On Friday my friend Michael and I played hookie from work in the afternoon and went to a showing of Star Wars: Rogue One. Going into this film I had only heard good things, so my expectations were a bit high. I tried to keep my hopes low though, so as not to be disappointed if I didn’t like the film. However, I’m pleased to report that I really liked the film, and left feeling like I had finally seen a really great story set in the Star Wars universe, that wasn’t dependent on the main cast of characters to uphold.
That’s all I’ll say before the fold. As stated above I will be going full-0n spoiler in my comments below. I would recommend seeing the movie before reading any further, as going in with a clean slate is well worth it.
Rogue One kicks off just a few short days before the opening events of A New Hope. We knew this story was going to involve stealing the Death Star plans, but I was surprised at how close to the start of Episode IV we get dropped at the end of the film. We literally see Princess Leia’s ship speeding away with the plans, as Darth Vader prepares to give pursuit. Honestly, you could queue up the next movie and flow right into it without missing a heartbeat and it would all make perfect sense. It’s like one big movie.
However, being that close to A New Hope means that a few loose ends needed to be tied up in order to keep the story consistent. If these heroes who stole the Death Star plans were so amazing, why did we never see them again? Because they all died. That’s right. Every single one of the heroes in this movie bite it at the end. That makes this movie unlike any other Star Wars flick to date. There is no last minute shuttle to ferry our heroes away from the impending explosion. There’s simply a hug, and then vaporization.
At first I was a bit torn on this ending. You just spent the whole movie learning and growing with these people, and now they are no longer a part of the continuing mythos. They become a part of legend as quickly as they were introduced. After thinking about it though, I’ve really come to enjoy the ending, as it gives the Star Wars world a lot more depth than we’re used to. It’s not a hero’s journey tale, but a gritty and realistic portrayal of some of the most amazing heroes in a rebellion, giving their lives to keep hope of that rebellion alive.
Honestly, it gives a new perspective on the political situation that world finds itself in right now. Many of the bravest men and women in the world have been lost to us in the cause of freedom. People who signed on to fight for the cause of what is right, and made the ultimate sacrifice to keep the flame burning for others. This isn’t the story about the amazing, and seemingly indestructible Jedi in the universe. It’s about the soldiers who make the opportunities for the Jedi to be amazing. In many ways this is a continuation of the story that has been told in the Clone Wars cartoon series, as the nameless and faceless soldiers get names, as they fight alongside the heroes.
I could go on and talk about the amazing CG of characters long since departed (Tarkin is phenomenal in my opinion) and the overall stunning visual nature of the film. However, I feel like the biggest takeaway for me is that we shouldn’t forget that behind every battle for freedom and peace, there are real lives at stake. As a nation, as we enter into an uncharted era of political weirdness, let’s remember that every person who fights for the rights of those who are oppressed has a face, a name, a story, and a life that may be sacrificed so that we can carry on the cause of freedom in the world.