20: Rogue One was exactly the Star Wars I hope it would be

Guys, I really love Star Wars.

It’s a franchise chock full of endlessly diverse worlds, hundreds of unique characters and storylines, and action that ranges from spaceship dogfighting to hand-to-hand saber duels. It’s a classic tale of good VS evil, a struggle for liberty from an oppressive government, with plenty of sci-fi tech and mystical religious magic thrown in.

And this has been a very Star Wars week for me.

I’m fresh off seeing Rogue One this evening, and yesterday Carrie Fisher departed this world (and I have so many Facebook friends who are just in such agony over this).

Just a day before that, I was sitting in a restaurant debating prequels VS originals and discussing opinions on the newest films with my best friend, whom I’m pleased also really loves these movies.

I was going to write a post about my cynicism over people’s’ meme and clickbait-ridden reactions to celebrity deaths – but given that Ms. Fisher only just passed yesterday, out of respect I’ll keep that one for another day.

So first, let’s talk about that new movie.

I won’t spoil anything here that isn’t, as I understand, already pretty common knowledge. Mostly I just want to say how much I loved this movie.

Despite being a “spin-off,” it nestles into the storyline perfectly as the direct prequel to the original Star Wars film, now called Episode IV: A New Hope.

Did you ever think to yourself, “Gee, that silly Empire sure did make it easy to destroy the Death Star!” I certainly did. But Rogue One  did a fantastic job of addressing that plot hole and filling it in with a conflicted, passionate storyline.

We meet the engineers behind the ultimate weapon, as well as the team behind the procurement of the weapon plans for the Rebel Alliance.

The main character, a young woman named Jyn Erso, does not immediately align herself with any particular side. She has suffered loss and pain throughout her life, and wants nothing more than to live and be left alone.

But she quickly finds herself entangled in something much larger than herself – she finds a cause to believe in, a goal to work towards, and her sense of what is right and wrong in the galaxy comes to light right before our eyes.

Jyn is not the only character that undergoes this sort of transformation, and one of the highlights of this movie is a large cast of protagonists that are not conventional “heroes.”

What’s more, Rogue One does not disappoint in its repeated nods to the original films. I see no need to list every cool cameo and easter egg scattered throughout – the true fans can spot those on their own. But I was more than thrilled with the callback to the original Rebel fleet, and particularly with the two major appearances by everyone’s favorite bad guy.

I was deeply satisfied by the end – no stones were left unturned, every major character served his or her purpose, and sweet justice was delivered to those who deserved it.

Rating: 10/10. Big time wow. So good.


2 Replies to “20: Rogue One was exactly the Star Wars I hope it would be”

  1. You know, I thought it was a great movie, too, and I believe it makes the perfect movie to kick off a Star Wars marathon. Given what is currently available, this is what I think is the optimal watching order:
    1. Rogue One gives us an exciting prelude to the saga proper, introducing us to the world and the sides of the upcoming conflict without getting caught up yet in any serious character development (although we do get a tantalizing glimpse of the most integral character, Darth Vader).
    2. We are led directly from Rogue One to A New Hope, and the saga we all know and love officially begins.
    3. Empire Strikes Back naturally follows A New Hope, and by now, we are familiar with the major players. This movie climaxes with the big “I am your father” reveal, which of course is meant to surprise and raise questions – how did the most terrible villain father the hero? How did it all come to this?
    4. Flashback to The Phantom Menace.* Essentially an origin story.
    5. Attack of the Clones further develops the characters and plot that we all took for granted until Darth dropped that bomb on Luke.
    6. Revenge of the Sith wraps the flashback up, with Anakin fully transformed and with Luke and Leia as babies. Furthermore, we are now fully aware of something only alluded to up until this point: Darth Vader is not in fact the most powerful villian, but rather the right hand man of the true puppet master, Emperor Palpatine, who will illustrate his evil in the next movie on this list. Now we can wrap up the entire series with a much better understanding of the motivations of of the characters and the machinations of the galaxy at large.
    7. Which of course we do with Return of the Jedi, set perhaps a year or so after Empire. The entire series is brought to a climax in this movie. Luke the hero is brutally put to the test and succeeds, but only because he had the help in the moment of truth from his father, who redeems himself. Does this make up for the terrible betrayal we saw in Revenge of the Sith? Is all put right by this sacrifice? Regardless, the story as it revolves around Darth Vader is finally completed, and now, rather than the cold-blooded villain we met in Rogue One, we are left with the much more complex and tragic story of a fallen hero. Taken all together, these movies tell the story of the betrayal and redemption of one man who had catastrophic effects on the political make up of the entire galaxy not once, but twice.

    8. What about the galactic repercussions of Anakin’s redemption? Anyone who is curious about that would move on to the Force Awakens, which is the final Star Wars movie to be placed in this sequence. Now, there is a new movie set to be released each coming year as I understand it, and I don’t doubt that these movies will affect my marathon order here, but as I said, with what’s currently available, I think this is the best way to watch these movies. I find it’s best to watch the movies knowingly, yet simultaneously imagine that you are witnessing them for the first time in order to get the full effect. I mean, this order loses much of its appeal when you take for granted at the outset that there is a familial connection between the hero and villain. It’s meant to be a twist, and should be viewed that way, no matter how many times you may have seen it.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough now, I think.

    *I think all of the prequels, but especially Episode I, get a bad rap. I for one genuinely enjoy these movies and appreciate what they add to the whole story. For those of you who think that Episode I can be omitted, I strongly recommend reading two things: one, the novelizations of the entire prequel trilogy (the Orig Trig are worth the read, too, but are admittedly not as exciting as the prequels), and two, a book called Darth Plagueis by James Luceno. The latter especially puts into perspective many of the seemingly random events of both episodes I and II.

    1. I have heard excellent things about the novelizations, and about the Darth Plagueis novel – and I definitely don’t take your recommendation lightly, so I hope I someday get the chance to read them. That said, I am not in the camp that despises the original trilogy. Yeah, the romance between Anakin & Leia is somewhat odd at times, but ultimately Anakin’s age in the films and his temper sets him up well for a betrayal of the Jedi.

      I had never before considered your particular marathon order before now – the last time I marathonned the films was prior to TFA’s release, and I did release order (so starting with A New Hope and ending with The Revenge of the Sith). But given Vader’s unique position as the protagonist in the prequels as well as the most compelling villain in the originals, I think your order makes good sense – if I ever have kids, I feel like that’s the best way to show them the films.

      I’m excited to see what the remaining films bring to the saga, and looking forward to your thoughts about whether they alter your marathon order or not.

      Thanks for reading, and more so for the thoughtful reply.

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