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Rogue One Puts the ‘War’ Back in Star Wars

Getty Images | Albert L. Ortega

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has finally opened in theaters nationwide, and fortunately for Disney, seems to be raking in the dough, which would actually be a surprise for them, considering the nature of this project. You see, unlike 2015’s Star Wars-Episode 7: The Force Awakens, Rogue One’s story is not centered on the drama of the Skywalkers and their hand-chopping adventures around the galaxy, but an entirely new cast of characters and their struggle to acquire the plans to the Galactic Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star. You know, the one that everyone’s favorite Jedi, Luke Skywalker, gets to blow up in the original Star Wars (damn Skywalkers, taking all the glory).

Hello everybody!👋 What a crazy weekend! Now you will tell me, what was people reactions after watching Rogue One at Red carpet for the premiere? Rogue One': First Reactions From the Premiere "So much cheering during the movie. Audience loved it." Charley Gallay / Getty Stars and fans who were lucky enough to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Saturday night took to Twitter right after the Hollywood premiere let out to share their thoughts. From most of the posts, it looks like the film was a hit with the audience! We remember that many people at the launch of Rogue One criticized the storyboard…Sorry but we always defended it and today we are proud to say that the movie Rogue One is one of the best Star Wars episode since episode IV New Hope!💖 It was told by lucky people who watched the movie! May the force be with you! #rogueone #premiere #starwars

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The story centers on Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a young rogue (no pun intended) and the estranged daughter of the unwilling lead designer of the Death Star, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). After a jail break by the not-so-noble Rebel Alliance (we’ll get to that later), Jyn is recruited by the rebels for a secret mission to find an Imperial defector named Bohdi (Riz Ahmed) who is working with her father to get the technical readout of the Empire’s “planet-killer”, allowing the Alliance to exploit it’s weaknesses and destroy the doomsday weapon before it’s too late. Jyn is accompanied on her journey by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel spy who, while noble in his intentions, often employs shady tactics to achieve them, and K2SO (Alan Tudyk), an Imperial Enforcer droid reprogramed by the rebels to aid the fight against the Empire. Together, they travel to the holy city of Jedha, where they will also meet Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind, Force-worshipping monk, his gun-toting friend, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), and Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), an extremist resistance fighter that has a history with Jyn Erso.

 

Ok, so before I tell you about the movie, I have to explain why I thought it was much better than the safe, carbon-copy of A New Hope that was The Force Awakens. And I cannot stress enough (since many don’t seem to believe me when I say this); I really did like The Force Awakens. It’s a well-made, enjoyable film with fantastic performances and special effects, but looking at it objectively, you cannot deny the level of laziness and fear involved in making the story. In an entire galaxy filled with potential and unique characters and places with tales that have yet to be told…we get another R2-D2 (BB-8), another heroic rebellion taking on an evil Empire (the Resistance vs. the First Order) and yet another Death Star (oh sorry: “Starkiller Base”; totally different!) I mean, wow. Really? Again?

 

I don’t care what anyone says, Disney had NO reason whatsoever to make it that unoriginal. I know they were afraid of incurring the same wrath of older Star Wars fans that irrationally think the Prequel Trilogy was the worst thing since Satan, but c’mon, it’s Star Wars! It was going to make crazy money regardless, so why not give us something new that also happens to be really good? Well, thankfully I got my most anticipated Christmas present early this year.

 

From the first 5 minutes, up to the end credits, Rogue One establishes itself as a different kind of Star Wars film, especially with the lack of an opening title crawl (a bold move). But more importantly, it mixes elements that worked from the two trilogies that make up the main saga of films, save for Episode VII. It takes the dirty, lived-in feel of the Original Trilogy and combines it with the world building of the Prequel Trilogy. And yes, before you ask, it is a little noticeable that were some extensive reshoots, but if you’re worried that they dilute the dark tone and make it more overly family friendly, have no fear.

 

For as much as Star Wars can possibly be, this a gritty war film with high stakes and likeable characters that, although ultimately expendable, have heart, and thus make you feel it when something bad happens to them. One particular standout is Alan Tudyk as K2S0, who shines as the sardonic, dry-humor spewing comic relief who also manages to be really cool at the same time. Many of his scenes were the funniest in the film, which is largely bereft of humor.

 

Of course the rest of the cast does a fine job as well. Jyn Erso had just the right amount of rebellious spunk and compassionate vulnerability to satisfy everyone’s fix for a Han Solo archetype, or, at least the closest you could get without coming off like an asshole. Riz Ahmed effectively portrays Bodhi as a guilt-ridden Imperial engineer who finally listens to his conscience, and Diego Luna made me believe him as a conflicted, battle-scarred rebel agent. My only complaint is that I wish we were given more quiet downtime moments to flesh out these characters a little better, as the movie tends to go from one set-piece to another.

 

The visuals and cinematography immediately transport you to the same Star Wars we got in 1977, but simply updated for modern cinema. When you see the Star Destroyer hovering above the ancient city of Jedha in the midday light, you’ll know you are in the Star Wars universe, and it is beautiful. From the costumes, to the sets, and the creature designs, everything is done perfectly. Digital CGI where it’s necessary and practical effects where it is not. Just the way I like it.

 

Now to get to some of the issues. The first two acts of the movie have some clear issues with the pacing. It hops around multiple planets in the first 10 minutes of the movie, which is slightly confusing and doesn’t let you get a feel for any one of them. The characterization is also a little lacking, as we don’t get to know that much about these characters as 85% of the dialogue pertains to the mission at hand. These are minor complaints however; as the third act is well worth the initial pacing issues and the characters are relatable enough to overcome their shortcomings.

Getty Images | David M. Bennet
Getty Images | David M. Bennet

 

Speaking of that third act, man what a finale! I’m not going to spoil anything, but the third act is where this movie all comes together in a way that is so satisfying! It’s thrilling in every way you could hope for from a movie with ‘War’ in its title. And as you all know from the trailers, Darth Vader gets a cameo in this movie, but is it a wasted cameo, or is he used correctly? Look, I am a huge Darth Vader fanboy. He’s literally my favorite character in movie history. So believe me when I tell you: Vader only has a couple of short scenes in the movie, but when he’s on screen…. there are no words to describe the joy I felt. This movie has accomplished the one thing that no Star Wars movie has accomplished until now: it showed us why Darth Vader is so terrifying and such an unstoppable force. That’s all I can say, but trust me, it was the icing on this delicious cake that put it over the top.

 

Overall, Rogue One is a fun, yet dark war film set in the galaxy far, far away and in it’s last 15 minutes, flows perfectly into the beginning of Episode IV: A New Hope, and even makes it a stronger film. That alone makes it essential to watch this movie in theaters, and as soon as you get home, pop in your copy of the original Star Wars. It’s certainly what I did.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is now open in theaters.

 

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