‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ brings an amazing perspective on the Galactic War far, far away

I remember the first time that I was introduced to Star Wars. My mother took me to the 1997 remastered edition was released into theaters. Since then, fans new and old have been introduced to galaxy’s beginnings in the underperforming prequel trilogy and treated with a resurgence, starting with last year’s record-setting The Force Awakens. Taking advantage of the possible untold stories, spin-offs were made to shine a light on the corners of George Lucas’ universe.

The first spin-off is about a band of rebels that we only heard about during A New Hope. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the story fans needed to see about the gritty underbelly of one of the most successful film series of all time. 
This story tells the tale of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of a research scientist, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who has been hidden since the Galactic Empire has taken her father. Rescued by the Rebel Alliance, Jyn joins up with a Rebel Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and together, they recruit a ragtag group just as the Empire builds their ultimate weapon: a planet killer named the Death Star with the construction being overseen by Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). With this threat to the galaxy, this band of warriors journey into enemy territory to steal the plans for the weapon and provide hope in the shadow of the Empire.

This spinoff firmly settles itself in the timeline between Episodes III and IV so it does nothing to disrupt the continuity of the series. At this point in time, the Galactic Empire has a firm presence in the galaxy, their troops and ships around the different systems to display their control. The image of a Star Destroyer hovering over the city in one scene is the perfect way to describe the Empire’s presence throughout this film. The movie also gives us more of a backstory to the Death Star plans and how that flaw was placed into the weapon. This film introduces new worlds but also does a fantastic job for introducing the war aspect of this galactic struggle. While we have seen skirmishes in previous films and lightsaber duels, we have never gotten a full-scale luck at the early battles of the Empire versus the Alliance. It reminds you that this is actually a war, despite all that we have seen from previous films.

Each character had a shining moment, but there are characters that you instantly started to care about more than others. Everyone loved the sarcastic droid K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. From his introduction in rescuing Jyn to his final scene, he provided the comedic levity that was needed in this science fiction war film. Another standout character was Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior who believes in the Force. At this point in the timeline, the Jedi are all but extinct (except for that one in solitude in the Outer Rim Territories) and belief in the Force has faded away into the darkness. Despite not being a Jedi himself, Imwe believes in what the Force stands for and has faith that it will protect him. He was the best thing we had to a Jedi in this film, reminding audiences that this is still a Star Wars film. Speaking of the Force, we cannot forget the Sith Lord that makes a decent cameo appearance: Darth Vader himself. Voiced by James Earl Jones, we see the menacing, full-on evil side of the Sith Lord, especially in the final scene. The viciousness and cruelty that he enacts is something that we haven’t seen in any of the previous films.

Rogue One earned critical acclaim and stellar reviews based on the action scenes, acting, darker tone, and visual effects. Director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) did a great job with all of these elements. I think the Star Wars universe needed to explore that darker tone in the farthest corners of the universe that George Lucas created so long ago. This film delves deep into the Star Wars mythology. It is filled with fan service, but fan service done correctly. It provides the spirit and emotional, lived-in feeling that made everyone fall in love with the original trilogy. I watched this film twice and it was phenomenal each time. It’s definitely a thrilling movie with all the the pieces needed to please all fans.

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