‘Rogue One’: A ‘Star Wars’ Story

Rogue One….the Rogue One to end all Rogue Ones…..

Rating: 3.5/4

A prequel for the purpose of solving all the plot holes in the original, well kinda the original (There is Episode I, II, and III), which no one wanted to acknowledge. Overkill you say? Ehhhhhhhh…..maybe?

Where’s Hahn? Where’s Luke? Anaken turn out alright….he seemed like a nice enough kid? What about a Pimp named Slickback….#Landocalrissian? Cousin Itt still riding shotgun?

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Wait….who are these people?

Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera) …..Okay…..He’s not a morally questionable warlord leading a resistance movement, is he? Right. Hm.

Diego Luna (Cassian Andor)???! From Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (That’s $2.99 on Amazon by the way)?

Alan Tudyk (k-2SO)…okay…not like anything bad happened in Serenity.

Donnie Yen (Chirrut Îmwe)…..might have some good fighting choreography.

Wen Jiang (Let the Bullets Fly is pretty underrated….free on Hulu).

Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso) too? My man. Cannibalism, right? N..no? Not a thing?

And Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso)…..alright….alright….not too bad. We’ve got a Death Star too? Alright, back in business. But no, lightsabers? Hm. This is slightly more irritating than watching Sylvester Stallone pronounce the alphabet. (Demolition Man is super underrated….also on Amazon for $2.99).

Anyways, “A long time ago….” Oh, ffs. That’s gone too?!?

What’s apparent is Rogue One is very much the same, yet different. The scale of the Star Wars world is larger. Rather than the same three locales, a jungle, a desert, and some woods, Rogue One spends much of the run time crossing from planet-to-planet, and ship-to-ship. Every type of locale: jungle, desert, woods, ice planet, lava planet, swamp, is shown in 133 minutes rather than seven films. Many of these areas are stunning and massive in scale. The scale of the universe was something George Lucas continually wrestled with representing, but never quite grasped. Instead, it’s Disney making the Star Wars films Lucas probably wished he made, and cleaning-up for his mistakes.

Rogue One is set a few days prior to the events of Episode IV. There is a “new” not new Death Star, a planet killer waiting to rule the galaxy. Jones’ father, Mikklsen, is the designer of the Death Star. Jones is recruited with the task of making contact with her father on behalf of the Rebel Alliance. Much like Rey in Episode VII, Jones is not confined to the ceremonial role of being the token female (Not that Leia was either, though, maybe Padme). She has been living in the wilderness for a number of years and is certainly able to handle her own. Luna’s character is a solider in the Rebel Alliance, and her companion in her attempt to make contact with her father. 

Among the plot holes filled by the film, some include the whereabouts of Vader before the events of Episode IV, how the plans to the Death Star were stolen, and why there is a tiny access port that can destroy the most indestructible power in the universe. All of these are answered, and every single conclusion will connect back to Episode IV.

However, what makes Rogue One valuable is its ability to fill in the other holes we never knew were there, or didn’t want to admit. Star Wars is a morally monochromatic universe. You’re either good or you’re evil. The Rebel Alliance is good. The Galactic Empire is evil. However, there are shades of grey.

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The Rebel Alliance is good at propaganda. One of the first “shots” (Oh yea, that was intended) is Luna killing an informant, and yes, Luna did shoot first. It’s a jarring scene for anyone used to the strict moral code of the previous episodes. The Rebels do not move as a monolith. There are different factions within the army, such as the one led by Whitaker. That faction is more radical than the cuddly monolith of Episode IV. Also, not everyone in the rebellion is down for the Force or martyrdom. When it’s time to face Vader, let’s say some Rebels *choked on their ambitions* rather than fight an all-out-war.

The one major flaw of Rogue One is the lack of usefulness for Whitaker’s character. While Gerrera takes care of Erso’ daughter, his only use is as a jumping off to connect Jyn Errso back to her father. The ten minutes within Gerrra’s base are the weakest of the film. No context is added to the character. He appears as if he just came out of Mad Max with his oxygen mask. And he inexplicably has a slug who can interrogate the veracity of a pilot’s claim (A defector who states that he’s been sent by Erso’ father). Yet it’s never  clear what powers the slug has. Too much is left unexplained and rushed through for the purpose of advancing the plot. Two minutes more of dialog may have provided sufficient cover.

Rogue One MIGHT be the best Star Wars related film of the cannon. It certainly is the most self-aware. While Luke is still trying because of Uncle Owen’s denials to join the outside world, like an episode of Hoarders, it’s the forces of Rogue One who get all the grief and little of the glory. Instead, in the future, Luke will have the benefit of Red Leader staying on…..

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