*If you have any intention of seeing “Rogue One” in the near future, or love the “Star Wars” series more than you’ve ever loved anything and don’t want me to crush your spirits because I know almost nothing about it, do not continue reading. But if the first thing I said applies to you, come back and read this review after you watch the film.
(You can also watch the trailer here or below.)
I don’t know how else to emphasize how little I know about Star Wars. I know a basic overview of the plot and the major characters, but I am in no way an expert. Even though I genuinely enjoyed “The Force Awakens” (2015), you can imagine how surprised I was when I agreed to attend the early release of “Rogue One” in Dubrovnik. The length of the movie, two hours and 14 minutes, was enough to make me question my decision. Why should I sit in a crowded room for 2-hours pretending I have some semblance as to what is happening, when I have to do that in school anyway?
As a complete outsider entering the realm of a Star Wars movie, I was a little overwhelmed. There were a lot of references to previous movies I know I missed. But what I loved was getting engulfed in another world. I loved being on the edge of my seat, caught up in the fast-paced storyline, the witty one-liners, the unpredictability of what would happen next. I loved how easily I could delve into “Rogue One,” even as an outsider with no technical knowledge of the film series.
“Rogue One” was as good as I hoped it could be, (I heard someone say that as they left the theater, and I feel like that’s worth repeating). The main characters were complex, and formed meaningful relationships with each other. You have Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who you don’t want to end up together because that’s too cheesy, but when you witness their final embrace seconds before their untimely deaths, you realize all you ever wanted was for them to be happy together. There’s K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a former Imperial robot, and the source of never-ending comic relief, (until he is also killed). There’s the dynamic duo, Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and Baze (Wen Jiang), who are the ultimate bromance goals (plot twist, they both die).
That’s one of the major themes in “Rogue One:” there’s a lot of death. But the deaths are meaningful; the characters risk everything they have to deliver the Death Star files to the Rebel Alliance. Their sacrifices end in tragedy, but their efforts are not forgotten. My friend explained to me that the events of “Rogue One” occur just before “Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope” (1977), where Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) is in possession of the Death Star file the “Rogue One” cast died to deliver.
“Rogue One” is full of nods to the original series, with appearances from Fisher’s Leia and Darth Vader (James Earl Jones). I can’t speak for diehard fans of the series, but coming from someone like me, the movie is well-done. I would definitely see this again, and it has inspired me to finally sit down and watch the full series (although that may have to wait until after Christmas).