I’ll admit it. I thought Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the spin off movie and recent addition to the Star Wars saga, would never match the original movies.
And I was right. It doesn’t match up with any of the seven Star Wars installments. Rogue One stands alone in the Star Wars universe, and that may not be such a bad thing. Rogue One discards the script that has been followed by the other Star Wars films, along with many of the familiar characters and planets Star Wars fans know and love. At its core, Rogue One is the most epic, fantastic capture the flag game imaginable played out in the Star Wars universe, and all the action kept me on the edge of my seat until the last frame.
Rogue One takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, when Darth Vader and the Imperials rule the galaxy. Jyn Erso is the abandoned daughter of an Imperial architect who finds herself tangled up in the Rebel Alliance. To prove herself and give the Rebel Alliance hope against the newly built Death Star, she and a cast of determined fighters must steal the plans for the superweapon from the Empire.
The plot does have its deficiencies. The beginning hour is slow, muddled and confusing, and characters weave in and out without really being explored. But when the Rebels, led by Jyn, decide to go after the plans, the action carries the rest of the movie. And even with all the action, Rogue One has emotional depth, something a couple of the prequels missed out on.
Oh, and there’s the action. That’s where this film shines, putting the wars in Star Wars even without lightsabers. The movie feels like the Star Wars video game Battlefront, but with characters you care about and high stakes. The graphics and special effects are over the top, but it makes for a visually stunning film and creates the intensity that makes the action work.
Rogue One stands by itself in Star Wars lore. In the first minute of the movie, the opening crawl is skipped, an immediate sign that something is going to change. The main characters in the originals are relegated to cameos and the only planet from any of the other Star Wars movie shown is Mustafar. That works both ways- the audience isn’t as invested in the new characters, but the plot has flexibility with these characters that the prequels didn’t have. This movie is truly a Rogue One.
The anticipation for Rogue One was lower than Force Awakens last year and rightfully so, but Rogue One holds its own as a fantastic Star Wars movie. The action in this movie is insane and the plot is developed just enough to add depth to the battles. A couple of years ago, I laughed off the idea of a spin off about stealing the Death Star plans. But now, I realize it is a story that needed to be told.