Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

The daughter of the man who designed the Death Star is pressed into the Rebellion’s service to find her father and learn more about the weaknesses of the Empire’s newly constructed superweapon.

Rogue One

I’m going to have to do some explaining, rating Rogue One as highly as I do, after I complained that one of the reasons I didn’t love The Last Jedi was that ‘it didn’t work as a Star Wars movie’. I am going to go ahead and argue that Rogue One works so well because, well, it is a completely different take on what a Star Wars movie can be. 

Star Wars is the kind of franchise that doesn’t invite you to think too deeply about it all. By now, in the Star Wars cinematic universe, genocide on a planetary scale is more or less required to establish any antagonist as a credible opponent to our jedi main characters – and its mostly a minor plot point. Although we learned in Episode VII that stormtroopers are literal child soldiers, they fall as abundantly as blades of grass before a lawn mower. Shots of pilots dying in their exploding ships, being sucked into the void of space, are commonplace, and the camera does not linger. Star Wars is a series replete with absolutely brutal violence, but it is sanitised to an incredible degree – all so we can sell little kids lunchboxes featuring the stormtroopers of a fascist empire, or school backpacks adorned with the mask of homocidal maniacs and war criminals such as Darth Vader or Kylo Ren. *sigh*

Rogue One manages to break out of that straightjacket somewhat. It is not Band of Brothers, or The Pacific. But it does put the war in Star Wars. Because the story is that of some of the rebellion’s frontline troops, there is some space to explore the impact of the Empire’s dictatorship on the day to day lives of its inhabitants and the effects of the war on the people that fight it. The stakes are a bit more personal than those of the other Star Wars movies, and therefore a bit more relatable. 

The story is a bit meandering at times, but Rogue One has the great advantage of being a Star Wars movie, so it has great production value and it looks absolutely amazing. Especially the final scenes tying the movie directly into A New Hope are a treat for veteran Star Wars fans, so unlike most of the Star Wars content that Disney put out, I think that Rogue One is a refreshing take that will please the old guard as well.

I was much younger when I first watched the original Star Wars trilogies. Frankly, they didn’t leave much of a mark on me. I should probably give them another try, but haven’t come around to it yet. Rogue One, however, I saw quite recently, thanks to Peter.

In a vast universe with grandscale threats, the story of Rogue One is a rather small one. But just like Peter, I believe this is one of this movie’s core strengths. The characters are no prophesied saviours, but even so… a lot depends on their actions. They are reluctant (anti)heroes swept up by events that are ultimately bigger than them, and they are coping as best as they can.

On the whole, I would not say that Rogue One is a specifically unique or well-told story, but it is charming because it fills up a gap in the well-known history of the Star Wars universe. An enjoyable watch, even if you’re not the biggest Star Wars fan.

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