So, we all saw The Force Awakens. We were all completely blown away the fact that it wasn’t shit. The story was fresh, yet paid the perfect amount of homage to A New Hope. The characters were pitched effortlessly, and the old characters slotted back in as though they’d never been away. And The First Order, well… Our new baddies are every bit as villainous as our previous Empire and Siths, yet Darth Vader wannabe Kylo Ren has such a vulnerability to him it’s hard to believe he’s all bad. Well, it was until he killed his father, drawing him in to a false sense of security only to stab him with his weird crucifix lightsaber. After that, I feel like Star Wars fans all over the world will never forgive him. But, I’m not here to discuss the wonder of 2015’s Star Wars installment, I’m here to drone on about my feelings for 2016’s offering; Rogue One.
Firstly, I must say there is no way that anyone could compare The Force Awakens and Rogue One. The stories are worlds apart, and the tones of each film are completely different. To those saying Rogue One is better, I can only ask how you’ve come to this conclusion? Cinematically, Rogue One is beautiful in every way, as is The Force Awakens. In different ways. Rogue One is standalone. The Force Awakens is part of a huge saga. Even though Rogue One acts a bridge between episodes 3 and 4, no prior knowledge of the franchise is necessary. To fully enjoy episode 7, I feel as though you definitely need to know your stuff. How else are you to supposed to fully appreciate Rey unwittingly calling the Millennium Falcon garbage? Anyway, whatever, I’m not here to try and slag off all those saying Rogue One is the most beautiful piece of cinema imaginable, because that’s an opinion and who am I to disagree? It is beautiful, but it has it’s flaws.
Our story revolves around Jyn Erso, daughter to Galen Erso, who just so happened to be the one coerced into making the Death Star for a certain Mr Vader. Alas, father and daughter are separated when she’s a child and, as an adult, Jyn makes it her mission to steal the plans for the Death Star in order to help the Rebel Alliance destroy it. Throw in the gorgeous Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Jyn’s right-hand man, Forest Whitaker as the mysterious Saw Gerrera and the fabulous new droid K-2SO and you’ve got a film brimming with talent and an excellent, easy-to-follow story that’ll pull you in from the off.
For the very few flaws I picked up on, such as the troubling CGI version of Tarkin and the slight overload of new characters, I also found tonnes of things to enjoy. I’ll start at the end if I may? (Serious spoilers coming here!) I was upset when Saw got blown up with Jedha. I was almost in tears as K-2SO sacrificed himself to help Jyn and Cassian. I actually was in tears when Chirrut passed away. So imagine my heartbreak when the whole goddamn planet of Scarif blew the fuck up, killing everyone; Jyn, Cassian, Baze, Bodhi, Orson. Everyone. All those characters we’d just grown to love (and hate), gone just like that. I never thought Star Wars would get more heartbreaking that watching Han die. But it did. Not even just because of my massive crush on Diego Luna. It was more because I felt like they wanted to die. They’d done their job, and this was their time to go. The Death Star plans got to Leia and that was that. The reason our Rogue One gang were never celebrated as heroes or mentioned in the original saga is because no one knew what they’d been through. They hadn’t been able to tell their story to anyone. And that’s what’s weirdly beautiful about the whole thing. You want a film with a definite end? What’s more definite than all the characters dying? The whole narrative is tied up in a neat little massacre-esque bow, no arguments.
The other thing I absolutely adored about Rogue One is the notable absence of Jedis. It was beyond refreshing. The story was just based on a group of Rebels’ ability to fight. Yes, I know Star Wars is and has always been about the fight between the Light and Dark sides, but I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s a whole lot bigger than that now? If the franchise has stopped at the original trilogy, fine, fair enough. But it didn’t. We were given Siths in the prequels, and now we’ve been given the First Order with The Force Awakens. Something about Rogue One felt so new to me. Whether it was the heartbreak that seemed to weave itself through the whole narrative or the new characters we were given, I just don’t know. But I felt a whole new vibe, and I really loved it.
So there you have it; my feelings towards Rogue One and this new chapter of Star Wars. I am imploring you to go and see this film. Even if you know nothing of the previous Star Wars films, that’s okay, I don’t feel you need to in order to follow Rogue One. Yes, it links to A New Hope, but it’s a unique story all on it’s own. I can only hope that this Han Solo orgins film we’re supposedly getting follows the same format. I hope they don’t make Han out to be anything but the smuggler he was. I hope there is no Jedis, no force, and it’s basically an action movie set in space. Much like I felt Rogue One was.