Ok folks. This right here the other reason that “S” is my second favorite letter when it comes to movie titles, not just today’s movie but the entire Star Wars franchise. Yes, I am a huge fan of the universe that George Lucas created way back in 1977. The original trilogy has always been one of my favorite series of movies to watch while the prequels….not so much. When Disney bought the rights to the franchise from Lucas, I was honestly a little worried about what would happen in regards to new movies, but hopeful, as Disney has done a pretty good job with the MCU. Now, I know a lot of you are wondering why I am starting the Star Wars series with this particular movie. You see, I have a particular order I like to watch these movies in; not just going original trilogy to prequels or starting with Episode I and going sequentially. However, I will admit that I had a bit of a dilemma when it came to placing today’s movie within that order. I actually had a discussion with several of my friends about this before coming to the decision that I should start with this movie, as it leads directly into Episode IV. So let’s get ready for an adventure as we kick off our journey into the Star Wars universe with today’s movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The plot: An Imperial shuttle lands on the planet Lah’mu but it’s landing is observed by Galen Erso, an Imperial research scientist who has been hiding on the planet with his family. Galen’s wife Lyra contacts Saw Gerrera, a Rebel extremist, and tells him what is going on, then Lyra takes their daughter Jyn to go hide but Lyra tells Jyn to keep going while she goes back to help Galen. Galen heads out to meet with Orson Krennic, a weapons developer for the Empire, who wants Galen to come back and finish helping with the development of the Empire’s newest weapon, but Galen refuses. When Lyra returns and draws a gun on Krennic, Krennic has her killed, though she manages to wound Krennic before she dies. Jyn witnesses this and makes her way to a hidden bunker, where she watches the Imperial soldiers search for her but fail to find her and after they leave, she is rescued by Gerrera. 15 years later, Rebel Intelligence Officer Cassian Andor meets up with an informant at a trading outpost on the Ring of Kafrene, who tells him that the Empire is building a planet killer and that a cargo pilot had defected and taken a message from Galen Erso to Saw Gerrera on Jedha. When some Stormtroopers get curious about what they are doing, Cassian kills them and then his contact before making his escape. Meanwhile, Jyn is a prisoner at an Imperial labor camp when she is rescued by the Rebellion and taken to their base on Yavin IV, where Cassian, Mon Mothma, and General Draven ask her about Gerrera and her father and convince her to help them make contact with Gerrera so they can get the information the pilot has and then rescue Galen Erso. Jyn boards the shuttle that she will be traveling in with Cassian and his co-pilot/partner K-2SO but before they leave, Cassian is called aside by Draven and told that he is to kill Galen instead of rescuing him. On Jedha, the defecting pilot, Bodhi Rook, is taken to see Gerrera but Gerrera has become overly paranoid and believes that Rook is a spy sent to tell people where his base is and has him imprisoned and interrogated. Elsewhere, Krennic is summoned to see Grand Moff Tarkin, who is overseeing the final construction of the Death Star, and orders him to find Rook before word gets to the Senate about the Death Star and drives other systems into joining the Rebellion. Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 head to Jedha and see a Star Destroyer in low orbit, with shuttles carrying kyber crystals off of Jedha, which Cassian says is to power their weapon. Jyn and Cassian head into the city to try and find information of Gerrera’s whereabouts and while Cassian goes to speak with a contact, Jyn meets Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior-monk who is a former Guardian of the Whills before the Empire destroyed the temple. When Gerrera’s forces attack an Imperial patrol, Jyn and Cassian find themselves caught in the crossfire and end up being captured by the Imperials, along with K-2 but Chirrut and his companion, Baze Malbus, rescue them only to end up being captured by Gerrera’s men. Jyn is brought to see Gerrera, who thinks she might have been sent to kill him but she tells him she was there simply to help Cassian retrieve the pilot and message and after that, she is done with the Rebellion. Meanwhile, Krennic and Tarkin have the Death Star moved into Jedha’s orbit and Krennic wants to destroy the whole planet but Tarkin says they want to make a statement and says to simply destroy the Holy City instead. Back in Gerrera’s base, Cassian realizes that Rook is in the cell next to them and tries to talk to him but finds his mind is damaged from Gerrera’s interrogation process. At the same time, Gerrera is playing Galen’s message for him, where he talks about the Death Star and how he built in a weakness within the reactor core and says that they will need to find the structural blueprints to discover the location of the core and says they can find them at a data bank on Scarif, just as Krennic has the Death Star destroy the city. The blast causes tremors and sends a pressure wave heading towards Gerrera’s base in the form of a massive upheaval of the ground. Cassian manages to short out the prison door then goes to locate Jyn while asking Chirrut and Baze to get Rook while contacting K-2 and telling him to come pick them up. Cassian finds Jyn and tells her they have to leave and Gerrera tells her to go and keep the dream alive as he chooses to remain in the base and is killed. K-2 picks up Cassian, Jyn, Chirrut, Baze, and Rook and they manage to escape before the pressure wave kills them and as they travel through hyperspace, Cassian contacts Yavin IV and tells Draven that he knows where Galen is and is told to head to Eadu and complete the mission. Meanwhile, Tarkin congratulates Krennic on the Death Star’s capabilities but tells him he will be taking command of the project, as the security leak raises concerns about his leadership. In a rage, Krennic heads to Eadu himself to question Galen and see if he betrayed him. On Eadu, Rook has K-2 and Cassian fly through a canyon to avoid being detected but they hit an outcropping and end up crashing. When Yavin IV loses contact with them, Draven orders a fleet to go attack Eadu in order to kill Galen. Back on Eadu, Cassian goes with Rook to scout the nearby shuttle dock, in hopes they have a shuttle they can steal but after they leave, Chirrut voices his suspicions of Cassian’s true motives which causes Jyn to go after them, with Chirrut and Baze follow later. Rook and Cassian observe Galen on the loading dock and after a shuttle passes overhead, Cassian tells Rook to go find them a shuttle so they can escape. When the shuttle lands, Krennic disembarks with his troops and tells Galen the station is a success, then has him order his staff brought out so he can question them. After asking who betrayed the Empire and nobody responds, Krennic is prepared to shoot all of them but Galen yells at him to stop, admitting he did it. Krennic strikes Galen, then has his men kill all of Galen’s staff before Krennic kneels down and tells Galen about the test on Jedha. Meanwhile, Cassian is prepared to shoot Galen but can’t bring himself to do it and continues to observe when he sees Jyn making her way onto the dock. When he contacts K-2 and learns about the fleet coming in, he tries to get them to delay the attack but it is too late. As the rebel fleet makes it’s attack run, Jyn calls out to her father just as an explosion occurs, Throwing Galen forward while knocking Jyn, Krennic, and his forces off their feet. After the Rebel fleet completes their hit and run attack and leave, Jyn approaches her father and holds him as he dies. Cassian approaches and drags her away, with Baze covering their escape, and they all board the Imperial shuttle that Rook and K-2 stole. As they are flying back to the Yavin IV, Jyn confronts Cassian about his real mission and he said that he had his orders and he disobeyed them but she isn’t satisfied with his answer. Krennic flies to Mustafar to seek an audience with Darth Vader in his castle fortress. Krennic asks Vader for his help in speaking to the Emperor about letting him regain control of the Death Star but Vader tells him that it has already caused more problems and he should ensure that no more problems can arise, force choking him to get his point across. Back at the Yavin IV, the Rebel Alliance is arguing about what their next course of action should be, with several people saying they should scatter while others want to surrender. Jyn proposes that they attack Scarif and steal the plans for the Death Star, or else the universe would have no chance against the Empire but Mon Mothma says the odds are too great. After the meeting is over, Rook, Cirrut, and Baze agree to help Jyn and they find that Cassian has talked to some more members of the Rebellion to get their help as well. They gather their gear and head for the shuttle and as the controller tries to ask them what is going on, Rook gives them the call sign of Rogue One as they take off. Inside the base, Mon Mothma is speaking with Bail Organa and asks him about contacting his Jedi friend and he tells her he will send someone he trust to contact him. Rogue One reaches Scarif and manages to make it through the Planetary Shield and as they are landing, Jyn explains the plan to the group. After taking out the men that come aboard to inspect the shuttle, Jyn and Cassian disguise themselves in their uniforms and head to the main tower with K-2 while Chirrut, Baze, and the other soldiers head out and make plans to provide a distraction for them. While this is going on, Krennic arrives on Scarif and heads to the main tower, demanding a list of every communication that Galen ever made. Cassian contacts the men outside and have them begin their attack and Krennic, seeing the explosions from the tower, orders the garrison emptied to deal with the attack. On the Death Star, Tarkin receives word about the attack on Scarif and, learning that Krennic is there, he orders the Death Star to head to Scarif and tells his men to contact Vader. At the same time, Mon Mothma is told that intercepted transmissions are talking about the attack and she learns that Admiral Raddus has headed to his ship and ordered the fleet to head there and attack. When the Rebel fleet arrives, Blue Squadron heads down to the surface before the shield is closed while the rest of the fleet begin attacking the Star Destroyers around the planet. When they learn that they are trapped on the planet, Jyn, Cassian, and K-2 realize that the only way to get the plans to the fleet is to transmit them to the fleet so Cassian contacts Rook to make contact with the fleet. Realizing he can’t do it without tapping into the Imperial relay, Rook contacts the rebels and tells them to find a master switch while he taps into the communications systems. Jyn and Cassian start looking for the file and when Stormtroopers begin to enter, K-2 seals them in and holds off the Stormtroopers. Jyn and Cassian finally locate the file but the power goes out as K-2 is severely damaged by the approaching soldiers and he tells them to climb to the top of the tower to transmit the codes before he is destroyed. Jyn shoots out the window and she jumps onto the tower with Cassian and they make their way to the file. Krennic learns of the intrusion in the records room and heads there with two of his guards. Opening a side panel, they begin firing on Jyn and Cassian just as Jyn grabs the file and Cassian manages to kill the guards but he is shot by Krennic and falls down onto a lower platform. Back on the beach, the Rebels try to reach the Master Switch but are pinned down so Chirrut heads out on his own and manages to activate it but is then killed, and Baze is killed soon after. Rook makes contact with the fleet and tells them to take out the planetary shield so that the plans can be transmitted but his is killed when the shuttle is blown up by a grenade. Back above the planet, the Rebel fleet manages to disable one of the Star Destroyers and Raddus has a Hammerhead Corvette ram into it, pushing it into the second Star Destroyer and causing both of them to crash into the shield generator and take down the shield. Jyn makes it to the top of the tower and loads the file into the transmitter, then heads out to realign the dish. As she makes her way back, she is confronted by Krennic and she tells whom who she is but when he goes to shoot her, Cassian shoots him first. Jyn transmits the blueprints and the Rebel fleet successfully receive them when suddenly, the Death Star appears. Tark orders the Death Star to fire on the Imperial base and Cassian and Jyn, who have made it down to the beach, embrace each other as they are killed by the pressure wave from the blast. Back in space, the Rebel fleet is preparing to escape when they are stopped by the arrival of Vader’s Star Destroyer, which begins firing on the ships. When the Rebel command ship is disabled, Vader heads over in a boarding craft to personally recover the plans but the Rebel soldiers manage to get them on board an escape craft, a Corellian Corvette, which leaves the area. As they escape, one of the soldiers asks what was in the transmission and Princess Leia, who is on board, says “Hope.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground — and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.” The castle-like fortress that Vader lives in on Mustafar was based on an unused concept that was created after Episode IV was filmed but before the plot for Episode V was developed. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $1.056 billion off of a $265 million budget, making it the second highest grossing movie in the franchise, and earned 2 Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.
This was a great movie and definitely worth of it’s place in the Star Wars mythos. The acting was really good, with Felicity Jones (Jyn) and Diego Luna (Cassian) doing great jobs in their roles and showing a surprising amount of character growth between the two of them. I also liked Donnie Yen (Chirrut), Jiang Wen (Base), Ben Mendelsohn (Krennic), and Riz Ahmed (Rook) were also really good, while Guy Henry did a great job of portraying Grand Moff Tarkin, almost making it seem as if Peter Cushing had returned from the grave to reprise his role. The story was great, working great as an immediate prequel to the original Star Wars, in essence, bringing life to the scrawl that appeared at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode IV. The special effects were great but I also liked how they used some of the old school effects that George Lucas used in the original movie, such as cardboard cutouts of ships to make a hangar look full. Also, that scene at the end of Vader appearing before the Rebel soldiers, with only his lightsaber illuminating him, before he proceeds to slaughter them was pretty bad ass. There is one problem with the movie and that is the desire to pay fan service to the audience creating a pretty large plot hole. See, C-3P0 and R2-D2 are seen in the base on Yavin 4 as the Rebel fleet is leaving to assist Rogue One on Scarif, yet they are on Princess Leia’s Corvette in Episode IV, an impossible feat as her ship was on board the Rebel Flagship when it arrived at Scarif. If they really wanted to play up the fan service, they could have just had them on board the ship as they are escaping from Vader. Aside from that glaring plot hole, this is a great movie and definitely fits in with the rest of the movies.
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5