Over the years, people have asked as to why no one can recognize Clark Kent as Superman, the Kryptonian caped-crusader. When all he does is hide behind a pair of nerdy glasses. And comic book nerds in answer have provided us the “science” / plausibility of Superman’s disguise of choice, as nerds are won’t to do. In the same way, Star Wars nerds have been asking why the hell The Empire created a weapon of mass destruction with an Achilles heel. Perhaps the designer didn’t know a design flaw existed in his creation? Perhaps he made a boo boo? How did Leia come across the blueprints of the Death Star? Now these age-old nerd questions have finally been answered in the form of Rogue One. I mean, not that we were looking for an explanation. But I admit, it does bring everything full circle.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a Star Wars movie, and it is not. You can tell that it is, in many ways, a classic Star Wars movie. The wonderful musical score harks back to Lucas’ original trilogy. And the action sequences too, feel like they have been deliberately staged to have a close resemblance to its 80s predecessors. They are less stylistic and a little bit rough around the edges, just like how it was in the original. You know, like when a bunch of stormtroopers simultaneously gets thrown around like sacks of potatoes. It’s pretty adorable. Also adorable is the very conspicuous master switch located smack dab in the middle of the beach, with no housing whatsoever. And I can’t help but feel teary-eyed when the jump to hyperspace was exactly how it was too. And yet, this movie also feels of this age. It is like a war film reflective of our current time. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the complaints was that is was more of a rehash of A New Hope. Albeit a pretty good rehash, but still very much a bit of a rehash. Rogue One not being a part of the episodic saga, feels like a self-contained movie with an actual ending. It is also darker and grittier than it’s predecessors. It is a different Star Wars experience and I love it.
Now, we have all seen a Death Star laser beam a planet into smithereens. One minute it’s there, and then poof, nothing but space dust. But we have always seen this scene from the outside. Rogue One shows us what it’s like on the inside. And boy, it is not as quick as “poof”. The ground upends, the seas spill over. It’s like the end of the darned world. Because it actually is. Star Wars to me has always been fun and fanciful. It is a space opera, hence it is melodramatic as hell. But with Rogue One, Lucas’ sci-fi world feels more realistic. I feel like the stakes have suddenly become higher and more serious to me. This is “the galaxy far, far away”, a fictional one at that, and yet I can feel that this is something that could happen to us. What with terrorism and rebellion and climate change. Like I said, it is a movie of this time, and also not.
Regarding the characters, I don’t think they are as magnetic as the ones in The Force Awakens. I mean, they do an okay job. It’s Jyn Erso (played by a disheveled, but still gorgeous Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (played by the Diego Luna in a way that is reminiscent of a French spy) who gets to have the most screen time, and together they make an odd, but quite an effective pair. Because while they have the same goal of taking down the death star, for Jyn it is a means of executing her father’s vegeance (and perhaps her own revenge too). Toppling the Empire matters less to her than seeking revenge. And I feel that once that’s done, Jyn would bow out of the Rebel Alliance. But to Cassian Andor, he has been in this fight since he was 6 years old. For him, it has always been about the “cause”. We get this two people with the same goal but different motivations. It is quite interesting to watch. But individually, I think they can be a bit plain-vanilla. But thankfully there’s K2SO who adds a bit of spice into the adventure. I can’t say much about the rest of the ragtag Rogue One gang. Except perhaps how conscious the casting directors were of including a variety of races, which is a good thing. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe perhaps stands out, as a blind warrior, and the only person ever inciting “The Force”, and for his bad-ass action sequences. But again, there isn’t room for a deeper character development for him. And then there’s Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, who can make white capes feel terrifying.
All things considered, I think The Force is strong with Rogue One. Episode 8, here we come!
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars