I’ll be the first one to say that I’m a casual Star Wars fan at best. I respect the films for the impact they made on culture and I like the overall story of the original trilogy and the themes of the prequel trilogy. The Force Awakens was also one that I really liked. What makes Rogue One different from all the other Star Wars movies I saw was that it made the biggest emotional impact on me.
What I Liked About Rogue One
Why do I love Rogue One so much? It’s honestly the characters.
Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) starts out the movie with a lot of understandable cynicism towards both sides of the war. Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) took a while to grow on me because he was an intelligence officer who will do whatever it takes to defeat the Empire, even if it means doing morally questionable actions. The comic relief robotK-2SO (played by Alan Tudyk) proves to be a useful ally when the situation calls for it. Bodhi Rook is a former Imperial pilot who contributes his knowledge of protocols and technology to the mission.
Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen) and Chirtrut Imwe (played by Donnie Yen) are the characters who steal the show for me. I love their backstory of being former temple guardians. Baze is the weapons expert whose gun is just made of awesome. He also shows to have a big heart underneath his harsh exterior. Chirrut, on the other hand, is the devout, blind warrior monk who dodges Stormtrooper blasts with ease and provides some nice levity to this otherwise heavy movie. His mantra is also my favorite line from the movie: “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.”
Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn) is an intimidating villain and he almost wins in this movie if not for Jyn’s determination. And seeing Darth Vader again sent chills up my spine.
What really sticks in my mind, though, is the third act. Without going into spoilers, the way that the movie ended had me crying legit tears. It shows that wars are not won without sacrifices.
A Tangent on Faith/The Force
Although the religion of the Jedi/The Force is mostly inspired by the monomyth of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces and has aspects that aren’t compatible with Catholicism, I’m glad that the Force acts as more of a metaphor for faith in this movie and not as a deux ex machina that provides the characters with superpowers. Chirrut can’t levitate anything or control lightning. He relied on his heightened senses, his martial arts skills, his staff, and on Baze having his back. And yet his faith in The Force gives him courage to endure the battlefront.
The rest of the Rebel Alliance, though, is kind of disappointing. I understand that they are at a low point and have to rely on mercenaries and assassins to make up their task forces, but their lack of trust in Jyn is what leads to the Rogue Squad’s eventual downfall. I also didn’t like that Saw Gerrera was only around for the first act. I heard that he has a larger role in the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and I wanted to see him growing with Jyn.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention seeing a digitally remastered young Carrie Fisher at the end of the movie. Rogue One ends with a clear transition in which Princess Leia gets the information that the Rogue Squadron worked so hard to get. Even though I’m only a casual Star Wars fan, I felt numb when I heard the news of her passing. I knew she was a woman who struggled with a lot of things that contrasted with the character of Princess Leia. And yet, Fisher was able to eventually have a good life. I loved that she went back into the role of General Organa for The Force Awakens and wonder how the heck they will handle the character of Princess Leia in the sequels.
I will probably be like a lot of Star Wars fans and remember Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Right now, though, the last lines from the movie will be the ones that will echo in my mind the most:
Captain Antilles: Your Highness — the transmission we received. What is it that they’ve sent us?
Leia Organa: …Hope.
May the Force be with you, Carrie.