Rogue One does not disappoint

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I, admittedly, had big expectations about Rogue One. It was a concept unlike anything else in Star Wars: a full-blown, live-action, cinematic movie that doesn’t focus on the Skywalkers. When you really go through the franchise, you tend to realize how unique this is: many novels sell themselves by being about a specific character, while the movies focus on the family of Darth Vader, and both TV shows (as well as the 2D microseries, if you count that) have been designed to explore a specific time period around the prequel trilogy.

For those that don’t know, Rogue One is the first Star Wars film in the Anthology subseries of movies. Each of these spin-off titles will focus on some undeveloped aspect of the universe; this movie is about a ragtag group of rebels stealing the Death Star plans that ultimately serve as the catalyst for Episode IV, the next spin-off is about Han Solo, and a third will (maybe, if the rumors are true) be about Boba Fett.

Rogue One defies all of the previously mentioned expectations: its ending scene takes place mere minutes, even seconds before Episode IV, so it’s not like it’s exploring a new, unforeseen time period. Darth Vader is only in three scenes, for a maximum of three minutes each (but it’s still FREAKING EPIC), so he isn’t exactly a central character. And all the characters are original, so there’s no moment when someone says “HOLY QUACK, THEY FINALLY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT*insert character here*!”

However, one of the great joys in this movie is that it has all these neat little Easter eggs that make it a treat to watch for longtime fans. Some will recognize Chopper, Bail Organa, Saw Garrera and Mon Mothma from Star Wars Rebels, Episode III, The Clone Wars and Episode VI respectively.

Sometimes these “Easter eggs” also served as fulfillment of A New Hope plotholes. These included an explanation for why the Death Star had an exhaust port as its weakness (its architect was a rebel forced to make it), and the obvious answer to “how did the rebels get the Death Star plans”.

As for the main characters themselves, they were some of the most unique to come out of a Star Wars film. Jyn herself is the second strong female protagonist the saga has birthed following 2015’s Rey. Her relationship with her father and with Saw create an interesting backstory for her; an Imperial’s daughter, who acts as a criminal, and isn’t affiliated with anyone’s faction.

Her opposite, Cassian Andor, as well as the aforementioned Saw present a certain moral ambiguity that’s never been shown before. Saw is shown torturing a criminal early on for information, and he quickly makes himself memorable for *spoilers* three distinct reasons: he’s half machine and has a breathing problem as a result of an unspecified accident, an appearance he uses to intimidate people; his genuine relationship with Jyn, as she looked up to him as a father figure/guardian, while he saw her as one of his own, and the heartbreak that she was on her own after he was forced to abandon her is very legitimate; and the fact that he is a “rebel extremist”, as Mothma calls him.

In other words, the guy is literally MORE REBEL-Y THEN THE REBELS THEMSELVES. That’s just plain impressive. However, he feels sort of tacked on just so the writers could have a Clone Wars character, but for the reasons above, I’m fine with this.

Older fans of the series will rejoice not just in the presence of Cassian, but the contrast deep in his character. Cassian is willing to shoot and kill who he has to *minor spoilers*, and in his debut scene, upon retrieving information on the Death Star from an informant, he immediately shoots him dead to cover his tracks. This creates a never-before-scene grey moral ambiguity in his character that only proves to enhance the warring setting of the film. However, Cassian is still loyal to Jyn at heart, and it’s a true treat to watch their partnership throughout the film.

One of the absolute best parts of the movie is how an old concept had some of its ideas reworked and expanded upon. In this case, that concept was the Force, and its elaboration was similar to how the Infinity Stones were elaborated upon in Guardians of the Galaxy, how Time Lords were elaborated upon in Doctor Who, and how the Holmes family was elaborated upon in Sherlock, and various other series.

Two of the characters (Jyn Erso and Chirrut Imwei), despite not being Jedi, were able to show a more supernatural side to the mystical energy field we’ve all grown to love over the last four decades. Jyn had a kyber crystal, the heart of a lightsaber and energy source of the Death Star, as a necklace, and every time she had a dream of a memory, she always felt for the necklace, implying it was the source of these dreams. Furthermore, Chirrut, a blind monk that worked for a Force-worshipping society, was able to use the Force to enhance his hearing to make up for his lack of vision. Furthermore, he was able to sense Jyn’s crystal from across the street in a crowded marketplace.

Speaking of Chirrut, he is one of the other members of the “Rogue One” crew that Jyn assembles to steal the plans besides Cassian and Jyn themselves. The other members include Baze, Chirrut’s bodyguard and a sharpshooter/heavy weapons guy/assassin, and Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire who enhances the “grey area” that I previously mentioned Cassian embodies.

Bodhi’s character is especially noteworthy not because he is willing to kill like Cassian, but because it shows how the Empire isn’t strictly “bad”, they just believe that an incredibly powerful government ruled by a single body is the way to go. However, its more politically powerful individuals have become disillusioned, leading to giant space laser cannons.

Bodhi’s character *spoilers*, if you ask me, is just another example of how Star Wars is more layered then Hamelt+Macbeth on steroids. As George Lucas once said, the series “is like poetry; it rhymes”. While he was referring to the prequel trilogy at the time (Luke=Anakin, Leia=Padme, etc.),  these new installments in that series take such a meaning and enhance it. Bodhi seems especially similar to Finn from The Force Awakens, seeing as both are Imperial deserters who end up sacrificing themselves to save their friends (I TOLD YOU SPOILERS) (But Finn’s not actually dead, just hurt).

I found that the main villain, Krennic, was especially boring, and honestly, he had so little screen time that was very valuable, I haven’t much else to say for him. However, the fact that they digitally recreated Grand Moff Tarkin through CGI is amazing, and I believe that his could very well become the future of movies, and his “acting” was amazing, and yet another awesome Easter egg. Darth Vader, as I previously mentioned, rocked it in every one of his scenes as an unstoppable force of nature.

Overall, I loved this movie. I award it a 9.2/10; my only real gripe with it is that, besides a few cool destruction and fight scenes, hardly anything happens in the first two acts besides showing us the rebel base and setting up characters, and I also feel like the number of important females in the movie was drastically smaller then the number of important males. However, I feel like the performances of Felicity Jones, Diego Luna and Donnie Yen (Jyn, Cassian and Chirrut) make up for some of these flaws.

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Rogue One does not disappoint