Rating: 5/5 stars!
Rogue One chronicles the events leading up to Star Wars: A New Hope, with emphasis on the “Rebel spies” who obtained the Death Star plans that Luke and co. used to save the day. In a mere span of forty-eight hours, who knew so much went on? And who were these spies? Where did they come from? Why did they join the cause? Rogue One answers these compelling questions and leaves me with many more.
I’ll be honest, when I saw the promotional materials for this movie, I wrote it off as another lame way for Disney to milk the Star Wars franchise for more money. I still question the need for a new canon of official Star Wars movies, when there was a perfectly good expanded universe of novels already out there. Weren’t the original six movies good enough? But having seen Rogue One, which is the first of several “anthology” films set in the Star Wars universe, I am pleased to say that my fears have been assuaged for now. There was excellent writing, great characters, great acting, and phenomenal positive messages. Of all the ways Disney has succeeded in taking my money, this was by far the most enjoyable and worthwhile. 😛
In the classic movies, we see the Rebellion and the Empire pitted against each other in a good versus evil fight. The Rebellion are the good guys, and the Empire are the evil guys. From Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia’s perspectives, the Rebel Alliance is shown to contain good, kind people who can do no wrong. But as Rogue One shows, even the Alliance has a dark side.
We are introduced to heroic characters who have done “terrible things in the name of the Rebellion,” and “responsible leaders” who make mistakes that come at unforgivable costs – all to further an ultimately noble cause. Although I still stand with the Rebellion’s fight, it made me question everything I knew about them until this point. Suddenly, the Rebellion became, in a way, more realistic or reminiscent of my world – because in the real, gritty world, many of the good, kind organizations and people we put on pedestals have dark, ugly sides we often only hear about when it’s too late. We question our admiration for them until this point, and depending on how egregious their wrongdoings were, we don’t look at them in the same light.
When it comes to diversity, I think this movie deserves an A+. Among the titular team of heroes, I feel there is a character for practically every person to identify with at some level, whether it’s superficial (e.g. appearance), or something much deeper (e.g. the characters’ personal conflicts). Personally, I saw something to identify with in each character, whether it’s the android Kay-Tu’s awkward conversational skills, or the pilot Bodi’s timidness and his ability to push it aside in desperate times. Each member of Rogue One contributed equally to the group effort in their own way, and were unimpaired by any superficial factors which negatively differentiate them from their teammates. I think their collective presence on its own sends a resounding message to our galaxy for what our society should strive for.
On a final note, I was also blown away by the special effects in this movie, and the way deceased actors were seemingly brought back to life. My jaw literally dropped when I saw Tarkin’s full face for the first time in this movie. These CGI effects melded almost perfectly with the living actors. Lucasfilm’s special effects department has come a long way since the likes of Jar Jar Binks.
Items of Note and Concern
If you’re concerned about violence and other explicit content in movies, please consider the following points before seeing this movie with your family.
In terms of sexual content, I am figuratively jumping for joy at the glaring absence of it. Yes, there is great onscreen chemistry between the male and female leads (which has been further explored by fanfiction writers in ways that I think make no sense), but this beautiful chemistry is, at face value, simply part of a greater teamwork bond that envelops all the members of Rogue One.
If you heard many Bothans died to bring the Rebel Alliance the second Death Star schematics, you should also be aware of how many beings died to bring the Rebels the first set of plans. There are many, many, many onscreen deaths in this movie, some more disturbing than others. I also feel the level of violence on the Empire’s part establishes the extent of their brutality in ways the 1980s movies couldn’t.
- Entire cities are destroyed by the Empire using the Death Star. Unlike with Alderaan in New Hope, we meet many of the victims in prior scenes (including a young child), so this may be particularly disturbing.
- Starfighter pilots are often shown in their cockpits, screaming as their ships plummet and explode.
- Imperial troopers in firing squad formation are shown executing innocent people.
- A child watches as members of their family get murdered by the Imperials and has to escape into a claustrophobic hiding place as the soldiers search for them.
- There is a particularly intense scene where many people are being mowed down by a lightsaber-wielding villain.
- Several well-loved characters die noble, onscreen deaths.
In the Star Wars movies, the Force is seen as a mystical power harnessed by the Jedi and the Sith. They respect it, but they do not worship it. Chirrut Imwe is said to be from an order called “The Church of the Force.” He worships the Force, and is shown “praying” to it using the incantation, “I am one with the Force; the Force is one with me.” I can definitely see how this might be seen as “idolatry,” which may offend monotheistic religious people. If this, or the thought of your younglings repeating this fictional prayer from a fictional religion after seeing the movie, makes you uncomfortable, might I suggest consulting with a religious authority your family trusts before seeing the movie?