The dark and edgy new edition to the Star Wars franchise, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” gained the third biggest film debut of 2016 with a whopping $155 million in its opening weekend alone. The movie is not a continuation of the story introduced last year in “The Force Awakens,” but a standalone prequel that teleports fans back in time and overlaps with the time frame of the original 1977 Star Wars film. “Rogue One,¨ though riddled with character deaths and extremely lacking in lightsaber battles, successfully adds an intense and thrilling new chapter to the iconic Star Wars film family.
The entire film is based upon the yellow texted opening crawl of the 1977 original Star Wars film that read: “Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.” This film dives into the epic, action packed untold story of the aforementioned Rebel spies.
Tough and tortured Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), receives a message from her father including plans pertaining to the weakness he implemented when he was forced to design the mega destruction weapon The Death Star. After Jyn and brave rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna ) receive the holographic message revealing the weapon’s weakness, they embark on the mission to destroy it themselves. The two unlikely heros are later joined by Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind man who uses the force as a way of sight, his trusted friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and the pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed.)
No Star Wars film would be complete without an air of humor derived from witty droids, even in this rather somber story. K2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), a witty bot that supplied disheartening statistics of failure with the crew on their journey, provided comedic relief throughout the rather serious film. The movie definitely lacked in the goofiness that “The Force Awakens” supplied, due to the absence of any goofy characters like Finn, or replacement to the iconic witty banter between R2D2 and C3PO. The two bots do however make a small cameo in the film.
Even through the transitioning in screenplay writers, directors and ownership, Star Wars films continue to amaze fans through the production of extremely unique and compelling characters played by talented actors and actresses. The Star Wars franchise also continues to further melt the cinematic barriers of race and gender by bringing these characters to life with a racially diverse cast and refusing to limit characters by their genders. This is also their second film that set a strong female lead to be the hero, something that films in the past have lacked.
Fans will surely be taken aback by the movie’s ability to draw an emotional and personal connection between characters and the audience within only a few hours. Unfortunately, fans realize toward the conclusion of the film that the strong emotional connections were formed to make the copious amounts of death in the film more impactful.
The lack of success granted to the early 2000s prequel trilogy that told Darth Vader’s back story may make long time fans apprehensive to watch another Star Wars prequel. However, “Rogue One” proves to be the first Star Wars film to effectively shed the limitations of having to continue the Skywalker story line and explore the untapped potential for stories that take place in “galaxies far far away.” The rather somber storyline is told at perfect pace, and will likely prove to be a fan favorite as well as a great starting movie for new Star Wars fans.