Why Rogue One is an outstanding addition to the Star Wars Saga
Before we get started, if you are one of the people that are yet to see Rogue One I must warn you that while this article will try to avoid excessive spoilers, there will be a number of them within, so beware.
I know what you’re all thinking, and the answer is yes, The Nerd Recites has indeed covered Rogue One already. It was way back when the movie was first released. However, this website is made up of multiple people, each with differing opinions and views and it is my opinion that this movie was absolutely fucking amazing, definitely worth another post offering an alternative viewpoint.
I am such a huge fan of Rogue One and I felt compelled to write about the movie, it being one of the few movies that I have actually gone to the cinema multiple times to see. It has it’s flaws, sure, but I am here to discuss the good and the bad whatever they may be. In this article, I will be discussing the film itself, as well as the most memorable moments for me as a long term Star Wars fan, and the many other aspects of the film that cement Rogue One as a Star Wars film for the ages.
Righto, so, I reckon by now most of you will know the basic premise of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: Some people and a droid steal the Death Star plans. There you go, summed up in ten words. Easy. Okay, so obviously there’s a whole lot more to it than that. What this movie offers is an incredible story based around real people (meaning non-Force wielders), …and a droid, on a mission to bring freedom to a galaxy controlled by tyranny. The Empire is on the verge of a historical landmark; Within mere days, it will have completed the construction of a weapon of mass destruction, one rumoured to be powerful enough to destroy an entire planet. Using this weapon, it hopes to suppress the vast number of rebel-cells that have spawned throughout the galaxy which have now, as seen in a recent episode of Star Wars: Rebels, united into becoming the Alliance to Restore the Republic, A.K.A The Rebel Alliance. The Alliance’s spies have uncovered information regarding the existence of this so called planet killer and it is their duty to ensure this information reaches their leaders post-haste.
When Disney first announced their plans to create an anthology series, I was unsure of what what to expect. Honestly, I was a little apprehensive. The months went by, the apprehension remained. Eventually the title was revealed to the world as well as a brief synopsis of what the film would entail. I was intrigued but I, along with the rest of the fandom, were left to wonder precisely how this film would tie into A New Hope. I don’t really have that much faith in Hollywood, I have to admit. Too many of my favourite franchises have been fucked right over, either by studio meddling, mediocre stories, shitty visuals, and so on, and I was worried that something similar was going to happen here. Then I saw the first teaser trailer. The hype grew and grew as each second passed. I cannot describe the excitement I felt. Still, I had my doubts about the film. It seemed so different to the other films. There were Star Destroyers, X-Wings, Droids, and Stormtroopers, yet there were no Jedi, no lightsabers. This was a gritty war film, only set in the Star Wars universe. The trailers came and went, new information dished out every so often just to whet our appetite. It worked. I rarely bother seeing a film on opening night, I’m not one for crowds really, but I was there in the cinema on opening night all ready to see the next chapter in the Star Wars franchise (along with a rather amazing cup shaped like Vader’s helmet, and a Death Star popcorn bowl) with an open mind. I was not disappointed.
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Not too long ago, I saw a post on Reddit sharing the story of a woman who took her father to see Rogue One in the cinema and she described her father’s reaction to seeing Diego Luna as one of the central heroes of the film (playing the role of Cassian Andor). The lady talks about how her father (a Mexican fellow) was so incredibly happy and excited to see a Mexican actor not only appear in a central role, but also retain his natural accent in a big budget blockbuster movie that became one of the highest grossing films of 2016. You tell me that isn’t beautiful. I love that, and as the lady says herself: “representation matters”. The inclusion of this story does have a point, my dear readers. I would very much like to praise Rogue One‘s diverse cast of characters. So I will: It’s superb. In a universe as vast as Star Wars‘, it makes sense have cast made up from all walks of life. Hell, in a world as diverse as ours it still makes sense. Because this is a Star Wars movie, there is going to be a droid; there are many droids, in fact, but there is one droid in particular that deserves a mention: K-2SO, played by Alan Tudyk. I wasn’t too sure about K-2SO when I first saw the film. I thought he was too obvious as the comic-relief and it felt somewhat forced. Can’t say I enjoyed it too much. Upon subsequent rewatches K-2SO started to grow on me, and I found him less bothersome. Strangely, he has become my favourite droid out of the four main droids in the Star Wars saga (those being K-2SO, R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8), though BB-8 remains the most adorable of the lot.
One thing that crops up online quite often is the view that Rogue One drags on a little too much until we reach that awe-inspiring final act. I must say, I have to disagree with this sentiment. Yes, fine, it can get a little slow, but so what? It’s not boring. Bollocks. I was intrigued by the opening scene which introduced us to the Erso family and Director Orson Krennic (I am yet to read the prequel book of this movie – Star Wars: Catalyst, but I’m looking forward to reading more about these people (I’m still in the middle of reading Tarkin)), I was entertained by Jedha, by the scenes on Yavin IV, and by Eadu, though admittedly by this point the film did need a bit of a change of pace. So far, I am yet to become bored of Rogue One‘s story, and as I mentioned above, I think this film is fantastic, but that’s not to say I’m blind to certain pacing problems, or sub-par scenes. Naturally there are a number of scenes that I could happily watch over and over while others, maybe not so much, but we’ll discuss the film’s issues shortly.
For the most part, characters in Star Wars are either good or bad. Rarely will you see a character in between. Sure, we’ve had falls to the Dark Side, we’ve had redemption, but as far as I can recall, this is the first time that we have seen good characters murder in cold blood. Cassian Andor, a valuable member of the Rebel Alliance: obviously a good guy, right? Well, that’s not entirely the case, is it? While Cassian is indeed one of the “good guys”, he is in no way entirely “good”. I mean, he straight up murders a guy to prevent him from capture, which would obviously risk exposing what he knew about the Alliance. Yes, I know Cassian was reluctant to do this, that he didn’t really feel he had much of a choice, but it’s still murder, c’mon. Still, having said that, he is without a doubt still one of the good guys / heroes of this film, and I think we can forgive him considering he was one of the people that helped secure the plans to the Empire’s not-so-secret weapon. This is something I love about Rogue One. It introduces us to the fact that neither side is truly black-and-white. The Rebels can commit savage acts, just as members of the Empire do. It simply adds to the believability of this wonderfully diverse universe. Tarkin remains a incredibly cruel git though.
I’ll move on to the most stand out moments in the film now, well, to my mind anyway; and firstly, yes, it’s the slaughter of those Rebellion soldiers by the Dark Lord himself – Vader. Rogue One are no more, the Rebellion ships have either evacuated or have been destroyed. In the bowels of a defeated Alliance ship, fear has spread among the troops. A matter of utmost importance is at hand – the gathering of the technical readouts of the Death Star. Once the data has been transferred to a data-disc, their escape can begin. Unfortunately, the ship is fucked, absolutely fucked from the battle, and a door will not open. Ignored by the rest of the crew, the trapped troops stop banging on the door as they turn to face the darkness. Heavy foot steps can be heard in the darkness, accompanied by that iconic breathing we all know and love. Silence. A lightsaber is ignited, and there stands Darth Vader. The panic-stricken soldiers unleash a barrage of laser-bolts at the Sith to no avail. He slices, he dices, he cruelly launches a soldier up into the air and pins him against the ceiling; he passes the trooper only to strike him with a back-swing of that red blade. Holy shit, it’s intense. When I first saw this moment, my mouth was agape. It was exhilarating to see Vader so dangerous, so ruthless. This is one scene that will stick in the mind of everybody that sees the film. Incidentally, it also adds to Vader’s frustration at the beginning of A New Hope. He has chased, captured, and boarded this ship that he knows for a fact holds the Death Star plans, yet the captain and Princess Leia herself have the balls to outright lie to his face. They know he knows, and here they are denying any involvement. That’s brazen. That’s so fucking awesome. You have to applaud the guts on these two.
I couldn’t talk about the most memorable moments of Rogue One without mentioning the Hammerhead Corvette. Fuck my sides! When we first saw the Hammerhead Corvette appear on screen, both myself, and the friend I went to see the film with were ecstatic (we’re both very big fans of KotOR)! Not only do we get to see the return of these iconic starships, but we actually get to see one effectively used against an Imperial Star Destroyer (arguably the greatest starship in the Star Wars universe). Seriously, hark back to when you first witnessed this moment. Did you get chills? Did your mouth droop open? I did, and mine did. I had such a huge grin on my face. What a beautifully spectacular scene. The saddest part, however, other than the destruction of two Star Destroyers, was the unfortunate demise of the Corvette as well as its crew. If you watch closely as the Star Destroyer plummets into the planetary shield, you’ll see that the Corvette is still attached to the Star Destroyer. I think that every supporter of the Rebellion should take a moment to celebrate the sacrifice made by the brave crew-members that took part in this suicide mission. True enough, Rogue One and their strikeforce were the true heroes of the Rebellion at this crucial stage in the war against the Empire, but without the sacrifice made by the crew of the Hammerhead Corvette, Rogue One’s attempt to secure the Death Star plans would’ve been in vain as they would simply not be able to transmit the plans off the planet.
Of course, Rogue One is by no means a perfect movie. It does have a number of flaws, some of which can take you out of the movie in a flash. For me, there’s the issue of the Bor Gullet. Captured by Saw Gerrera, Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) is subjected to torture by tentacle monster.
Right, okay, this is the first thing that bothered me. I don’t know why, but for some reason I cannot accept this kind of giant tentacle monster in Star Wars. They don’t fit into the universe. Okay, yeah, the Sarlacc is fine, the Dianoga (that weird little squid thing that attacked Luke in the Death Star’s trash compactor (spoilers)) is fine, but Bor Gullet and those Rathtar thingies from The Force Awakens? Ehh, no. I just don’t like them. What’s worse is that this one can read minds. Maybe this is thing took me out of the movie because I all I could think of was The Majestic from that one American Dad episode where Jeff is on board a starship full of Roger’s people and, yes, gets his mind read by a giant tentacle monster.
That is but one minor issue out of a few for me. A second issue I had with the film actually took place not too long after the first. As much as I loved the cameos and various references to the other films in the series, Rogue One just went one or two cameos too far for me. The cameo I’m referring to is from Star Wars: Episode VI‘s very own Dr. Evazan and Ponda Baba. During my initial viewing of Rogue One I was fine with their appearance, it brought a little smile, but upon subsequent rewatches and understanding of the movie’s time-frame, it doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not referring to the time between the ending of Rogue One and beginning of A New Hope, but specifically to the time between their brief appearance and the destruction of the holy city. Basically, as soon as Jyn bumped into them, they would’ve had to run from the area, straight onto a ship and fuck right off out of the area before the Death Star erased the city from existence. Again, nothing major, but still worth mentioning. Actually, quickly before I move on, I know a few people have an issue about the fact that at one moment they’re on Jedha, and the next they’re pissing it up in Mos Eisley on Tattooine, but that isn’t really an issue when you think about it: Firstly, we’re not exactly given the precise number of days that pass between their cameo and the ending of the movie, but more than that, we must remember that a number of days pass during the beginning of A New Hope up until their fateful encounter with a lightsaber wielding hermit. That’s actually plenty of time for them to hyperspace away from that doomed city and have a celebratory drink in a dive-bar.
Any guesses for what my third and final main issue with Rogue One was? Oh come on, you must have something. Yeaaah, you got it! The CGI in regards to two particular characters. By now, even those of you who are yet to see the film will no doubt know that both Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia make rather impactful appearances in Rogue One. Now, this has been somewhat controversial among the Star Wars community and the world of Hollywood in general; the reason being the fact that Peter Cushing has been dead for almost twenty-three years at this point in time, and some people are worried that this will be the start of a new trend of resurrecting long deceased actors. Honestly, myself, I don’t really have a problem with the digital resurrection of actors / characters in situations such as Rogue One (as it is a prequel to a decades old movie) as long as it serves the story and isn’t done just for the sake of it, and, more importantly, is done with the blessing of the actor’s estate / family. In regards to Princess Leia’s cameo, this particular ethical issue didn’t exist at the time as Carrie was still with us. It’s worth noting that Disney have since stated vehemently that they will not be using CGI to continue Leia’s story past the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But let us talk about the quality of the CGI characters in this film. As my fellow writer, Chris, states in his original review of the film, the CGI simply feels a little jarring. Don’t get me wrong, The CGI is amazing for what it is, absolutely outstanding, but it just does not hit the mark. There’s something a little off with it, and I cannot tell exactly what it is. It could be the lighting (it’s difficult to get lighting correct in situations like this), or it could even be the eyes. I do not know. Anyway, aside from the ethics of using Tarkin and Leia in this film, the quality of the CGI has also been a major talking point for the people that have seen Rogue One. Remember all of that bollocks about that damn dress and if it was black / blue or white / gold? Well, the debates regarding Tarkin and Leia have been in a similar vein, with some people stating that Tarkin looked completely real, while Leia looked fake, and vice-versa. To me, both looked fake (though Tarkin did look arguably more realistic than Leia did. Truthfully, I don’t even think they went with a great soundalike for Tarkin either, but hey, what can you do? You have to work with what you have, and despite the fact I could tell these two characters were CGI, I fully appreciate the effort put into recreating both Peter Cushing and a younger Carrie Fisher by the team. Seriously, kudos to you all.
In my humble opinion, the pros massively outweigh the relatively minor issues I have with Rogue One, and all in all, Gareth Edwards and the team behind it should be commended, for they have delivered us one outstanding Star Wars movie.
Before we wrap up, I need to discuss both the visuals and the soundtrack. Oh my giddy fuck! The cinematography in this film is on point. There are countless shots from this film that I would love to use as a desktop background! The Death Star firing upon Jedha, the Star Destroyers, the Hammerhead Corvette, Vader’s pre-slicey-dicey stance, and just so many other moments, they’re genuinely beautiful for various reasons. It’s impossible to view this movie and not find at least one shot you like. In terms of the score, I think Michael Giacchino did a stellar job, especially when you consider the ridiculously short amount of time he had to write the music for this film. The man was only given four and a half weeks! Still, this is the genius behind LOST’s soundtrack, so it’s not really all that surprising that he knocked it out the park. There are a number of tracks that I enjoy from the soundtrack, but I have listened to none more than “Your Father Would be Proud of You”. It’s the track that plays during the final moments on Scarif as Jyn and Cassian are atomised. As soon as it was available to buy, it went straight into my music library.
Anyway, that just about wraps this article up. It’s a bloody long one, isn’t it? Trust me, it could’ve been way longer, I’m very passionate about things I like. I never even talked about how fucking amazing the battle over Scarif was (absolutely fucking amazing, if you must know), or Mads Mikkelsen’s role in the film. There’s just so much to discuss with Rogue One, but a limit on how much you can write for an article, and I could easily go on and on. But hey, if you want to discuss Rogue One some more, feel free to leave a comment in the section down below. I’d love to know your thoughts. Oh, and it’s Star Wars Celebration this week, so be sure to check back here at The Nerd Recites for all the latest Star Wars news. Until next time, dear readers, you take care.