Like thousands of other sci-fi fans, I saw Rogue One during my holiday break. Unlike them, I actually didn’t want to see it. Only the recommendations of family members encouraged me to grudgingly give in to spousal pressures. I’m an old-school Luke and Leia fan. I hated the fact that Disney now owns the franchise. In my humble opinion, Disney underthinks and generally screws up most great stories. Hercules in particular had me screaming at the TV within moments.
In truth, Star Wars, The Force Awakens lived down to my expectations and beyond. It felt like a retread (or plagiarism) of most of the old ideas. Loner on desert planet finds robot who needs a friend…. The hero (heroine in this case) discovers the Force and goes on to rise to a savior type, at least locally. Kind of makes you wonder what it is about desert planets that makes Force-enhanced superheroes. Seems to me that the Empire should point their death star at those places.
However, Rogue One was completely different from The Force Awakens. It was original, gritty, and a bit of a downer, which is okay. War is a downer and this film showed that sometimes heroes do their job but still don’t survive.
The main character, Jyn Eros (played by a sullen Felicity Jones) is not really likeable. She doesn’t try to be. Nor is she particularly beautiful or graceful, quite unlike many of the Star Wars women. She simply glowers and kicks ass. Definitely a woman I can relate to.
The male lead, Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) is handsome enough but he is also a rough a-hole who later cares for Jyn without the plot falling into silly lines or an icky, predictable romance, i.e., he is not a Han Solo retread.
The new robot K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk of Firefly fame) is snarky and imposing rather than cute and chatty. No one feels the need to adopt this one like a stray puppy. K-2SO is formidable and certainly less silly looking than the robot soldiers in Attack of the Clones. He’s deadly accurate with his shots, making me cringe at the anti-Asimov behavior.
I can’t say it was a good action story like the 1977 original movie. The two don’t really compare. However, the plot was extremely well done, featuring a number of cameos from that first trilogy nicely CGI-ed in for us fans. It also answered the question of “why would the Death Star have such a relatively easily accessible destruction point?” This film was clearly written by someone deeply immersed and in love with the Star Wars universe.
Hopefully we will see more of this quality in the future.