Arts & Reviews

Rogue One: The Story We Didn’t Know We Wanted

By: Mike Massotto

Like many people, I am a Star Wars nerd. Like many of those Star Wars nerds, I occasionally wonder what great adventures took place between the events of each Star Wars film. What battles were fought? What heroes were born? And what devastating plan was thwarted by the few good souls in everyone’s favorite galaxy far far away? As 2016 came to a close, we were treated with one of these stories in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

For those of you who are more casual Star Wars viewers, Rogue One takes place mere days before the first Star Wars movie ever made, Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). It follows an oddball team on a near impossible mission to steal the plans to a superweapon that is able to destroy planets known as the Death Star. These plans will reveal a critical weakness in the inner workings of the Death Star that allows for its destruction in the aforementioned classic sci-fi film that originally gave Star Wars its fame.

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Early on, the movie introduces us to three heroes. First we meet Jyn Urso, a young female protagonist whose father has been kidnapped and forced to create the Death Star. Soon after, we are introduced to Kassian, a pilot for the rebels who has been secretly tasked with killing Jyn’s father to slow down the production of the empire’s superweapon. Alongside him is K2SO, a reprogramed imperial droid who always speaks his mind and is quick to point out human errors. Later, we are introduced to three more allies: Chirrut, an avid student of the force who has become so intune with it that he has superhuman reflexes; Baze, Chirrut’s friend who ironically doesn’t believe in the force but sticks with him anyway; and Bodhi, a meek and scrawny pilot who is the team’s engineer.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a deep connection with these characters as they hardly mention their names throughout Rogue One (besides Jyn, who is the starring role). However, not all the characters were poorly explained or executed. The star villain of this movie, Director Orson Krennic may be the most interesting character in Rogue One. Krennic is a rising imperial officer who aspires to be the highest ranking official in the empire alongside Darth Vader, leading to him being ambitious and rash when compared to his cold and unforgiving peers. One of these peers that he butts heads with multiple times is Grand Moff Tarkin, who appeared in the very first Star Wars movie. But the actor for Tarkin, Peter Cushing, has been dead for years and what we see of Tarkin is actually CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), which is either disturbing or mind-blowing depending on how you look at it. Nevertheless, Krennic was the character shown with the most personality, and even though he has no fancy lightsaber or a suit of armor, Krennic is possibly one of my favorite Star Wars villains yet.

Rogue One starts off slow and very unlikeable, and it seemed it had the same problem as Doctor Strange did with its beginning, but on a larger scale. With so many characters to introduce, the scriptwriters should have focused less on seemingly random cuts from planet to planet and actually focused on a backstory other than Jyn’s. They did so well with Jyn’s exposition, and it was a shame that they didn’t take a few minutes to create at least some introduction for the other characters that were introduced later, especially Chirrut, Baze, and Bodhi, who almost randomly became Jyn, Kassian, and K2SO’s allies during an action sequence.

As the movie progresses further, it attempts to address the lack of character development, but did an average job doing so. I constantly had the feeling that the scriptwriters were aware that they didn’t explain their characters well enough and were trying to patch up their mistakes from earlier in the film every now and then within the dialogue, which worked to a small extent.

The final quarter of Rogue One was what made this movie great. It gave us the action packed space and ground battles we were longing for throughout the movie, and we finally got to see how the Rebels worked in combat more closely, which comprised of a balance of meticulous planning and senseless risk. Of course we all know that they succeed in getting the Death Star plans, as otherwise the existing Star Wars movies would  never have happened. Rather than discuss any additional spoilers, allow us to move us to the final score of Rogue One and save some surprises for those who haven’t seen it.

Rogue One, although having a poorly executed exposition, turned great by the end of the movie. Despite the characters have a lackluster introduction, their diversity and personalities made up for it, and Rogue One filled a hole that I never knew I wanted filled in such detail as a Star Wars fan. That being said, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be rightfully awarded an 8 out of 10. That’s all folks!

And lastly, rest in peace Carrie Fisher, famous for playing Princess Leia throughout all the Star Wars movies where she was present. Carrie Fisher died over our winter break from a heart attack at age 60, and her mother followed the next day. May the force be with her.

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