Rogue One: A Star Wars Story | History of Star Wars


Andy Moser

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Star Wars! To celebrate the upcoming release of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, we are looking back at the past seven episodes as well as Rogue One, all leading up to the review of the new movie. Every day from Dec. 7 to Dec. 15, a new review will be posted. So enjoy, and may the force be with you. Always.

With the sequel trilogy successfully kicked into gear, Lucasfilm was ready to begin rolling out a series of spinoff stories to further explore the Star Wars universe. The first of these was Rogue One, which tells the story of the ragtag team of rebels who stole the original Death Star plans and how they accomplished their mission.

Gareth Edwards, who earned praise for 2014’s Godzilla, directed the film. He and his writers, Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, had to find a way to introduce six brand new characters and develop them enough to where viewers care about them by the end of the movie. While two hours and 15 minutes may seem like an eternity for a movie, it’s really not a lot of time to accomplish such a task. Edwards and his team proved they were up for it, though.

Out of all the new characters, the key was Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). When she was just a little girl, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) takes her scientist father to work for the Empire, the likes of which he had just escaped. On the same day, she witnesses her own mother’s murder at the hands of Krennic and his Death Troopers. The beginning is not exactly as cheery, heartwarming, or hopeful as we’ve grown accustomed to with Star Wars.

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Indeed, Jyn’s story is truly tragic. She waits in a secret bunker (pretty much a big rock with a hole in it) for at least a day before she’s rescued by an old family friend, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who just happens to be a scrappy and rebellious freedom fighter who hates the Empire, yet doesn’t necessarily agree with the Rebellion’s tactics either.

Beth Revis’ book Rebel Rising tells us that Saw looks after Jyn and teaches her how to fight, that is until he abandons her during the aftermath of one of their missions. From then on, she wouldn’t find any semblance of stability until she’s captured and imprisoned by the Empire, where we rejoin Jyn in the film.

Felicity Jones does a fantastic job with her character, conveying her toughness and cynicism that can only be gained through a decade of continual fighting and fleeing, rarely able to trust a single soul. Yet there’s a glimmer of hope in her eyes that she lets slip every now and again, oh so subtly, that lets us know the galaxy and its cruelty hasn’t frozen her heart completely.

Not a bad character stands by her side, even though some are predictably underdeveloped. Every film needs a good droid, and we’re given that in K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a wise-cracking, re-programmed Imperial. His character represents comic relief done right (side-eye to George Lucas).

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Each team member varies in their level of hope, but they all hold at least a spark that is gradually ignited over the course of the movie. Given the monumental task at hand, Edwards does a nice job of attaching us to his characters.

Bold, stunning visuals accompany the characters that will draw absolute wonder from the audience if nothing else. Edwards has a unique knack for scale and he is able to convey the enormous size of the galaxy in some breathtaking shots beautiful enough to wake the dead, you might say. Impeccable CGI is used to bring a character back whose actor has long since passed.

The film also treats us to a deliciously barbaric, vicious Darth Vader scene at the end that had me shimmering in pure joy. The scene capitalizes on an uproariously thrilling third act.

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Darth Vader in his prime is deserving of his own movie.

Rogue One proved to be a worthy story to tell thanks to Edwards and his talented cast, whose cultural diversity should be commended, especially when the importance of such representation is considered in the cultural heavyweight that is Star Wars. It’s dark yet gleaming, bleak yet just the perfect amount of optimistic. It filled a huge plot hole in A New Hope, and it brought me to the verge of tears along the way. This not-so-escapist fantasy is a dazzling entry in the Star Wars universe.


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