I first fell in love with “Star Wars” as a teenager, thanks to a copy of the original trilogy my grandmother had Betamax tape. I watched all of them one day after another, completely enthralled at the world being presented to me on the small screen in front of me.
A couple of years later, I finally got to attend my first midnight screening of a “Star Wars” film, as my parents decided to take me to go see “Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace”. And, yes, the prequels are not as good as the original trilogy, but I was thrilled to be able to see a “Star Wars” film unfold in front of my very eyes on the big screen.
Today, we are very lucky, especially as starting with last year’s “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”, we will be getting “Star Wars” movies every year until they decide that enough is enough.
Last year, “The Force Awakens” managed to return fans to the “Star Wars” universe, and allowed newbies into the fold.
This year, the franchise took a bold step forward with its first ever anthology and stand-alone film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.
This film did not have as much pressure on its shoulders as “The Force Awakens”, but it did have its fair share riding on its back as not only did the film have to be able to be different from the usual “Star Wars” movies, but the fate of the tow other planned stand-alone films would depend on how well this one was received. And now, having seen “Rogue One”, I can say that the Force is definitely strong with this one, and I’m looking forward to see what the upcoming stand-alone films have to offer in the future. (Can we please also have an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie? Please?)
Okay, now, before I go any further, please be warned that this is a
SPOILER HEAVY REVIEW.
So, if you do not want to see any major spoilers, please turn around now and come back after watching the movie.
“Rogue One”, which takes place around a few minutes or hours before “Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope”, tells the story of a misfit group of unlikely heroes affiliated with the Rebel Alliance, who end up going after the plans of the Death Star, a new super-weapon that the Empire has just finished building. Along the way, this reluctant group of rebels become heroes in their one right, as they end up becoming key players in an event that helped provide a brighter hope for the galaxy and for the Rebels themselves.
This unlikely group of heroes consisted of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a thief whose father was instrumental in creating the Death Star; Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a Rebel Intelligence Officer; his reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid with an attitude named K-2SO (Alan Tudyk); Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), an ex-Imperial pilot who was sent by Jyn’s father to relay an important message about the Death Star; Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind Force wielder; and his constant companion, a warrior named Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen).
The film had a tall order to fulfill, and many might have gotten worried about hearing news that they reshot some scenes, but in the end, they came out with a film with strong storytelling, and a good balance of action scenes, heart, grit, and fanservice.
As this does take place in between the timelines or events of “Star Wars: Rebels” and “Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope”, it was expected that there would be a lot of cameo appearances and Easter Eggs, especially within the Rebel Alliance.
Characters such as Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), Senator Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) got enough screen time, and a wonderful one-liner about Obi-Wan Kenobi was rightly placed, without even mentioning the Jedi Knight’s name. C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Jimmy Vee) were only seen for a few seconds, while a ship that looked The Ghost from “Star Wars: Rebels” seemingly appeared on screen for a few seconds during the epic space battle in the last quarter of the film.
The space battle scenes were nothing short of epic, and, I think, were the best space battle sequences I have seen in the history of the franchise. It was also amazing how they recreated the X-wing cockpit scenes with characters from “A New Hope”, and the sequence leading into the first few minutes of “A New Hope” gave me goosebumps all over.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, someone, I think on Reddit, also mentioned that on Yavin IV, the name General Syndulla was mentioned, which is a big shout out to General Cham Syndulla or his daughter, Hera Syndulla. The Syndullas were features in both “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels”. Another “Clone Wars” veteran that they made use of was Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who, along with his sister, Steela, went against the Empire alongside Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his padawan, Ahsoka Tano.
I also got a little bit of a shock seeing Princess Leia there, but I think they used an actress and made use of old footage from “A New Hope” to recreate her image there. However, that did not give me as much of a shock as the appearance of a CGI version of Peter Cushing’s Governor Tarkin, someone we all know had a big presence in “A New Hope”.
The use of Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), was also wonderfully done, as they did not overdo it. This made sure that the scenes he was in made a bigger impact, and it made him even more of a terrifying presence than usual.
Aside from the space battles, the battle on the beach was well done, and it reminded me of beach battles that happened during World War II. In fact, I think a lot of the imagery for the beach, if I am not mistaken, actually drew inspiration from the beaches in Baler, Aurora, in the Philippines.
Those scenes, and the fact that we, the audience, are thrust right into the middle of the action from the get go, really emphasized the fact that they are fighting in a war, and that this film definitely justifies the “Wars” in the title.
Because of this, the film is a little bit darker in tone. However, the fact that there was no opening crawl, the title music was different, and the fact that they had text on the screen telling us what planet or base we are at and its affiliation, plus the fact that this story did not concentrate on the Skywalkers, made the film different and refreshing.
There was not enough time to properly flesh out and develop all of the characters as much as I wanted them to, but at the same time, they were able to flesh them out well and give them interesting story arcs.
Jyn went from apathetic victim to full on Rebel; Baze went from Force skeptic to taking a leap of faith; Bodhi went from accidental defector to full on Rebel; and Cassian went from jaded Rebel soldier to a soldier whose reason for fighting was renewed.
They also were bold enough to really kill off each character one by one, and they did not hold back in delivering blow after blow. We all knew that they were not going to survive, but the way that each went out made me feel for the characters as they went out.
I also liked how they presented interesting questions, such as Jyn’s original stance for not fighting, and the fact that they showed the morally ambiguous choices that the Rebellion often had to make, and how that affected long time Intelligence Officers like Cassian.
The acting was great on all levels, from Felicity Jones, all the way to Ben Mendelsohn’s Imperial Director Orson Krennic. Say what you want to say about Krennic, but he was a very good, straight up classic Imperial officer and villain.
Out of all of the new characters, the stand-out was definitely Tudyk’s K-2SO, whose performance was great on all levels, and was more than just the comic relief character in the film.
Also, it was great that they added some Force and Jedi related lore into the film, with the Kyber crystals, and the fact that the Empire was taking it from a temple on Jedha.
This film did have some flaws, such as the fact that I would have liked some of the motivation’s characters to have been clearer, and sometimes, I couldn’t understand Luna when he was talking fast.
However, all in all, I loved “Rogue One”, and it is a solid movie that I actually liked more than “The Force Awakens”.
Have you seen “Rogue One”? What did you think of it? What were your favorite scenes and who were your favorite characters? Let me know in the comments below!