When I first heard about the expanded Star Wars Universe on top of the new trilogy, I was STOKED. I love all the intertwining stories and couldn’t wait to see backstories expanded. In a good way, though, not the terrible prequel way.
Rogue One, however, suffered what I like to call ‘Captain America fatigue’ for me. Information and trailers kept trickling for so long it reached a point where I lost interest. It wasn’t as bad as The First Avenger, where the trailer was released A WHOLE YEAR in advance, but in a similar way my excitement waned.
I purchased my Force Awakens tickets the day they went on sale and arrived at the theater early to guarantee a good seat among my fellow nerds. I even took Chinese food and a book with me to entertain myself in line. I was all in.
For Rogue One, however, I waited and waited. I heard good reviews and my friends loved it but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm I needed to actually take the time to see it in theaters. Finally, under the lure of reclining seats, I decided to go after a late shift at work.
Briefly, it was great. Yes, a lot of it is rushed and you might find yourself missing character development, but overall it flows nicely. Even though you know the mission is successful (A New Hope is based on its success), you still feel the tension throughout. Most importantly, it intelligently answers one of the biggest questions in the Star Wars Universe and that makes it worth your time.
Felicity Jones continues the delightful trend of Star Wars featuring incredible female leads who are tough and independent. Her Jyn Erso fits well with Princess Leia-turned-General Organa and Rey. Diego Luna plays Cassian Andor who shows you the less glamorous side of the rebellion that feels very real and adds weight. I’m trying to think of other people to talk about but they all feel like spoilers so I’ll just move there.
DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS POINT
HERE WE GO
Basically, Rogue One should’ve been called the one where everyone dies. I had a suspicion in the back of my mind this might be the case, but I wanted to be wrong. If they lived, surely they would’ve shown up in the original trilogy. You can’t steal the Death Star plans and then disappear away from the rebellion. They probably would’ve received medals with Han and Luke (not Chewie for some reason although he was there too) for their involvement in stalling the Empire.
I figured one of the temple guarders would go, but when they both went minutes apart from each other, that’s when I knew. I thought Chirrut’s last reminder of being with the Force would carry Baze to survival and he would continue to spread the word about the Force, but nah. He’s mowed down a few feet away after taking down a few more people.
Maybe the defector cargo pilot, Bodhi, would live but I never thought he would. I assumed he would die some valiant way showing his true dedication to the rebellion after being a part of the Empire. No, he makes communication happen (very important) and then someone throws a grenade where he is and he looks sad.
All of this to say, I appreciated the realness. Sometimes too many main characters live when everyone dies and if a main character dies, there’s weight to the sacrifice. Perhaps this is the strongest selling point. Yes, everyone dies, but they’re on a suicide mission and they severely tick off the Empire who now possess a weapon that can destroy planets.
With most villains, they talk too much and give the good guys a chance for escape. In Star Wars, the Death Star takes an entirely too long to prepare itself almost as if it read the script and knew how long it needed to take so everything worked out for the best. In the final blow to the planet that kills all the characters we’ve spent two plus hours rooting for, Governor Tarkin doesn’t hesitate. He simply says destroy the city and boom the Death Star is powered and up the city goes.
I cried as Jyn and Cassian embraced on the beach because IT WASN’T FAIR DANGIT! They’ve had hard lives! Give them some happiness together! But I also felt in that moment, they were comforted by the presence of the other, and recognized the weight of what they had just done. I scurried out of the theater so no one else saw me crying because I was a little embarrassed. After this and La La Land, I just need to see two people who love each other can be together OKAY?!
Mads Mikkelsen played Galen Erso, Jyn’s father. I was sure he was going to be bad because I didn’t think Mads Mikkelsen could play a good guy but I was wrong. He defects from the Empire, only to be found again. Eventually General Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), whose power climbing annoyed me and Vader the whole time, finds him and kills his wife. She went down like a BA though, telling him he would never win and refusing to be quiet. Jyn sees this and runs until she is safe, but Galen is taken and forced to create the Death Star.
This brings Jyn into the fight, after she avoided it for years. Her apathy is exchanged for passion as she helps in the search for her father and his secret message. I’ll skip through a lot because here is the exciting part – they are the reason there’s a weakness in the Death Star and people know about it! Ever wonder how the rebellion knew the one weak point and how to find it? Galen put it in and told his daughter how it could be destroyed, even calling the secret plans Stardust (his nickname for her), so she could find them. So haters, be quiet. It all makes sense now.
There were a lot of great moments, including K2 trying to say “I have a bad feeling about this” but being quieted by Cassian and Jyn. I particularly enjoyed the Vader moments, especially seeing he lives on the planet where he basically lost all his limbs and has to spend time in a recovery tank. It’s interesting because for someone so powerful, our old pal Anakin is also pretty weak. He also sees through Krennic’s BS and calls him out with the best dad joke about choking on his ambition WHILE force choking him. Classic.
When we see him again, he’s coming for the rebellion to stop the plans from falling into the right hands. He lands on a ship and you see why everyone was afraid of him, not just because he mowed down all the child Jedis like a real coward. He’s throwing people and swinging his lightsaber and yeah he’s on the bad side but HE’S SO COOL. You see the poor people on the ship desperately passing off the plans from person to person as they are all killed until finally it lands in the hands of our dear Princess Leia as she escapes Vader and perfectly segues right into A New Hope. She literally says the plan gives them hope which is like the perfect segue as I said.
So all in all, pretty great. Very sad. It’s probably good there wasn’t a lot of character development because it was hard enough watching all of them perish with minimal knowledge. It was a very real story that I loved in a world where the good guys always make it out relatively unscathed and everything is great now. It kind of parallels well into The Force Awakens where we see how broken these people are.
- They flash to a lot of different planets in the beginning and all I could think is am I supposed to remember these? They can’t possibly expect that
- Governor Tarkin looks like Jim Carrey in that animated Christmas Carol movie and that is not a good thing. Just recast. Fans of the series will understand and no one else will even notice.
- I thought Leia looked pretty great though.
- When I first saw Jimmy Smits at the rebel base I was like maybe he wasn’t on Alderaan when Vader blew it up but then fatefully he says he’s going back and I had to resist shouting ‘no’ in the theater
- Jyn has really practical hair. I appreciate that in a female character. Star Wars is great with practicality.
- Did Cassian shoot that other guy in the rebellion so he could get away? What a rough gig
- I really didn’t think our pilot friend Bodhi friend was going to have any significance past delivering the message. I thought Saw would kill him. I’m pleased I was wrong. Riz Ahmed is delightful and I hope he wins the Golden Globe.
- Why can’t people get beamed up in Star Wars? They have holograms. I know it’s a Star Trek thing, but beaming would be really helpful and maybe Jyn and Cassian could live happily ever after. Maybe only in my mind. It’s fine.
- Jyn is climbing a lot in this movie. Her arms must be really sore. She must be pretty strong.