds to kill Daggett. Back in Blake’s car, Blake asks Bruce about why he wore a mask, as he had no family that would be in danger, and Bruce tells him that there is always someone you care about that could be hurt. He asks Blake about how the search for Bane is going and he says not too good, as Foley doesn’t seem too interested in fully searching the sewers. Bruce has Blake drop him off at Selina’s place and he talks to her about what Daggett had offered her, telling her his “friend” can get it for in exchange with a meeting. Meanwhile, Blake heads to Gordon’s hospital room and informs him and Foley about Daggett’s death and how he had signed on for numerous sewer construction jobs and Gordon promotes Blake to work for him and has Foley organize a grid search of the sewers. Bruce returns to Wayne Manor and finds Miranda waiting for them and after talking for a while, they end up sleeping together and afterwards, Miranda suggests they just leave but Bruce says he can’t. That night, Batman meets with Catwoman and says he can offer her the Clean Slate program if she takes him to Bane. Catwoman leads him through the sewers to Bane, which is actually a trap and she apologizes for it. As Bane confronts Batman, he reveals he knows his true identity, which shocks Catwoman, and the two proceed to fight but Bane overpowers Batman, saying that he will finish Ra’s al Ghul’s plans of destroying Gotham. He then shows Batman that his lair is directly underneath the Applied Sciences department, allowing him access to all of the weapons Lucius designed, then breaks Batman’s back. Catwoman leaves and attempts to escape the city but she is caught by Blake, who questions her about Bane and whether or not Bruce is alive and she says she doesn’t know. Bane has Bruce taken to the prison that he lived in and lives him there, saying he wants to break Bruce’s soul and after Gotham is destroyed, he will then come back and kill him. Back in Gotham, Miranda and Lucius are arguing over whether or not Miranda should tell the board about the reactor but when they enter the board room, they find Bane and his men waiting for them. Bane kidnaps Lucius, Miranda, and another board member and takes them into the sewers, where his men have blasted a tunnel to the reactor, then forces them to turn it on so Pavel can weaponize it. When he is done, Bane has his men remove the core and Pavel says if he does that, the core will decay and it will explode in a matter of months, to which Bane says “5 by my calculations”. Foley goes to see Gordon and tells him about Bane and Gordon tells him to send every available cop they can spare into the sewers to flush them out, labeling it a training exercise so they can avoid a panic, while telling Blake to keep checking on the Daggett angle. As Blake keeps checking various sites, he recognizes a cement truck driver as being the same on that was blocking a street at the stock exchange. and realizes that he is working for Bane but when another worker tries to attack him, he ends up killing both of them. Contacting Gordon and reporting what he has found, he realizes that Daggett’s crews were mixing explosives into the concrete for all the jobs they worked and the police were walking into a trap. As the mayor is attending a football game in the city, Bane detonates the explosives, trapping all of the cops underneath the city, as well as killing the mayor in his suite at the stadium, causing destruction all across the city, and collapsing all but one of the bridges out of the city. Bane then steps out onto the remains of the field and addresses the crowd, and the audience watching, including Bruce in the prison, and shows them the bomb and Pavel, whom he kills after confirming that he is the only person capable of disarming the bomb. Bane then blackmails the government into keeping out of the city but sending the necessary supplies into it, telling the army that if one person escapes, they will detonate the bomb. Bane then heads to Blackgate prison and reads Gordon’s speech, where Gordon admits that Batman took the fall for Harvey’s crimes, when he had been driven mad by the Joker and killed several people and almost killed Gordon’s son. When Blake hears that, he asks Gordon if it is true and Gordon admits it but tries to rationalize the reason for the lie but Blake doesn’t seem to buy it. Bane then uses the tumblers he stole from Lucius and proceeds to free all of the prisoners from Blackgate and initiates a new order, where everyone is free to do as they please and the criminals end up taking control as Bane places the bomb in a truck and has it constantly moved through the city in order to keep the US Government from interfering with what happens in the city. In the prison, Bruce tries to do a push up but collapses in pain and the former prison doctor, who is himself a prisoner now, tells him his back must be fixed first. Bruce’s cellmate, uses some rope to hoist him up and as he does so, he tells him about the one person to escape from the prison. A child who was born inside the prison, whose parents were a mercenary and the regional warlord’s daughter who had secretly wed, and Bruce believes this was Bane. One Bruce is hoisted up, his cellmate realigns the protruding vertebra in his back and leaves him hanging until he is able to stand on his own. While he is hanging there, Bruce has a vision of Ra’s al Ghul and he realizes that Ra’s was the mercenary and Bane is his child. Once his back is healed so he can walk again, Bruce works on rebuilding his strength and eventually tries to climb out of the prison but fails. Meanwhile, as the month’s have passed in the city, Blake has worked on siphoning off gas and gives it to the father that ran the orphanage, telling him it was just in case they had a chance to escape. Meanwhile, a special forces team, under the guise of delivering supplies, makes it into Gotham and meets with Gordon and what few police officers remain on the surface. As they discuss the situation, Blake tells them that he has been in contact with his partner, who is buried in the sewers, and the men down there are ready to fight once the rubble is cleared from the sewers. Gordon then tells them that the bomb is in one of 3 trucks that gets moved around but the truck’s routes themselves don’t vary much. The captain wants to wait but Gordon says that isn’t an option, then has Blake take the captain and the two men with him to see Lucius and Miranda, who are in another building. Lucius explains about the core deteriorating and that it will explode in 23 days. The captain asks if they can disarm it and Lucius tells him that he could reconnect it to the reactor and stabilize it. The special forces team goes to leave but they are attacked by Bane’s men and killed and left hanging on one of the bridges as a warning to anyone else attempting to stop them. Seeing the bodies hanging on the TV, Bruce gets angry and attempts to climb out again but fails. As he continues building his strength, the prison doctor tells him that he needs to use fear to motivate him to succeed in the climb, telling him to make the climb without the rope. Bruce takes his advise and manages to successfully climb out, and after reaching the top, tosses a rope down for the other prisoners before he heads off to find a way back to Gotham. In Gotham, Gordon tries to rally what men he has left on the surface, as there is now only 18 hours left till the bomb explodes, but when he sees that Foley is missing, he goes to his house to confront him. Miranda offers to help him and he and some men go to tag the truck that is carrying the bomb but are captured after they do so. They are brought before Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, who acts as a sentencing judge and sentences them to death by exile, where they will be forced to walk across the frozen ice, though nobody has made it to shore yet but Bane has Miranda pulled from the group. Meanwhile, Selina encounters Bruce Wayne and is shocked to see him still alive. Bruce offers her the Clean Slate, realizing she wanted it to give herself a fresh start, and asks that she help him get to Lucius Fox. Selina does so by having Bruce captured and taken to where Bane is keeping Lucius, Miranda, and some other people. Bruce asks how much time they have and Lucius tells him about 12 hours but before they can say anything else, Catwoman enters and says Bane wants to speak with Bruce and Lucius. As the guards are escorting them out of the main prison area, Catwoman knocks out the guards then frees Lucius and Bruce before leaving. Bruce and Lucius head to Bruce’s former lair at the docks and as Bruce gets some supplies and a new Batsuit from there, Lucius tells him that he figured the trigger for the bomb must be a microwave transmitter and he could block it with an item from the Bat, so Bruce takes him to where he left it and the remove the necessary part. That night, Gordon and his men are forced out onto the ice but as they get close to a bridge post, Gordon sees a flare on the ice, just as the guards are suddenly rendered unconscious. When he hears a voice saying light it, Gordon smiles as he lights the flare and drops it, where it ignites a fuel trail up the post and forms a giant bat symbol on the bridge. Batman approaches him and asks where Miranda is and Gordon tells him that Bane is holding her at City Hall. Batman hands Gordon the device to block the transmitter, telling him to get it on the truck with the bomb so it can’t be detonated, and prepare for the war that is to come. Meanwhile, Blake heads to the sewer where his partner and lifts the manhole, then helps his partner out but his partner is quickly shot as Bane’s men show up, then drop a grenade down the manhole to disperse or kill the cops below. The question Blake about who he is, then prepare to kill him but Batman shows up and saves him. Telling him again about why the mask is for protecting others, not himself, Batman then helps Blake clear the debris from the tunnel, freeing the police. He then tells Blake to lead an exodus out of the city in case he fails in stopping the bomb. Batman then takes Catwoman to where he stored the Batcycle and asks her to blow a hole in the tunnel so people can escape, then help him deal with Bane and his men but she says she will blow the tunnel but then leave and tries to convince him to come with him, saying he doesn’t owe the people anything and has already given them everything he could. In the morning, Foley joins the newly freed cops and the march on city hall and as Bane’s men prepares to open fire on them, the Bat flies down and disables the Tumblers, causing a cheer to erupt from the police as they surge forward. Hearing the sounds of battle, Catwoman blows a hole in the tunnel to let people escape but she pauses as she decides what she should do. Meanwhile, Blake is helping the father get the kids on the bus, while having some of the older kids go knock on the doors and spread the words to people to escape either over the bridge or through the tunnel. Elsewhere, Gordon and some men move to place the jammer on the truck with the bomb but the truck they think has the bomb is a cecoy so they are forced to look for the other trucks, with Gordon eventually leaping onto the right truck. At City Hall, the fighting continues and Bane and Batman end up facing each other, with Batman eventually getting the upper hand when he disables Bane’s mask. As they make their way into City Hall. Bane sees Miranda and after dealing with her guard, tells her to watch the door while he asks Bane where the trigger is. Bane asks how Batman escaped the prison, Batman tells him that he climbed out just like he did but Bane tells him that he never escaped the prison and Miranda comes up behind Batman and says she did, just before stabbing him. As Batman looks on in shock, she explains her name is Talia and she was the one to escape, while Bane was her protector inside the prison. After escaping, she found her father, who freed the prison and saved Bane but he had already been disfigured and Ra’s eventually kicked him out of the League as he was a constant reminder of his dead wife. Miranda goes to use the trigger, finishing her father’s work while getting revenge on Batman for killing him but Gordon was able to get the device on the core, preventing her from detonating it. Miranda then leaves with Bane’s men in the Tumblers to safeguard the core and ensure it detonates, shooting through the cops as they leave, killing Foley in the process. After she leaves, Bane moves to kill Batman but he is saved when Catwoman uses the Batcycle to shoot Bane. Meanwhile, Blake leads an exodus of people across the bridge and tries to convince the police and national guard on the other side to let them out before the bomb explodes but the police blow the bridge, trapping them in the city and Blake yells out at them that they just killed them. Batman and Catwoman work on steering the truck towards the reactor, taking out the Tumbler’s that were guarding it. Miranda had gotten into the tuck and tells the driver to keep going but Batman fires on the truck and it ends up crashing. Gordon emerges from the back and heads towards the cab only to find a dying Miranda, who had activated the reactor’s failsafe and flooded the reactor chamber, nearly killing Lucius in the process. Batman grabs a cable and hooks the core to the Bat and prepares to fly it out of there and Catwoman kisses him when she realizes that there isn’t an autopilot so he is sacrificing himself to save everyone. Gordon approaches him before he leaves and says he never needed to know his name but asks if the city should know who there hero is. Batman responds that a hero can be anyone, even someone who simply puts a coat on a young boy’s shoulders and comforts them and as he flies off, Gordon thinks back and realizes that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman flies the bomb out of the city and Blake and the children watch him fly past and cheer only to grow quiet as the bomb goes off out over the bay. A private funeral is held for Bruce, with only Gordon, Lucius, Blake, and Alfred attending and after the three men leave, Alfred goes up to the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne and apologizes for failing them. According to Bruce’s will, all of his belongings are sold to account for any remaining debts and the rest is to go to Alfred. Wayne Manor is given to the city, under the condition that it never be destroyed and that it become the new home for at risk children and orphans. A statue is erected to honor Batman for saving the city and Lucius has recovered the Bat and tries to figure out what he could have done to save Bruce but his technicians tell him that the auto pilot had been fixed 6 months ago by Bruce Wayne. Gordon goes back to the police station but as he is looking at some files on the roof, he notices a new Batsignal on the roof. Blake was left a bag in Bruce’s will, under his legal name of Robin, and inside, he finds a note with some GPS coordinates. When he follows them, he finds himself inside the Batcave and realizes that Batman had left him his legacy. Alfred heads to a cafe in Florence that he visits every year and as he orders his drink and looks around, he sees Bruce sitting at a table with Selina and he nods to Alfred, indicating that Alfred got his wish and that Bruce is finally happy.

The Dark Knight Rises met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan’s franchise in spectacular fashion.” At one point, director Christopher Nolan had considered using a combination of deleted scenes from The Dark Knight and CGI in order to have the Joker appear briefly in the movie but ultimately decided against it, feeling it would be disrespectful to Heath Ledger’s memory, as he died after The Dark Knight was completed but before the movie was released. The movie was a smash hit at the box office, earning $1.085 billion off of a $250 million budget, making it not just the highest grossing installment in the Batman franchise, but the highest grossing movie based off of a DC Comic’s property to date.

While it didn’t quite beat out it’s predecessor, this was still a great movie to watch. The acting was good, with the returning characters doing great jobs with their roles. Tom Hardy made for a very good Bane and did a decent job showcasing Bane’s intelligence, but I admit the voice was somewhat annoying. I thought that Anne Hathaway made a great Selina Kyle, really bringing to light her quick wit as well as her self preservation attitude though she does occasionally act against her nature and help others, though usually when it serves her own purpose. I thought that Marion Cotillard was an interesting take on Talia al Ghul while Joseph Gordon-Levitt was equally interesting as Blake. The story was interesting, reminding me a lot of the “No Man’s Land” story line from the comics, in the fact that Gotham was cut off from the rest of the country, in the comics it was due to an earthquake that devastated the city and in the movie, by Bane and his men cutting off the city and holding a nuclear bomb inside it. Of course, there was also the Knightfall arc, where Bane broke Batman’s back and Batman’s subsequent journey back and recovery. I thought they did a good job with everything except for one aspect of the ending. Now, I didn’t have a problem with Bruce faking his death and I thought that his showing up in Florence when Alfred takes his yearly vacation was actually a nice way of revealing to Alfred that he was right and it was time for him to move on and showing that he had. No, the problem I had was the rather cheap bit with Blake’s character, when he went to get the bag that Bruce had left him and the clerk commented on his real name being Robin. That was honestly completely unnecessary and merely a cheap pop at comic book fans to be like “Look, this guy is going to be Robin”. The special effects and fight scenes were very well done and I have to give props to Hans Zimmer as the music throughout the whole trilogy was incredible and whose score with this was as good, if not better, than what he had in The Dark Knight and excellently helped accent the mood of the scenes. A great movie and a good way to end a trilogy of films.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

November 8th, 2017 Movie – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue one

Ok folks. This right here the other reason that “S” is my second favorite letter when it comes to movie titles, not just today’s movie but the entire Star Wars franchise. Yes, I am a huge fan of the universe that George Lucas created way back in 1977. The original trilogy has always been one of my favorite series of movies to watch while the prequels….not so much. When Disney bought the rights to the franchise from Lucas, I was honestly a little worried about what would happen in regards to new movies, but hopeful, as Disney has done a pretty good job with the MCU. Now, I know a lot of you are wondering why I am starting the Star Wars series with this particular movie. You see, I have a particular order I like to watch these movies in; not just going original trilogy to prequels or starting with Episode I and going sequentially. However, I will admit that I had a bit of a dilemma when it came to placing today’s movie within that order. I actually had a discussion with several of my friends about this before coming to the decision that I should start with this movie, as it leads directly into Episode IV. So let’s get ready for an adventure as we kick off our journey into the Star Wars universe with today’s movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The plot: An Imperial shuttle lands on the planet Lah’mu but it’s landing is observed by Galen Erso, an Imperial research scientist who has been hiding on the planet with his family. Galen’s wife Lyra contacts Saw Gerrera, a Rebel extremist, and tells him what is going on, then Lyra takes their daughter Jyn to go hide but Lyra tells Jyn to keep going while she goes back to help Galen. Galen heads out to meet with Orson Krennic, a weapons developer for the Empire, who wants Galen to come back and finish helping with the development of the Empire’s newest weapon, but Galen refuses. When Lyra returns and draws a gun on Krennic, Krennic has her killed, though she manages to wound Krennic before she dies. Jyn witnesses this and makes her way to a hidden bunker, where she watches the Imperial soldiers search for her but fail to find her and after they leave, she is rescued by Gerrera. 15 years later, Rebel Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor meets up with an informant at a trading outpost on the Ring of Kafrene, who tells him that the Empire is building a planet killer and that a cargo pilot had defected and taken a message from Galen Erso to Saw Gerrera on Jedha. When some Stormtroopers get curious about what they are doing, Cassian kills them and then his contact before making his escape. Meanwhile, Jyn is a prisoner at an Imperial labor camp when she is rescued by the Rebellion and taken to their base on Yavin IV, where Cassian, Mon Mothma, and General Draven ask her about Gerrera and her father and convince her to help them make contact with Gerrera so they can get the information the pilot has and then rescue Galen Erso. Jyn boards the shuttle that she will be traveling in with Cassian and his co-pilot/partner K-2SO but before they leave, Cassian is called aside by Draven and told that he is to kill Galen instead of rescuing him. On Jedha, the defecting pilot, Bodhi Rook, is taken to see Gerrera but Gerrera has become overly paranoid and believes that Rook is a spy sent to tell people where his base is and has him imprisoned and interrogated. Elsewhere, Krennic is summoned to see Grand Moff Tarkin, who is overseeing the final construction of the Death Star, and orders him to find Rook before word gets to the Senate about the Death Star and drives other systems into joining the Rebellion. Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 head to Jedha and see a Star Destroyer in low orbit, with shuttles carrying kyber crystals off of Jedha, which Cassian says is to power their weapon. Jyn and Cassian head into the city to try and find information of Gerrera’s whereabouts and while Cassian goes to speak with a contact, Jyn meets Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior-monk who is a former Guardian of the Whills before the Empire destroyed the temple. When Gerrera’s forces attack an Imperial patrol, Jyn and Cassian find themselves caught in the crossfire and end up being captured by the Imperials, along with K-2 but Chirrut and his companion, Baze Malbus, rescue them only to end up being captured by Gerrera’s men. Jyn is brought to see Gerrera, who thinks she might have been sent to kill him but she tells him she was there simply to help Cassian retrieve the pilot and message and after that, she is done with the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Krennic and Tarkin have the Death Star moved into Jedha’s orbit and Krennic wants to destroy the whole planet but Tarkin says they want to make a statement and says to simply destroy the Holy City instead. Back in Gerrera’s base, Cassian realizes that Rook is in the cell next to them and tries to talk to him but finds his mind is damaged from Gerrera’s interrogation process. At the same time, Gerrera is playing Galen’s message for him, where he talks about the Death Star and how he built in a weakness within the reactor core and says that they will need to find the structural blueprints to discover the location of the core and says they can find them at a data bank on Scarif, just as Krennic has the Death Star destroy the city. The blast causes tremors and sends a pressure wave heading towards Gerrera’s base in the form of a massive upheaval of the ground. Cassian manages to short out the prison door then goes to locate Jyn while asking Chirrut and Baze to get Rook while contacting K-2 and telling him to come pick them up. Cassian finds Jyn and tells her they have to leave and Gerrera tells her to go and keep the dream alive as he chooses to remain in the base and is killed. K-2 picks up Cassian, Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, and Rook and they manage to escape before the pressure wave kills them and as they travel through hyperspace, Cassian contacts Yavin IV and tells Draven that he knows where Galen is and is told to head to Eadu and complete the mission. Meanwhile, Tarkin congratulates Krennic on the Death Star’s capabilities but tells him he will be taking command of the project, as the security leak raises concerns about his leadership. In a rage, Krennic heads to Eadu himself to question Galen and see if he betrayed him. On Eadu, Rook has K-2 and Cassian fly through a canyon to avoid being detected but they hit an outcropping and end up crashing. When Yavin IV loses contact with them, Draven orders a fleet to go attack Eadu in order to kill Galen. Back on Eadu, Cassian goes with Rook to scout the nearby shuttle dock, in hopes they have a shuttle they can steal but after they leave, Chirrut voices his suspicions of Cassian’s true motives which causes Jyn to go after them, with Chirrut and Baze follow later. Rook and Cassian observe Galen on the loading dock and after a shuttle passes overhead, Cassian tells Rook to go find them a shuttle so they can escape. When the shuttle lands, Krennic disembarks with his troops and tells Galen the station is a success, then has him order his staff brought out so he can question them. After asking who betrayed the Empire and nobody responds, Krennic is prepared to shoot all of them but Galen yells at him to stop, admitting he did it. Krennic strikes Galen, then has his men kill all of Galen’s staff before Krennic kneels down and tells Galen about the test on Jedha. Meanwhile, Cassian is prepared to shoot Galen but can’t bring himself to do it and continues to observe when he sees Jyn making her way onto the dock. When he contacts K-2 and learns about the fleet coming in, he tries to get them to delay the attack but it is too late. As the rebel fleet makes it’s attack run, Jyn calls out to her father just as an explosion occurs, Throwing Galen forward while knocking Jyn, Krennic, and his forces off their feet. After the Rebel fleet completes their hit and run attack and leave, Jyn approaches her father and holds him as he dies. Cassian approaches and drags her away, with Baze covering their escape, and they all board the Imperial shuttle that Rook and K-2 stole. As they are flying back to the Yavin IV, Jyn confronts Cassian about his real mission and he said that he had his orders and he disobeyed them but she isn’t satisfied with his answer. Krennic flies to Mustafar to seek an audience with Darth Vader in his castle fortress. Krennic asks Vader for his help in speaking to the Emperor about letting him regain control of the Death Star but Vader tells him that it has already caused more problems and he should ensure that no more problems can arise, force choking him to get his point across. Back at the Yavin IV, the Rebel Alliance is arguing about what their next course of action should be, with several people saying they should scatter while others want to surrender. Jyn proposes that they attack Scarif and steal the plans for the Death Star, or else the universe would have no chance against the Empire but Mon Mothma says the odds are too great. After the meeting is over, Rook, Cirrut, and Baze agree to help Jyn and they find that Cassian has talked to some more members of the Rebellion to get their help as well. They gather their gear and head for the shuttle and as the controller tries to ask them what is going on, Rook gives them the call sign of Rogue One as they take off. Inside the base, Mon Mothma is speaking with Bail Organa and asks him about contacting his Jedi friend and he tells her he will send someone he trust to contact him. Rogue One reaches Scarif and manages to make it through the Planetary Shield and as they are landing, Jyn explains the plan to the group. After taking out the men that come aboard to inspect the shuttle, Jyn and Cassian disguise themselves in their uniforms and head to the main tower with K-2 while Chirrut, Baze, and the other soldiers head out and make plans to provide a distraction for them. While this is going on, Krennic arrives on Scarif and heads to the main tower, demanding a list of every communication that Galen ever made. Cassian contacts the men outside and have them begin their attack and Krennic, seeing the explosions from the tower, orders the garrison emptied to deal with the attack. On the Death Star, Tarkin receives word about the attack on Scarif and, learning that Krennic is there, he orders the Death Star to head to Scarif and tells his men to contact Vader. At the same time, Mon Mothma is told that intercepted transmissions are talking about the attack and she learns that Admiral Raddus has headed to his ship and ordered the fleet to head there and attack. When the Rebel fleet arrives, Blue Squadron heads down to the surface before the shield is closed while the rest of the fleet begin attacking the Star Destroyers around the planet. When they learn that they are trapped on the planet, Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 realize that the only way to get the plans to the fleet is to transmit them to the fleet so Cassian contacts Rook to make contact with the fleet. Realizing he can’t do it without tapping into the Imperial relay, Rook contacts the rebels and tells them to find a master switch while he taps into the communications systems. Jyn and Cassian start looking for the file and when Stormtroopers begin to enter, K-2 seals them in and holds off the Stormtroopers. Jyn and Cassian finally locate the file but the power goes out as K-2 is severely damaged by the approaching soldiers and he tells them to climb to the top of the tower to transmit the codes before he is destroyed. Jyn shoots out the window and she jumps onto the tower with Cassian and they make their way to the file. Krennic learns of the intrusion in the records room and heads there with two of his guards. Opening a side panel, they begin firing on Jyn and Cassian just as Jyn grabs the file and Cassian manages to kill the guards but he is shot by Krennic and falls down onto a lower platform. Back on the beach, the Rebels try to reach the Master Switch but are pinned down so Chirrut heads out on his own and manages to activate it but is then killed, and Baze is killed soon after. Rook makes contact with the fleet and tells them to take out the planetary shield so that the plans can be transmitted but his is killed when the shuttle is blown up by a grenade. Back above the planet, the Rebel fleet manages to disable one of the Star Destroyers and Raddus has a Hammerhead Corvette ram into it, pushing it into the second Star Destroyer and causing both of them to crash into the shield generator and take down the shield. Jyn makes it to the top of the tower and loads the file into the transmitter, then heads out to realign the dish. As she makes her way back, she is confronted by Krennic and she tells whom who she is but when he goes to shoot her, Cassian shoots him first. Jyn transmits the blueprints and the Rebel fleet successfully receive them when suddenly, the Death Star appears. Tark orders the Death Star to fire on the Imperial base and Cassian and Jyn, who have made it down to the beach, embrace each other as they are killed by the pressure wave from the blast. Back in space, the Rebel fleet is preparing to escape when they are stopped by the arrival of Vader’s Star Destroyer, which begins firing on the ships. When the Rebel command ship is disabled, Vader heads over in a boarding craft to personally recover the plans but the Rebel soldiers manage to get them on board an escape craft, a Corellian Corvette, which leaves the area. As they escape, one of the soldiers asks what was in the transmission and Princess Leia, who is on board, says “Hope.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground — and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.” The castle-like fortress that Vader lives in on Mustafar was based on an unused concept that was created after Episode IV was filmed but before the plot for Episode V was developed. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $1.056 billion off of a $265 million budget, making it the second highest grossing movie in the franchise, and earned 2 Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.

This was a great movie and definitely worth of it’s place in the Star Wars mythos. The acting was really good, with Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Diego Luna (Cassian) doing great jobs in their roles and showing a surprising amount of character growth between the two of them. I also liked Donnie Yen (Chirrut), Jiang Wen (Base), Ben Mendelsohn (Krennic), and Riz Ahmed (Rook) were also really good, while Guy Henry did a great job of portraying Grand Moff Tarkin, almost making it seem as if Peter Cushing had returned from the grave to reprise his role. The story was great, working great as an immediate prequel to the original Star Wars, in essence, bringing life to the scrawl that appeared at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV. The special effects were great but I also liked how they used some of the old school effects that George Lucas used in the original movie, such as cardboard cutouts of ships to make a hangar look full. Also, that scene at the end of Vader appearing before the Rebel soldiers, with only his lightsaber illuminating him, before he proceeds to slaughter them was pretty bad ass. There is one problem with the movie and that is the desire to pay fan service to the audience creating a pretty large plot hole. See, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are seen in the base on Yavin 4 as the Rebel fleet is leaving to assist Rogue One on Scarif, yet they are on Princess Leia’s Corvette in Episode IV, an impossible feat as her ship was on board the Rebel Flagship when it arrived at Scarif. If they really wanted to play up the fan service, they could have just had them on board the ship as they are escaping from Vader. Aside from that glaring plot hole, this is a great movie and definitely fits in with the rest of the movies.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5