‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,’ and the force be with you

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QUITE A FORCE—Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Benjamin Hartlley and Russell Balogh are among the stars of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The film will play Feb. 5 at the Hollywood El Capitan Theatre. Photo credit: Lucasfilm Ltd.

Three decades ago the compelling, enduring franchise known as “Star Wars” burst into our earthly realm from a galaxy far-far away, It began with episodes IV, V and VI which introduced us to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), the oh, so handsome Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). They were terrorized by Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), helped by Obi Wan Kenobi and inspired by “The Force” which was always with them. Years later there was the prequels, Episodes I, II and III. This trio of films, however, was not as compelling.

Three decades ago the compelling, enduring franchise known as “Star Wars” burst into our earthly realm from a galaxy far-far away, It began with episodes IV, V and VI which introduced us to Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), the oh, so handsome Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). They were terrorized by Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), helped by Obi Wan Kenobi and inspired by “The Force” which was always with them. Years later there was the prequels, Episodes I, II and III. This trio of films, however, was not as compelling.

Then last year the eagerly awaited “The Force Awakens” arrived on screen. In that film Leia and Han are older, maybe wiser and we find out they have a son who may be leaning to the dark side. Afterall, his grandfather was Darth Vader.

With “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” we bounce back once again in time, a time just prior to the first film “A New Hope” (IV in the first trilogy to hit the big screen.). If this sounds confusing, it won’t be for the true “Star Wars” fan. And even if you are seeing a “Star Wars” film for the first time, “Rogue One” will be exciting if you love sci -fi action and adventure.

The film begins on an isolated planet where scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) is living with his wife and young daughter Jyn Erso. Their peaceful life is interrupted by the arrival of an Imperial leader (Ben Mendelson) who has come to take the acclaimed scientist  and his family back to the Imperial Forces’ headquarters in order to build the Death Star. Prior to his capture Galen’s wife sent their little girl into hiding. Eventually she is found and raised by a rebel extremist (Forest Whitaker). We learn very little about him, only that he cares for the child during her childhood.

As a young woman, Jyn (Felicity Jones) forms an uneasy partnership with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an Alliance Intelligence officer who wants her to help him find her father, if he is still alive. The Rebel forces need to acquire the plans for the Death Star, a massive weapon that could ensure the Empire’s dominance over the galaxy. He and Jyn are joined in their quest by a blind warrior who is intensely devoted to “The Force” (Donnie Yen, a Hong Kong action star). Even without sight he is a gifted martial arts warrior who is aided by his devoted bodyguard (Jian Wen) who always has his back and by a Rebel cargo pilot who is very important to the plot. Another member of  the Rebel group is a very tall, intelligent droid named K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). K-2SO, the main source of humor throughout, is extremely loyal to Cassian, but he has his doubts about Jyn.

When the Rebel forces begin battling with the Empire there are major, violent confrontations that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And at the end of the film there is a brief sighting of Princess Leia ( a very young Carrie Fisher). “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:” is rated PG-13 for extended scenes of sci-fi violence and action.

 

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“Rogue One” will play at the El Capitan Theatre through Feb. 5. If you and your family see it there you can enjoy some special extras. A big plus is the opportunity to take your photo at the “Stormtrooper” meet-and-greet before each screening, so don’t forget to bring a camera or smartphone  to record your encounter. Following the film, head downstairs at the theatre to view a curated collection of intricate vehicle models and hero costumes used in the production of the film.

Exclusive to The El Capitan Theatre, this “Rogue One” exhibit features a U-Wing model signed by the director of the film. For film purists, note that the movie is shown here in Dolby Vision laser projection which transforms your cinema experience with astonishing brightness, contrast and color and the Dolby Atmos sound transports you into the story with moving audio that flows all around you. So if you see “Rogue One” at the El Capitan visual and audio forces will definitely be with you.