By Staff Writers Ella Chen & Jonathan Ko
In a stunning stand-alone movie that sets off the Rebellion as we know it, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fits in between the third Star Wars episode, Revenge of the Sith, and A New Hope, the beginning of the original series. The film tells the tale of how Rebel forces steal the plans and find the fatal flaw of the Death Star, a planet-destroying weapon designed to bring the galaxy completely under the Empire’s control.
The screen opens up with the familiar neon words bidding us to “a galaxy far, far away.” Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is only a child when Imperial forces come to her home planet and coerce her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), back into his former position as an Imperial scientist. She escapes by hiding under a rock until Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), her father’s close friend, finds her and raises her until she is old enough to protect herself. Years later, a much older Jyn wakes up as an Imperial prisoner, saved by members of the Rebel Alliance only because they hope she is the key to finding her father’s whereabouts. The Alliance Advisory Council offers Jyn a deal: if she finds Saw and discovers details about her father’s location and connection to the Death Star, she is free to go.
Thus, Jyn embarks on a journey with Rebel Alliance Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna). His reprogrammed Imperial droid, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), provides a much-needed humorous voice in an unusually morbid film. Along her heroic journey to the data center containing the original Death Star plans, Jyn endeavors against the efforts of Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the Director who oversees construction of the Death Star.
The film is mainly characterized by breathtaking visuals and heart-stopping action. Considerably darker than any movies from the main saga, Rogue One features a great deal of hand-to-hand combat, which complements the classic space dogfighting well. Viewers are treated to astonishing computer-generated imagery, including the destruction of entire cities and the collision of two massive star destroyers.
Nostalgia is used heavily throughout the movie, especially toward the end. Many scenes reveal the return of several characters from the original movies, including Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) and Governor Grand Moff Tarkin (Guy Henry).
Because Rogue One stands alone from the main saga, Director Gareth Edwards has a little more than two hours to introduce the multiracial cast and push them along the plot without pausing too much to develop any one particular character. As the main protagonist, Jyn is the only truly dynamic character who we see overcome grief and remain resilient in the face of tragedy. Even Captain Cassian, who shares a large chunk of screen time, is often portrayed as only heroic; no time is devoted to helping the audience understand his personal connection to the Rebellion. Of the considerable supporting cast, an overwhelming number are flat characters who do not change throughout the film. Likewise, the plot lacks depth, taking a rather formulaic approach to Jyn’s heroic ascension from prisoner to savior.
Overall, Rogue One serves as an excellent bridge between the Star Wars prequels and original movies. With a surprising ending that transitions directly into A New Hope, audiences are sure to be at the edge of their seats during this thrilling emotional roller coaster and anticipating their next year’s adventure back into the Star Wars galaxy.
Photo by konbini.com