After TROS, it seemed fitting for me to rewatch rogue one – to understand over again why I loved this film so so much. And upon rewatch, I have to say my expectations are blown all over again.
Of course, there are some things I only picked up on this run through. For one, Gareth Edwards, the director of Rogue One, is markedly not the same type of director as JJ Abrams or Rian Johnson. His biggest accomplishment before Rogue One, at least according to Wikipedia, is an indie title, and this spirit shows through.
The music in Rogue One is not as satisfying, gratifying as in TROS. Familiar motifs are played, yes, but they’re twisted and turned. I understand why – it’s a new story, one that deserves a new soundtrack. But the twists and turns come right before the motifs end satisfyingly, just like someone interrupting you when you knock 7 times. The music is also markedly less focused on adventure and excitement, and moreso on sentiment and atmosphere. It’s not bad, just different.
In general, Rogue One has a much more different vibe from the Star Wars formula and I think that’s where it shines. The callbacks Rogue One makes to the original movies feel like callbacks, and not copycats. The white room with the single cylindrical tower in the center where all the Imperial plans are stored are similar to the one where Luke famously loses his hand, “It’s a trap!”, “Gold Leader standing by”, “I have a bad feeling about this”.
The graphics are not as impressive as TROS – but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I say the way they subtly added grain and noise and whatever else they did, managed to make the film seem new yet old – able to stand shoulder to shoulder with today’s giants, and still have a look and feel reminiscent of the original trilogy. It’s heartachingly beautiful.
The setting on the beach is also perfect. It’s not as often explored as a backdrop – deserts, dense forest and stony mountains are visited more often. The parallels between the scenes where Rebel soldiers are running across, when Jyn and Cassian kneel at the shore and Pearl Harbour is so interesting – so unlike a sci-fi like Star Wars, or at least my experience with it. But it works. The message seems clear – the sacrifices of the nameless will not be forgotten. They will not be for naught. Rebellions are, after all, built on hope – something that this movie drives home clearly. It could’ve been cheesy, and it was a little, but it was stirring and glues together the rag tag team of rebels.
The main crew are another huge plus for Rogue One – they have good chemistry and the characters themselves are interesting:
Bodhi, a once-Imperial-now-defected cargo pilot, nervous and jittery but able to conjure up the might for the sake of his beliefs – in the rebels, in his team and in Galen Urso.
Chirrut and Baze, sworn brothers who protect each other, care for each other – and who both have a strong connection with the force.
K2-SO, beautiful K2-SO with his dry humor and innate humanness despite being a droid – his final sacrifice hurt.
Cassian Andor, amazing performance by Diego Luna who gave me a lost rebel who has done too many dirty deeds in the name of good, who finds solace in Jyn and in knowing he has done enough.
Jyn Urso, a strong badass female lead that shows that you can be a badass without abandoning your team, without needing to go in by yourself just because. She does suffer a bit from being a little bit of a blank slate – sometimes there more as a plot device than Jyn Urso, but nevertheless she is a strong character and one that could have more time to develop. In fact, all the characters are strong and deserve to have more time – but ultimately, the time allotted to them is just so, keeping them as fresh and interesting as they can be in the time and with the amount of story they need to pack in.
For one, they are much more special and interesting than Kylo or Rey or Poe. Finn is an exception, his character is unique – a stormtrooper bred to kill, yet defects to the rebels. The struggles he might have faced with his history deserved more time, but alas. (although he was only a janitor, so perhaps that is why)
Of course, as a stand-alone movie, it is much easier to round everything up and resolve everything without having to worry about the next few movies so It’s not a hugeee surprise it is not as messy or convoluted as the new trilogy. But my point stands.
Rogue One is beautiful, a breath-taking, memorable journey that breathes new life into old material, calls back to the original franchise in it’s hay day but makes it new and fresh. The characters are solidly built, well acted, the pacing is just right and it’s one of those movies that will likely hang on me for a long time, much longer than TROS will most likely.
All this try hard Star Wars fangirling makes me want to replay KOTOR…
Side note: The AT-ATs were so fricking cool.