|'Rogue One' is a much appreciated 'Star Wars' backstory.
Image courtesy of Disney.
If you haven't seen 'Rogue One' yet, stop reading this and go see it. I have heard a diversity of reviews, and no one I've talked to has hated it. (There's no Jar Jar Binks in here!) My friend Nathan thinks that George Lucas selling the 'Star Wars' franchise to Disney was the best thing that could've happened to it. (Nathan did not like Episodes I, II, or III, and he thinks 'Rogue One' could be the best 'Star Wars' movie yet.)
'Rogue One' starts off showing some very enticing Saturn-like planetary rings in space, and we see a small spacecraft hurling towards the adorned planet. What is missing is the yellow-font crawl that orients the audience to what the heck is going on. (How can you make a 'Star Wars' movie without the beginning story crawl?!)
The music in the movie is hit-or-miss. Parts of it are excellent, but I detest one of the major scores that plays throughout the film. You can hear it when the movie title appears on-screen, and the accompanying music is absolutely lackluster. (Maybe they were trying to under-promise at the beginning of the movie, and then over-deliver at the end, which is really what happens!)
We meet our main character, Jyn Erso, as a young child running on a wet and foggy planet with rich black soil. The incoming spacecraft is apparently not a welcomed event. The girl's father, Galen Erso, appears to be in some sort of trouble with the Imperial officer who was aboard the spacecraft. It becomes very clear that Galen does not wish to go back to his old job with the Empire. Negotiations between the white-caped Imperial officer Krennic and the former science officer Galen do not go smoothly. Galen's wife is killed, and young Jyn runs away to hide in a cave. She is later rescued by the character Saw Gerrera, and we don't see Jyn again until she wakes up in a prison cell as an adult woman.
The pace is fast, and it doesn't let up. My friend Aaron thinks 'Rogue One' is the "worst" of all the 'Star Wars' movies because the character introductions were too fast. He thought Jyn's character was "great" and that there needs to be more female main characters in the franchise.
Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. Photo courtesy of Disney.
"I loved it, I loved it," said my friend Phil. He liked all of the characters,and he said, "it was a very good group effort, instead of one character doing everything." And, he wanted "MORE Darth Vader." It was absolutely thrilling to hear James Earl Jones return as the voice for our super villain Darth Vader with all of his shiny black badassery.
The last ten minutes of the movie feature an all-out, no-holds-barred space battle layered directly on top of an air assault and ground battle on the planet Scarif. The imagery of the Caribbeanesque blue and turquoise waters is just breath-taking, and I especially loved Admiral Raddus' (any relation to Admiral Ackbar?) floating battle chair. He could see everything from his position in space down to the planet's surface through the transparent floor of his battleship.
Throughout the movie, there was no shortage of epic hulking 'Star Wars' war machinery. Star Destroyers, AT-AT Walkers, X-wing Starfighters, the Death Star itself...prepare yourself for a Battle Royale at the very end that rivals any we've seen yet.
I was so glad to see a female heroine that wasn't a princess, or a little girl. Jyn Erso is a true blood-n-guts fully grown woman who sticks to her guns until the very end. And there were at least two female fighter pilots visible in the Resistance.
Other noteworthy additions, (which apparently caused some controversy), were the CG-enhanced versions of the ever-menacing Grand Moff Tarkin and the always-stunning Princess Leia. I enjoyed seeing these characters again, and I think it helped weave this backstory in with the original Episode IV that premiered nearly 40 years ago.
I've seen this movie three times already, the first time on opening night. When the movie ended, the audience burst into applause. (You only get to experience things like this on opening night!) And I still have one unanswered question: what "Jedi in hiding" is Bail Organa referring to when he says, "I would trust her with my life"?