Rogue One Is The Prequel We Needed
If you’ve ever met me in real life then you already know I am one of the biggest Star Wars fans in existence. My earliest memories all revolve around Star Wars and my older sister even loves to tell me how I was a quiet baby who emerged from a screening of the original film a talkative toddler.
When The Force Awakens was released last year I was all in on the hype, absorbing damn near everything that I could. I still wasn’t disappointed in the slightest by the film even though certain key scenes had been spoiled and of course the general rehashing of plot points from the original trilogy. My love of the new characters coupled with the fan servicing and return of old favorites made for one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a theater, with repeated viewings still holding up a year later.
That being said I barely paid any attention to the advance hype for Rogue One. I knew that the producers had described it as a war slash heist film that would show how the plans for the Death Star were obtained by the Rebels. I’d heard that reshoots had the Internets worried that Disney had lightened up the movie, mainly in order to generate the type of money made by The Force Awakens. Overall though I was clueless to what was going to happen in this joint.
***No Spoilers In Next Section***
From the opening shot which pays homage to A New Hope while explicitly showing that the scale of the Star Wars universe is larger than we have been shown in film, Rogue One both showcases what makes Star Wars great while also moving forward in what can be done in a film about Star Wars. While The Force Awakens set the stage for a new generation to fall in love with Star Wars, Rogue One will generate new fans from every generation. Walking out of the theater me and the rest of the FanBrosShow crew had the same feeling; Lucasfilm can do anything they want right now.
I hadn’t seen Felicity Jones in anything that I can remember but she carries the movie as Jyn Erso and while it is getting a little boring seeing brunettes as the star of these films she both distinguishes herself from Leia & Rey while also completing the hat trick of bad ass women in Star Wars. Diego Luna is also impressive as Cassian Andor with an early scene letting you know that he is most definitely the one who shoots first.
As much as we are used to hearing English accents in space, hearing Diego speak in his thick Mexican accent was just the best to this Texas boy. Riz Ahmed is also great as Bodhi Rook, a defector Imperial pilot who plays a crucial role in the heist. After seeing him play himself again and again as Nas in The Night Of on HBO, it was refreshing to see that he can handle a very different type of role.
The cast in general is top notch with special shout outs to Wen Yiang & Donnie Yen, who not only may have the greatest bromance in the history of Star Wars but also kick more ass than a little bit. Yen’s addition and basically letting him go ham with his years of martial arts expertise is a game changer.
The real show stealer however may be Alan Tudyk in his motion capture role of K-2SO a Imperial droid who has been reprogrammed to help the Rebel Alliance. K-2SO is Kid Fury in robot form. K-2SO isn’t painted black, that’s just his levels of shade emanating from his dark heart. K-2SO forgot where he left his fucks way before this movie started and never goes to look for them. K-2SO is life.
On the side of the villains we have Ben Mendelsohn putting in work as Orson Kennic, the director of the Death Star. Kennic’s character had been more than a mystery to me and besides a few shots of him looking utterly badass I didn’t know what we would get from him. He more than holds his own in a long line of great Star Wars villains and there are also a few surprises as far as exactly who is in charge of the Death Star in the days before we first see the station in A New Hope.
I only knew Garreth Edwards from Godzilla, and while I liked “Let Them Fight: Volume One” more than most, none of that prepared me for how he stepped it up to another level with Rogue One. While there are a some of the familiar touches and moments of fan service, for the most part this doesn’t look like previous films in the series. This is also the first Star Wars film that doesn’t use John Williams for the score or the traditional wipes for transitions between scenes. Garreth also shoots the violence in the film with an eye towards the reality of people shooting at each other with laser bolts of various sizes and intensity. Basically war is hell and while this isn’t Saving Private Ryan it’s closer to the Dirty Dozen than it is to Attack of The Clones.
One thing that has been mentioned recently is how Star Wars is or isn’t a political film series. While I find it hilarious that people can argue that any film isn’t political in some form, Star Wars has always been very implicitly political and Rogue One doesn’t shy away from this at all. What is interesting is that people who are on either side of the spectrum will find a way to make the messages in the film work for them. Trump haters will see the Empire as a reflection of his policies, and people who love that low rate Jabba The Hutt impersonator president elect reject will find a way to make the Empire all about Hillary and her friends. No one is going to boycott this film over politics because they will find a way to see their side as the good guys despite the obvious intentions of the filmmakers.
In a year that has been rough for everyone we have had a few bright spots in the world of entertainment to keep us all going. Rogue One probably isn’t going to change your life or make you a better person but the film’s underlying message is one that we all need right now. As a fan of Star Wars I was overjoyed, but as a fan of filmmaking in general I was impressed with the risks that the filmmakers took in not staying true to what we have known from these films. In the end it was well worth it.
*** POTENTIAL SPOILER REACTIONS BELOW ***
- What the hell was Forest Whittaker thinking or doing with his acting choices as Saw Gerrara? I liked that he played him on the edge of madness but his acting is going to be very divisive me thinks. But it’s also great to see someone accept the inherent haminess of Star Wars and go for it ala The Emperor in the Prequels.
- Grand Moff Tarkin’s eyes scare me. Great job on the CGI in general but we still have a long way to go before they can reasonably imitate humanity. Probably for the best.
- Now that’s a fucking third act word to The Chico Leo. Just when you start to wonder where is Darth Vader during all of this you get to see exactly why he is feared throughout the galaxy.
- I didn’t expect the level of violence or death in this film. I knew going in that it was a suicide mission for the crew of Rogue One but I didn’t expect them to carry through on that idea to the extent that they did.
- There will be hot takes aplenty, from whether or not Baze & Chirrut are more than bromantically involved, to the fact that pretty much every character of color catches a bad one in this film, to the idea that women can’t be as badass as Eryn to etc etc. Ignore them. Go see the film and judge it on your own if you are interested.