I will admit that at one point, I did not think the idea of Rogue One was a good idea. I mean, why did it matter how the Rebel Alliance got the plans of the Death Star in Star War: A New Hope? They just did.
Then I saw Rogue One. I was wrong. It was important to know. It made the original Star Wars better.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) was the daughter of an Imperial scientist/inventor (Mads Mikkelsen) who was taken away from her when she was but a child by the Empire. The Empire wanted Jyn’s father, Galen Erso, to design the weapon that would become the Death Star. Jyn, alone, was discovered and raised by extremist rebel Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). Later in her life, she was recruited by the Rebels to try and find her father.
Without spoiling too much, I am going to leave the story right there.
We are introduced to a series of amazing new characters in this film, as we filled in point of contention from the original Star Wars and built a cohesive story around what did not feel like a major gap in continuity.
Let’s look at some of these great new characters we got in Rogue One. Jyn is an amazing, kick ass female lead who you could relate to. She was deserted as a child, wanting only to find her father and regain what she had lost. She was really well done.
Saw Guerrera was not in the film enough to really connect to him, but Forest Whitaker is always a solid actor. I believe that the character of Saw could be the focus of other prequels. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) had that lovely rogue role that Star Wars seemed to need. I did like the actor and the character grew on me enough to look past him as a han Solo ripoff. However, K-2SO (vocied by Alan Tudyk) stole every scene he was in as a former Imperial droid who was working with Cassian.
Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) was a great addition to the cast, playing the blind warrior dedicated to the Force. He was protected by Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) to the nth degree. Sure, Chirrut is not a new character (Daredevil’s Stick has been blind fighting for decades before), but this pairing brought another classic Star Wars trope to the front.
We also got Riz Ahmed, who was brilliant in this past year’s HBO show The Night Of, as former Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook.
Are all these characters basically constructs from past Star Wars movies? Yes, that is true. However, there was enough chemistry among the cast and enough exciting action to carry the film through. However, I get the feeling that had I read some of the books and stories from all of the Star Wars canon, I might have thought more of these characters than this. For me, they were all basically the same type of archetype that I have seen before.
I thought the film as a little slow at the start as we were being introduced to our new cast, but the second and third acts really picked up. The battles in the third act were full of drama and action. This was a war movie set in a Star Wars universe.
There was also plenty of nostalgia involved in Rogue One. We see toss-backs to past movies, including what looked like the exact location from Return of the Jedi. We see characters we loved make cameos and appearances. and of course…
We know Vader makes an appearance in the movie from the trailer. I think they used Vader a perfect amount. They did not over use him, and when he did appear, he was shown to be one bad ass man. The voice of James Earl Jones is perfection coming from one of the greatest movie villains of all time. Now, he does make a pretty rotten pun that almost wrecked the first scene he was in, but we the second time we get Vader makes up for that in spades.
I also feel that the ending of this film was really well done and was quite brave. To avoid spoilers, I will leave it at that for now. I am impressed how much uncertainty there was despite knowing that the ultimate mission (to find the plans of the Death Star) was going to be successful. I never dismissed parts of this story because I knew that those plans would find their way into R2D2.
Rogue One was a beautifully shot film, and Gareth Edwards, director, does a fantastic job shooting this massive film. I believe that this film fit perfectly in with the Star Wars films, filling in gaps that might have been problematic issues. Rogue One feels like both a different Star Wars film than we ever have seen before as well as a comfortable fit into the continuity and Star Wars world. That is quite an accomplishment.