Science Fiction

Star Wars: Rogue One

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                When I first saw promos for Rogue One A Star Wars Story in the movie theater, I thought, ďWhoa!  This looks like a movie I really want to see!Ē  Sure, it was another Death Star movie, but this movie takes place before the rebels got the plans to take out the first Death Star and the whole feel of the movie was different.  And yet, I never did see the film in the theaters.  I did, however, read the novelization of the film and the prequel book, Catalyst.  Now, more than ever, I wanted to see this film and see it I did!

                As I stated in the last paragraph, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story takes place after the first Death Star was built, but before the Rebels got their hands on the plans.  In fact, this is the story of how the Rebel Alliance was able to get their hands on those very plans.  It all starts with Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a former Imperial research scientist hiding out with his family on a remote world until Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, ferrets him out.  Galen's daughter, Jyn, witnesses her mother get murdered by Krennicís men and manages to keep herself hidden until Rebel Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) rescues her.

                Fast forward fifteen years later when Rebel Alliance Intelligence Agent Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) learns about the Death Star and a holographic message sent by the creator of that Imperial weapon, Galen Erso, to Saw Gerrera via a defecting Imperial cargo pilot Bhodi Rook (Riz Ahmed).  Hoping to convince Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to help them with Saw Gerrera so they can learn more about the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance sends Cassian and his men to rescue Jyn from an Imperial work camp.  To sweeten the deal, they suggest that Jyn may be able to rescue Galen from the Empire, but Cassian is given a covert order to kill Galen instead.

                Their mission to Jedha reveals that the Empire is removing kyber crystals from the holy city to power up their new toy.  After an interesting mix-up in which Jyn, Cassian, spiritual warrior Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his mercenary bodyguard/friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) are captured by Saw Gerreraís partisans, Gerrera shows Jyn her fatherís message, directing her to Scarif and the Imperial data banks housing the Death Star plans.  Jyn, Cassian, Chirrut, Baze, Bhodi and Cassianís reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) barely escape Krennicís successful test of the Death Starís weapon on Jedha.  Though the group finds Galen, and Cassian decides to ignore his orders to kill him, Jyn has little time with her father as he is dealt a deadly blow during a Rebel bomber attack on his research facility.

                When they return to the Rebel Alliance, Jyn wants to steal the Death Star plans from Scarif, but the Alliance Council is not in agreement.  Now, it is up to a defiant Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, Bhodi and Cassian, who brings a few Rebel Alliance Intelligence friends of his own, to prize the plans from the Imperial data banks on Scarif and get them back to the Rebel Alliance before the Empire uses the Death Star on another unfortunate planet.  But are they up to the task?

                Of course they are, but if you are a Star Wars fan, you know that this mission will come at quite a price, ending with Princess Leia hiding those plans inside a droid named R2D2, and we all know the story from there.  If you remember, in Return of the Jedi, Mon Mothma refers to the many Bothans who died to get hold of the second Death Star plans.  Rogue One isnít much different in that aspect, but thatís what makes this movie unique in the Star Wars universe.  This isnít one of those Star Wars films where we lose one or two heroes and all is right with the world.  The heroes triumph, but our main characters Ė well, letís just say this is Saving Private Ryan meets Star Wars.  We get incredibly invested in these characters and realize they are on a suicide mission.  We quickly forget what usually happens to those in possession of the Death Star plans while they are trying to get them to the Alliance, because we actually like these characters Ė Jyn, the tough girl with a heart and a determination to do whatís right; Cassian, the intelligence agent who has committed enough morally iffy actions in his life that he wants to do some good before he leaves it; Bhodi, the goofy pilot trying to atone for helping the Empire; Chirrut, a blind, devout believer in the Force, the Jedi and all of their teachings; Baze, the mercenary and Chirrutís disciple, bodyguard and friend; and even K-2SO who serves as both a badass robot and comic relief, especially in banter with Jyn.

                There were many Star Wars fans who wrote Rogue One off as a way to distract people from the reboot film, The Force Awakens, but I would rather this film than the trilogy they are coming out with now.  This is a film that fills in the gaps and doesnít try to recreate the Star Wars universe.  The characters are likeable and some are rogues in their own right, making them as loveable as that heroic rogue from A New Hope, Han Solo.  No, there is no Jedi action here, no lightsaber play, but there is drama, there is intrigue and there are battles: hand-to-hand, gunfights, explosions and pure old battles of morals.  The actors are wholly believable in their roles and Jyn may not be a princess, but she is perfect as a heroic female character that kids can aspire to. 

                I enjoyed the cinematography and the various locales we were taken to as well.  I did find it a bit strange to see CGI versions of Tarkin and Princess Leia in this film, but with Peter Cushing long dead and Carrie Fisher quite a bit older than the teenager Leia was during A New Hope, I suppose that couldnít be helped.  The fact that a CGI face was placed over the faces of actual actors performing the role was not truly noticeable unless you really looked hard.  Well, maybe in the case of Leia who looked a bit weirdÖsort of like a misty TV screen on top of shoulders.  But otherwise, the special effects in the film were enjoyable and I loved that the powers that be reused a lot of costumes and characters from older films (look for them, youíll have fun finding them). 

                I truly enjoyed watching Rogue One and have a feeling I will be watching it a couple more times in the near future.  This is a unique Star Wars film that I feel is a must see for true Star Wars fans.


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