Star Wars fans get an early, but long-awaited, Christmas present this week with the release of the stand-alone story, Rogue One, which takes place before the events in the original Star Wars (1977) movie, and five years after the animated TV series, Star Wars Rebels. Felicity Jones stars as a rebel soldier tasked with stealing the plans for the Death Star. Apparently, the Force is not as great as with previous entries in the franchise, although few fans are likely to allow only faint praise from the critics to dampen their enthusiasm.
As always, the release of a major blockbuster sends most other movies running for cover until the hullabaloo has died down, so pickings are rather thin elsewhere. When it comes to the big screen, Larry Charles, who is chiefly known as a producer of high-profile American TV shows like Seinfeld, Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm, is mostly associated with Sacha Baron Cohen’s comedies, but his latest comedy, called Army of One, sees Nicolas Cage (him again), as an American citizen who sets out on his own to find Osama Bin Laden. It received only a limited release in the States before going straight to DVD and it’s critical reception has been lukewarm, so expectations aren’t high.
The rest of this week’s releases in the UK are confined to documentaries. The Eagle Huntress follows 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian Aisholpan as she strives to become her family’s first female eagle huntress in twelve generations, while Howard Brookner, the director of Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989) who was claimed by AIDS before his movie was released, is the subject of his nephew Aaron’s documentary Uncle Howard. Also released is Battle of Soho, a documentary bemoaning the enforced closure of London nightclubs which its makers see as a draconian move by Westminster Council.