By Miguel Iñigo L. Fermin, 13
PAREF Southridge School For Boys
As the first anthology film of the Star Wars universe, I had no doubt that Rogue One would be amazing especially since under Disney, Star Wars has been put back on track with The Force Awakens. I did not expect it to be breathtaking, groundbreaking, and, no sugarcoating, the BEST Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. For Disney to make a movie this bold and dark is a step in the right direction. It’s definitely different from the other entries that all focus on the Skywalker story, and it adds more layers to the universe than any other.
Taking place before A New Hope, the plot of the movie is to steal the Death Star plans so that the rebels will know how to bring it down. They find this out through a message sent by Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen), who is the father of Jyn (played by Felicity Jones), and it was Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed), a defected imperial pilot, who delivered the message. Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) and K-2SO (played by Alan Tudyk) rescue Jyn from an Imperial labor camp so she can help them rescue Bodhi from Saw Gerrera (played by Forrest Whitaker) and Galen, and eventually steal the Death Star plans. Along the way, they are joined by Baze Malbus (played by Wen Jiang) and Chirrut Îmwe (played by martial arts master Donnie Yen). Together, they form Rogue One. They also have to stop Orson Krennic (played by Ben Mendelsohn), who is the man behind the development of the Death Star.
The said characters and the actors who played them are part of what makes Rogue One the most awesome Star Wars film. Through them, I got to understand the kind of “worlds” that they live in. Through Cassian and Saw, I understood better how the rebellion works and their desperation to win. Through Galen and Krennic, I comprehended the role of the empire in the galaxy back then and how the leadership within it worked. I am glad that none of them was one-dimensional.The standouts for me were Jyn as a fantastic lead, K-2SO as a sarcastic and loyal bot, and Chirrut as a wise and awesome blind man. I do wish that they could have extended the movie around 20 minutes longer, so that the characters could’ve been fleshed out more because, with the exception of Jyn, I didn’t really get any tangible backstory with the characters. I felt that that was sorely missing from the movie due in part to what I felt was a rushed introduction to the squad in a very short exposition. Despite that, I’m glad that the film made me care about them.
No matter what you think of the movies themselves, there is really no denying how superb Disney’s marketing for its flims is. Rogue One was rife with promises of being the grittier film that would match the franchise’s theme of galactic oppression and a war waged in the hope of freedom from it. This was done before with Avengers: Age of Ultron promising a darker tone. However, it amounted to not much at all in a movie being nothing more than just a rehash of the first one. I was expecting the same wherein the grittiness of the trailers would stay in the trailers. If only I knew how wrong I was. No punches are pulled in displaying the oppression people suffer under the empire. The movie never shied away from showing death on-screen and the reality of the situations the characters were faced with. Among all the Star Wars movies, this was the one that truly showed the power of the empire and what it would be like to be part of it, against it, and beneath it. It was so realistic in a sense that it exposed the truths of war, such as the destruction it brings and the sacrifices needed to be made to win it. As promised, it takes much inspiration from other war movies.
In many ways, this film was not just different from the typical Star Wars flick in terms of tone. The pacing of the film was quite fast with the plot continuously moving forward. The editing was spot on as seen in the action scenes particularly in the third act of the film. Speaking of action scenes, they were just truly incredible. The entire third act was basically stealing the plans amid heavy fighting. It was a Star Wars version of Omaha Beach (D-Day) from Saving Private Ryan. That alone in itself is already spectacular, but since Gareth Edwards, who is the movie’s director, has an eye for grandeur, he coupled with that, in my opinion, the most spectacular space battle ever. He not only applied this to the action scenes, but also the scenery. For a film that was focused mainly on the ugly side of war, I must say that it was set on planets with some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen. The scale of the planets, ships, and the Death Star, and the raw destruction and explosions and the music were equally magnificent. The film also did fan service right making both subtle and obvious callbacks to Episode IV.
This is a bold new direction for Star Wars movies, and I’m glad they took the risk. This was the Star Wars flick I’ve always wanted, and I think it can appeal to everyone, young and old, fans and casual moviegoers. It’s definitely the most realistic film, and it fits in so well with the other movies despite being different on so many levels. It was also the movie that truly captured the feeling of what it would be like to live in that universe. Great acting, brilliant storytelling, fan service done right, and astonishing visuals with such minor problems earns it a near perfect score from me. Go out and experience this movie for yourself. I hope that you’ll love it as much as I did.