Rogue One: A Review

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Joey Clark, Staff Writer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marked Disney and Lucasfilm’s first step into a new side of the popular Star Wars franchise. As the first of Disney’s Star Wars Anthology Series, Rogue One, carried with it a very different weight than most expect from Star Wars as they ditched the lighthearted tone many are fans are used to. Rogue One goes the opposite direction showing audiences the brutality of war and the cruelty that the Empire dishes out. Felicity Jones’, character of Jyn Erso, relates this cruelty to the audience as she not only battles stormtroopers but loss and uncertainty. The movie is not without its mistakes but director, Gareth Edwards, delivers a film long time Star Wars fans are sure to enjoy.

The original Star Wars A New Hope threw audiences right into the mix as everybody was immediately thrusted into the conflict between the rebels and the empire. In order to do so the famous opening crawl summarized a few of the events to take place just before the movie begins. Countless generations of Star Wars fans and moviegoers have read Episode IV’s opening lines of, “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire…” and it is Rogue One that finally shows everybody this story. Rogue One isn’t about the jedi, lightsabers, or the force, it is about the first taste of victory the rebels feel and the true start to the civil war.

Rogue One opens with Jyn Erso when she is a kid with her father Galen Erso being taken away by the empire to work on a secret weapon. The movie then shifts to Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor,  a rebel spy working to take down the empire. Slowly, but surely a team assembles prepared to take on the empire headfirst. While the first half had a slow pace that unfortunately failed to provide us with connections to the characters, the movies second act turns things around in a big way. Seeing the rebellion on its last leg, its leaders arguing, troops hopeless and the pivotal turn in momentum afterwards is exciting and gives the audience an underdog story worth cheering for. Moments like the rebel fleet dropping out of hyperspace attempting to lay waste to the surprised empire were both memorable and amazing to watch.

In order to maintain the validity of the entire Star Wars story there was no way for the heroes to survive the Battle of Scarif. One by one, each of the main characters is killed, even the sarcastic reprogrammed droid, K2SO, played by Alan Tudyk. The only problem is the deaths didn’t pack as big of a punch as they should. Aside from maybe Jyn, none of the characters are given enough breathing room in the film to be fleshed out. Not only was the death of Riz Ahmed’s, Bodhi Rook, not a satisfying way to kill off a character, it felt meaningless. The audience barely gets to learn about his relationship with Galen Erso or his reasoning behind defecting from the Empire. Rogue One visits more planets than any Star Wars movie before it, unfortunately because of the speed of these visits the characters are rushed and left behind.

A combination of great acting, writing, and a mix of fun and fanservice allowed the lack of character depth to be overlooked. Felicity Jones’ portrayal of Jyn Erso makes the character human and relatable but also hardened, skillful, and inspirational. Cassian Andor’s progression throughout the film is enjoyable to watch as he learns to not become the enemy he so desperately fights. The real treat of the entire film was the final battle. Starting with Jyn’s rallying speech and ending in Darth Vader’s deadly and long awaited assault on the rebels there was    not a moment of disappointment. Each character gets their own moment of heroism with Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe chant followed by the anger and revenge Jiang Wen’s Baze Malbus feels from the death of his friend. The space battle not only looked beautiful but it can be safely deemed the best space battle in all of Star Wars. Watching the classic hammerhead ship, from the Old Republic, push a star destroyer through the shield gate is so enjoyable it makes the movie worth watching again just for that scene.

Rogue One has some flaws, namely an unfortunate lack of depth to what could be really interesting characters. However, for regular moviegoers and avid Star Wars fans this movie is still an excellent movie with great action, fun moments, and the greatest display of the omnipotent Darth Vader’s power to date.

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