For My Brother
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The original Star Wars is a great film, nothing can change that. What is so shocking about Rogue One is how much better it makes that original movie. Rogue One takes a couple lines that were mentioned in the original movie about a small battle won against the Empire and how the Death Star plans were obtained and it turns that into possible the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. I’ve only seen it once so I definitely will not make any huge leaps about where this one ranks but I will say this one feels the most real.
War has always been right there in the title but Rogue One is on another level when it comes to authenticity and making things feel real. The battle scenes fit right in with some of the best war movies of all-time. The Death Star destroying cities feels like something out of a horror movie, and you can’t help but compare it to the nightmares of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Keep in mind, they are still at the ‘testing’ phase of the Death Star and we never see it actually destroy a planet since that doesn’t take place until the next film. This feels more intimate. You see the bright lights, the mushroom cloud and you’re just left in silence. There’s nothing else to do really. The parallels to the atomic bomb and its creator Oppenheimer are all there with Jyn’s father playing the reluctant destroyer of worlds.
The Force Awakens took a huge leap when it came to diversity within its main cast, Rogue One takes that to another level. Star Wars finally looks like the world looks like today. Yes, there is another female British lead, and no she’s not just a carbon copy of Rey. The second lead is Mexican and so on. But it feels right and in no way shoe-horned in. It’s always great to have people on screen that represent everyone and finally Star Wars has taken that huge step.
Anytime we’re dealing with revolution, war and mass killings, I’m left almost at a loss for words. There is so much killing in the film and sacrifices made and as I said it feels so real. That probably has to do more with today’s technology and the fact that you can make things look so real without really drawing so much attention to things like it was at the infancy of CGI. Of course the effects are there but because they do look so real, you almost don’t even notice certain things. Knowing that this is a direct prequel to A New Hope, you know that things will not end nicely for this rag-tag group of rebels. Even knowing that, you still wonder how far they’ll take it and who will survive. The answer is that they do not hold back and it shocked me to see how little they did hold back. Of course you start to get attached to these characters but also hold back a little because you know that most if not all will most likely not survive.
There are no Jedi in the film, but of course if you’re paying attention, how could there be? This takes place in desperate and horrible times when the only remaining Jedi are in hiding and the Sith Lords rule over the Galaxy with an iron fist even suggesting that the terrifying Death Star, which became something more with this film, would bring peace to the Galaxy…eventually. That said, no Jedi are needed. It’s great that it’s a side story and we almost take a break from the Skywalker saga and instead focus on brand new characters and other corners of the Star Wars universe. We even see brand new locations or locations that we had only heard about, like the Jedi temple or Darth Vader’s lava castle. They all look gorgeous and it’s hard not to be in awe when staring at these places.
CGI has made a huge leap as you’ll see in this film. Technology has been used to literally bring people back from the dead or make them younger as is the case with the ‘appearances’ of a young Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin. It’s a bit exciting a whole lot of creepy. Peter Cushing who plays Tarkin passed away decades ago so seeing him on the screen, getting a decent amount of lines, like I said it’s a bit morbid and creepy and opens up brand new doors as far as where things could go.
This is a war film in every sense of the word. Much like real life, the grunts, the foot soldiers are the reason wars are won while people higher up get the credit. Even on the evil side where Tarkin and even Vader end up getting credit for the creation of the Death Star even though they really only oversee it. It happens on both sides. With the rebels, we see the medal ceremony with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, and it’s much deserved but history forgot the actual heroes and here they are given faces and their due. Without these rebels sacrificing their lives, there is no victory or no more rebellion at all.
I do feel like this one ranks right up there with the best films in the series, but as I said it’s nothing like those films at all. It has no opening crawl, the most diverse cast yet, it has no Jedi and since it’s so grounded and dirty that it feels so authentic. Many Star Wars fans may be turned off by all those things, but it is those things that make this one of the best entries of the franchise and not only that, it makes it a great film.