“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”
Warning: this isn’t a spoiler-free review.
Source: Sith Observer
Besides, unless you really haven’t been paying attention to the entire Star Wars franchise, you can very easily guess how the newest Star Wars movie, Rogue One, ends… especially since Luke Skywalker was tasked to destroy the Death Star after being told about a mission that took place prior to his task. (DUM DUM DUM!)
Also, I admit that I’m not a Star Wars fan (yes, continue gasping I truly am blasphemous) but this movie has definitely changed that, for the following reasons.
Rogue One isn’t your usual Star Wars film, and it benefited all the more from its deviation.
While it does start off slow, this is easily forgiven since it gives ample time to explore the context for the show. Once we’ve learnt enough about our lead character, Jyn Erso, and her backstory, Rogue One truly kicks into gear and leaves the audience at the edge of their seats for the rest of the film.
Since we’re introduced to the Rebel Alliance at their inception, we finally see that they aren’t as good as we believed them to be (after watching the original franchise). Cassian Andor, head of Rebel intelligence, admits this and even demonstrates this himself. What truly redeems them is the final battle when they truly embody the words of Galen Erso, Jyn’s father: anyone can make up for their wrongdoing as long as they decide to work for the good.
The show also gives us some of the best fight sequences in the franchise that (shockingly) do not feature lightsabers. Watching a tiny group of rebels outwit and destroy the Empire? Sign me up. The action goes beyond mere gun battles and sneaking around – the true fight is that against time, and watching our heroes race to get what they need. (The Nerd in me feels compelled to acknowledge that this is due to the also shocking lack of Jedis in this film but hey. What can I say, I have a short attention span. Watching Obi-Wan fight the Sith Lord for 6 minutes is way too long for me.)
Moreover, this is also probably the first Star Wars movie not to run on multiple miraculous coincidences (where, just maybe, the protagonist was brought to this alien tavern by Han Solo and wandered into the basement… Wait, this lightsaber was waiting for her here this entire time?? What a turn of events!!). This is something I greatly appreciate because it makes for much better storytelling, and doesn’t suspend the audience’s disbelief too far. Not only does it remind us that rousing speeches can’t always get you where you want, it also pitches its characters realistically. For example, while Jyn would normally have the moral high ground to condemn Cassian’s obedience to morally questionable orders, Cassian’s behaviour is also grounded in the reality of the difficulties of war.
It’s also refreshing to be free of the Skywalker family’s grip. Instead of being thrust into battle after battle where a Skywalker has either caused trouble or is attempting to save the day, we get a rag-tag team of unlikely heroes doing their best to salvage the galaxy. It helps that the cast is diverse, a trend started by The Force Awakens, which I hope continues.
That being said, Rogue One is a prime example of how Hollywood can diversify its cast and market without pandering to minorities. (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, “THE GREAT WALL”!) As though hiring Chinese big shots Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen weren’t enough, Rogue One blesses us by not making them token, Asian characters. Sure, they spout words of wisdom, but they’re hilarious, given depth (their bromance keeps things afloat) and are integral to the mission at hand. They are never treated as the second fiddle.
Ultimately, Rogue One is a show about trust and sacrifice. It teaches us that trust goes both ways, and that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. (See? This is something both Trek and Wars fans can agree on) Even if you’re not into melodramatics, this show is enjoyable for both casual and die-hard fans alike for the many call-backs to the original trilogy.
Hopefully Hollywood takes note of the success of this film, and rebels against the stereotypes and standards that have been seemingly cast in stone.
In the meantime, I’m signing up for the Resistance and am about to re-watch the entire franchise.