Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Successful Blend of New and Nostalgic


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Luke Adelhoch, Staff Writer

Let me just start by saying that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was an incredibly pleasant surprise for me. That is not to say that I expected it to be subpar, but it could have so easily wound up as a filler movie to keep fans busy until the eighth episode of the main series is released in 2017. However, through a combination of great writing, stellar acting, and an amazing mixture of fresh ideas and nostalgia the film delivers.

First, it is important to note that this is NOT a main entry in the Star Wars series. The film understands this just as much as the audience. While it, just like all Star Wars films, starts with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” it does not have the iconic opening crawl, although this may also be due to the film being based on the opening crawl of the original movie. While a viewer should not lower their expectations of quality, they should not expect a new main series film. It is a smaller-scale story and viewers should walk in expecting a very good smaller Star Wars story rather than a sprawling epic adventure, just as the title of the movie indicates.

But on to the actual content of the film, the writing is a good place to start. This claim may be a bit controversial to some, but I personally feel as a writer myself that this film was better written than last year’s The Force Awakens. While both movies are certainly great entries in the Star Wars canon, the characterization and plotting of Rogue One ultimately win out. First of all, the characterization was done incredibly well. While The Force Awakens did have a memorable cast, the lead character was notoriously a bit too powerful to be interesting to many filmgoers. However, Rogue One features Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a flawed and interesting character who is both strong in her own right and plays great off the rest of the cast. Another lead, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is an excellent character as well who displays the less black-and-white side of the rebellion (Not going into spoilers about that) while staying likable. Plus, there’s an amazing supporting cast on par with that of the originals. The sarcastic and brutally honest droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) stands out among several others, who I dare not spoil. There is also the story, which is so full of twists and turns that it is difficult to go into without ruining the film. It is based on the “first victory against the evil Galactic Empire” that is described in the opening crawl of the original movie. Despite this, the movie is deliciously dark and brutal, a large but welcome tone shift from most of the franchise.

Good writing is nothing without good acting to bring it to the screen. And Rogue One was wonderfully cast. Felicity Jones portrays a wide array of emotions as the lead, Jyn Erso, making her a very believable character. The rest of the main and supporting cast do great jobs at well, providing a diverse and incredibly entertaining cast of characters. There is also a very well acted cast of villains, which I won’t talk about too much. However, I can give a brief mention to James Earl Jones reprising his role as Darth Vader. While it was a smaller role, it was also a truly memorable one.

And finally, there is the mixture of new ideas and nostalgia. While The Force Awakens was almost perfectly parallel to the original Star Wars, Rogue One provides an entirely unique story much darker than any other film entry in the series despite being based on a line of text in the original movie. It explores many darker themes not addressed in the main series, and is unafraid to showcase rather brutal action scenes. Also, none of the planets visited are taken from other movies. Each one is new and clearly original, all having their own unique aesthetics and personalities. Despite this, there is a clear feel of Star Wars to it all. As mentioned before, Darth Vader appears as well as several other characters from the original trilogy. There is also the clear sign of the time period that the original film took place in, with the same models of droid and ship showing up in the background for attentive fans to notice. There is a great mixture of old and new.

Rogue One is certainly a movie worth watching for any fan of Star Wars. However, I would not recommend it as a starting point due to it being heavily centered around the events of the original film. This is not the first movie in a series though, so it does not need to be newcomer friendly. For anyone who enjoys Star Wars already and wants a gripping cinematic experience, Rogue One is one great film.