Damian Gordon/Staff Writer
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” arrives to right the wrongs done by its predecessor and shows how to make a film that is more than fan service, but an example of cinematic brilliance.
The story revolves around the unsung heroes of The Rebellion — the background fighters who make it possible for Luke later to deal with his daddy issues one on one and not get blown up on the way there.
Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) reluctantly finds herself in one of the most crucial missions against the tyrannical Empire. With the help of Rebel soldier, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and a collection of other ragtag strangers under the oppression, she plans a mission they’re likely not returning from.
This is the real “Suicide Squad.” Trying to grab the plans for the Death Star is a suicide mission and these characters know that, making every battle that more intense.
The end battle is the best ground, air and space combat seen in the series thus far. It ramps up right to the final credits when the audience can finally breathe easily again.
Don’t let the laser pistols and spacecrafts fool you, this is a war movie through and through. There’s no fancy lightsaber duels or romantic love subplots, just hard-hitting action to go along with an engaging plot.
After several “f—yeah” moments, “Rogue One” hits a crescendo in an impactful ending which left me with a gut punch.
It’s not a movie with rich dialogue. Instead, it’s a movie of action; you connect to these people, the conflicts and their worlds through what is done on screen.
You don’t compulsively get behind the crew because they’re good guys, you get behind them after seeing what the Empire’s rule has done to their lives and how far they’ll go to end it.
Cassian killing someone in cold blood subtly speaks about him as a person and shows another side to the Rebel Alliance, a gray-middle that will do whatever it takes to end the Empire’s reign.
Jyn isn’t “the chosen one” or a skilled fighter, making her a very relatable protagonist. It’s easy to put myself in her shoes because she’s just another soul trying to get by.
K-2SO is a droid whose purpose is not to sell toys; he’s the heart of the group, bringing levity with his sense of humor and showcasing as much personality as any human character.
In addition to the characters, the sets and locations are beautiful, with the details bringing them to life. Last year’s “The Force Awakens” just copied and pasted environments and story from the original trilogy, then called it a day.
“Rogue One,” on the other hand, created a memorable battleground in the tropical island inspired world of Scariff. Not even war escapes this paradise as the waves calmly brush the sand and bodies continue to hit it.
Perhaps the darkest film in the franchise since Empire, this story is about the sacrifices people make to for a cause they believe in or protect the ones they love.
Two characters who showcase this are Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe and Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus. Even though not much is told about their backstory, their interactions show they will go to hell and back for each other.
This is where the film succeeds. Besides Jyn, we aren’t told much about these characters pasts’, but I was still invested in them and their future in the film. Deeper backstory wasn’t necessary as everyone played their role in telling this collective tale.
This film also has the best portrayal of Darth Vader in the whole saga. For the short screen time he has, I was in awe of his destructive force as he ravaged his enemies.
Vader is now a horror icon thanks to his “Rogue One” role. Never have I felt such chilling fear from a scene more than I did with his.
The biggest question with this movie was, why should anyone care, if we know the ending? However, this film proves it’s not about knowing where a path will lead, but the journey getting there.
The story ties perfectly into “Episode Four,” in addition to showing that the Star Wars universe has more great stories to tell than the Skywalker soap opera.
Standing on its own with solid storytelling, characters and visuals while expertly connecting it to previous storylines, “Rogue One” is a great way to end the year and an even better way to spend Friday night.
Image retrieved from Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/148525563@N02/30240324030/