Back in December of 2015, after a long 11 year wait, Star Wars fans were relieved to be swept back into a galaxy far, far away.
The release of J.J. Abrams’ Episode VII: The Force Awakens was met with thunderous praise and critical acclaim. Following the curtails of this new generational Star Wars phenomenon, announcements of new spin-offs in the extended universe had the world buzzing. Last month, we got to experience the first spin-off on the list – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Rogue One is almost the perfect Star Wars movie because it’s nothing at all like a Star Wars movie. Unlike the previous installments, Rogue One watches more like a wartime drama than a sci-fi/fantasy epic. Even the first ten seconds of the film are different than the other six – there is no traditional title crawl. That being said, Rogue One may be the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back.
Rogue One takes place between the Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The film acts as a bridge between trilogies and finally brings to light how the Rebellion obtained the plans to destroy the Death Star. At its core, the entirety of the Star Wars Saga is fueled by war. The prequel trilogy builds up this war so much so that they are agreeably panned by critics and fans alike for being so political. The original trilogy kept the war storyline as the underlying setting for the heroes of the film. Rogue One relies solely on the war. There are no Jedi, and only a collective two to three minutes of a lightsaber on screen.
Rogue One follows Jyn Erso, played by the lovely Felicity Jones, a girl whose parents were taken away from her by the evil Empire. This fuels Jyn’s hatred for the Empire, and her future rendezvous with members of the Rebellion. She is ultimately rescued by the Rebellions most trusted operative, Casian Andor, played by Diego Luna. Casian and the Rebellion learn of Jyn’s attachment to her father’s involvement with the Death Star’s construction, and utilize her knowledge and talents to try to stay ahead of the Empire.
After watching Rogue One, re-watching the rest of the saga will never be the same. Rogue One brings a tangible attachment to those who fight in this war. Up until this point, these characters acted as background set pieces to add context to what was going on. Rogue One gives these characters meaning now. Any mention of the Rebels in the original trilogy now make me think of the relentlessness and the sacrifices of the Rebel Alliance – all because of this one film. Never have I been more emotionally invested in a set of characters or circumstances in a Star Wars film since The Empire Strikes Back.
Rogue One is the quintessential Star Wars film. For previous Star Wars fans, it adds so many more layers of depth to the entire saga that it makes watching the rest of the films a completely different experience. It also acts as a wonderful standalone film. Audiences who have never seen a Star Wars film can still sit down and enjoy this film without being confused. There are a handful of cameos and Easter Eggs that will please any Star Wars fan, but not so much as to be lost on any other viewer.
Rogue One was one of the very few films that I saw in 2016 that left a lasting impression on me. As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I had no quarrel with anything the film had to offer. Biased as I am, the movie dragged on in a few parts. It was lengthy, as most Star Wars films are, resting around the two-hour mark. The entire film leads up to an outstanding third act, where audiences are met with a solid 30-45 minutes of action. Rogue One is the perfect film to hold us over until December 2017 when the next installment to the saga is set to hit theaters. If you are among the very few who hasn’t seen Rogue One yet, I implore you to go as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed.