Why Rogue One is the Star Wars We Needed
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*Author’s note- No major plot details are disclosed below, but minor elements are exposed. The general premise, as well as vague details, are covered, but nothing that would spoil the viewing experience for anyone who has yet to enjoy Rogue One.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was made to be a classic. It had something for everyone- adventure, action, romance, even a bit of wit and humor. That first Star Wars movie started a dynasty that’s still going strong today. Even from the beginning, it was clear what the end of the Original Trilogy would be. The scrappy gang of good guys was always destined to prevail over the pure-evil Empire. The famous opening crawl of Episode IV mentions Rebel spies who stole secret Death Star plans. The rest of the movie shows our heroes Leia, Luke, Han, Chewie, R2D2 and C3PO all trying to get these plans to Rebel leaders, then launching an attack against the Death Star.
The movie was called A New Hope, and for a long time it seemed like this ragtag gang of heroes was that “new hope.” Rogue One changes that by showing the journey of those aforementioned Rebel spies. All along it was the spies who were the “new hope” by giving the Rebellion a fighting chance again, and by fighting even when the moment seemed darkest.
Rogue One was a different kind of Star Wars. It’s the second PG-13 rated film, and it doesn’t have the word “episode” in the title. It was the first film whose soundtrack wasn’t written by John Williams. It was the second not directed by George Lucas, and the first to ditch the opening text crawl. While it still featured fan service, it still definitely stood on its own and would not alienate someone who has never seen a Star Wars movie before. It also patched plot holes left by the franchise’s main movies, and bridged a gap in the story between the Prequel and Original trilogies in a wonderful way that’s sure to please longtime fans.
The Force played a much lesser role in this movie, with most of the main characters unable to wield its power. It felt a lot more “real” as a result, and more relatable, because the heroes didn’t need anything out of the ordinary. All Star Wars movies use hope as a central theme, but Rogue One was grittier and darker- far more so than every previous movie in the franchise. Victory and morality are not as black and white as in the other Star Wars movies, but instead come in shades of gray.
Rogue One as a whole was the perfect Star Wars to end the socially and politically tumultuous year that 2016 became. Bad things happened to good people, and good things happened to bad people. Our heroes weren’t always the people we wanted them to be. From a technical standpoint, the movie did exactly what society needs to do. It looked back and paid homage to those who came before, while simultaneously forging its own way and stepping off the beaten path. The film left behind the familiar in favor of the unknown, and it was very refreshing to see.