SPOILERS ABOUND. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ROGUE ONE AND DON’T WANT SPOILERS. GO NO FARTHER. HIT YOUR BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER NOW.
SERIOUSLY, I’M GOING TO RUIN THE MOVIE FOR ANYONE THAT HASN’T SEEN IT.
That being said, I finally got to see ROGUE ONE this week and although I didn’t expect it, it gave me all sorts of feelings. Of course there was nostalgia and excitement. Star Wars is one is one of the first films I can remember seeing in a theater, so seeing some of the scenes and characters that I remember really set off the kid in me. Not right away, as the movie didn’t have the feeling of being in the Star Wars Universe originally, even though there were Stormtroopers. Because of the black armor, they didn’t look like Stormtroopers, and with no other context, my brain didn’t register them as the familiar threat.
Perhaps it was the lack of the opening crawl, but thinking about it, it couldn’t have really been there at all. Every opening crawl has been for a chapter, and we really can’t make it say “Interlude” given that there is at least one more film planned in this space between Episodes 3 and 4. Nevertheless, the movie just felt like a science fiction film that I knew a little bit about going in. It didn’t feel like Star Wars until K-2SO showed up. His personality kept the mood lighter despite a
A droid was just what I needed to get me in the Star Wars frame of mind. Shortly afterwards we get Chirrut Îmwe talking about the Force, and looking like a one-time Jedi, but with something obviously in his backstory making it not that simple. This character helped me feel like I was watching a Star Wars movie. I was hooked, and instantly I thrilled at seeing Pondo Baba, Mon Mothma, every X-Wing Fighter, and especially Tarkin recreated using CGI on actor Guy Henry, although his neck looked a little too thick.
However, When Jyn’s father dies the feelings started. They have to leave his body on Eadu, it is heartbreaking. Cassian explains later that they have all had to do some horrible things for the Rebellion, and this movie has already killed off a great number of characters in the pursuit of this story. When Jyn and Cassian’s small group of rebels leave Yavin 4 and announce their call sign as Rogue One, hope surges. We know at this point, they will succeed in getting the Death Star plans, and this hope that somehow we will have a happy ending for at least some of our main characters still hangs there.
Sadly, it is just out of reach, and the feelings start.
When Bail Organa tells Mon Mothma that the agent he is trusting to deliver the plans is someone he”trusts with my life,” he nearly chokes on the words. Jimmy Smits is great at delivering lines in this way, and with those words, Bail Organa’s role in the Star Wars story is done. K-2SO finally gets his blaster and we can almost hear actual emotion coming from this droid that manages to hold off multiple waves of Stormtroopers before finally being overwhelmed, directing Jyn and Cassian to climb to transmit the plans to the Rebel armada. Bodhi, their pilot, has to gather up courage to get a message to the Rebels that the transmission is coming and the shield has to open to receive it. When the master switch needed to transmit needs to be thrown, Chirrut Îmwe begins his mantra “I am with the Force, the Force is with me” and strides into the middle of a hail of crossfire to throw a switch and gets just a moment to revel in his success when he is cut down. In heroic fashion, we see his friend Baze Malbus use take up the mantra in his honor as he goes down killing Stormtroopers. We see Bodhi fall to an Imperial grenade. We watch numerous pilots go down to AT-AT walkers and TIE fighters.
We get one Pyrrhic victory after another. A Rebel ship rams a Star Destroyer immobilized by ion torpedoes into another Star Destroyer to take down the shield. Just when we get those moments, someone dies or something else happens. Cassian, whom we thought dead save Jyn from Death Star director Krennic and as they flee the tower, the Death Star appears in the sky. It’s Krennic who sums up the ending of the film in one look up in the sky as the dish from the Death Star’s weapon points right at him. When Tarkin commands the Death Star to target the Imperial facility, my heart sank. None of our heroes are getting off of that planet. We see Jyn and Cassian in a non-romantic embrace as the wave of fire and destruction reaches them.
As the Rebel fleet goes to hyperspace, Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer comes out hyperspace in their way, destroying several ships and standing in the way of the Mon Calamari freighter that has the stolen plans. Rebel soldiers download the plans to a hard disk but face an explosion on their ship before they can escape with a door partially closing, blocking their escape. We see the blackness illuminated by Darth Vader’s lightsaber. He slaughters these soldiers who just manage to hand the plans to someone on the other side of the door, which is revealed to be the ship from the beginning of Star Wars. It’s exciting to see Vader actually be the imposing physical threat unleashed as pure rage, but scary as well. As the ship goes to hyperspace, we can almost feel Vader’s rage, and knowing the beginning of Star Wars Episode 4, we dread what will become of these characters we have seen already go through so much.
Just when all of this sinks in, we get to see the plans handed off to Princess Leia, digitally recreated to be a younger Carrie Fisher, who gets the last line of the film. When asked what the rebels have given them, Leia responds with one word.
Jeez, in relating this to my wife after the film, I nearly lost it. Carrie Fisher just died, and this ending, although coincidental with Carrie Fisher’s passing, were just too much on top of the emotional ride that I had been on for two hours.
Good call, Lucasfilm, good call.