Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 and Darth Vader have been household names since 1977. When audiences were introduced to an angsty Tatooine kid and a Jedi Knight whom join forces (no pun intended) with a smuggler and fuzz ball to help rescue a beautiful princess, they either opened their mouth in awe at the puppetry and practical effects or simply rolled their eyes while shoving a hand in the buttery goodness that is movie theatre popcorn. Today, almost 40 years later, the Star Wars franchise is still wowing critics and fans alike with the newest standalone film – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
If you have seen the previews, read the spoilers or watched the movie, you know Rogue One follows a small band of Rebels that are on a mission to steal the Death Star plans and ultimately save the universe. Along their rocky journey, Captain Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso encounter a sassy droid, a new brand of Imperial Stormtroopers and some of the most beloved faces of the galaxy from previous films.
Being able to quote A New Hope word-for-word with sound effects, Gareth Edwards was more than qualified to direct this amazing feature. He created beautiful frames that captured the rich greens and browns of Galen Erso’s farm, but he finally answered our question on how the most powerful weapon in the galaxy could have a flaw. Edwards gave us the prequel we always wished for.
With “Boba” as in Boba Fett being one of my first words due to my uncle reading the Ultimate Star Wars Guide to me as a baby, I feel that I have authority when it comes to the world of AT-ATs and Jawas. After watching Rogue One a second time, not only was I applauding as the credits rolled, but I decided it is my favorite film out of the whole franchise. Yes, I believe it even surpasses the trilogy that we have all come to know and love.
Before you send the townspeople on me with torches and pitchforks, let me give you a few reasons I put so much stock into the film. It is a triumph because it portrays the Star Wars world with diverse characters. Continuing the trend of The Force Awakens, we receive a female lead played by Felicity Jones. The co-lead of Captain Andor is given life by Mexican actor Diego Luna. Rounding out this ragtag team of rogues is Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed (Bodhi), Chinese actor Jiang Wen (Baze) and Chinese martial artist Donnie Yen (Chirrut).
Second, Rogue One has a moving script. Each character has a backstory that can be summed up in a few short lines. However, those lines mixed with the costumes, score and backdrop bring everything full circle. Not to mention, we are given quote-worthy sayings like, “Rebellions are built on hope,” “Congratulations. You are being rescued,” and “I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.”
Also, while the original Star Wars and Episode VIII play on the fact that there is only one “savior” who protects humanity and keeps the villains at bay (I am looking at you Anakin, Luke, Rey), this standalone completely erases that idea. When Luke shoots proton torpedoes into the Death Star’s main reactor resulting in its destruction, it was not just Luke’s victory. No, his big win was for Cassian, Jyn, K-2SO and all the Rebels that gave their life on Scarif’s shores.
Last, Rogue One’s ending was something our galaxy has never seen before. Obviously I am talking about how everyone dies. In every saga, we know our heroes will persevere and win the fight. I mean, Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort and married his Hogwarts sweetheart. Even Han, Leia and Luke had a glimpse of happiness on Endor whilst cuddling the Ewoks. So, it is easy for us to imagine a plot in which Cassian and Jyn are protected by her Kyber crystal, transported to a different planet and await new commands from the Rebellion. I could go on and on, but I will leave you with this. Rogue One made the original Star Wars trilogy feel more important due to the lives lost on that fateful day.
Signing off, this is Blue Leader.