“Rag Tag Team of Adorable Misfits”
by Rachel Poe
I went to the movies way too much over break; one weekend, I think I went there three times. But could you blame me? We had masterpieces like Hidden Figures and then overrated movies like La La Land so I probably could have spent days just movie hopping. But the crème de la crème for me had to have been Rogue One. I saw it twice and as I’m writing this article, I’m very tempted to go pay money and see it a third time. It’s that good.
Caution: spoilers ahead! (Sorry Meredith)
Okay so for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past couple months, Star Wars dropped their first standalone film in the middle December called Rogue One which was supposed to tell the story of how the Rebel Alliance obtained the Death Star plans that we see in A New Hope, the OG of the Star Wars films. What occurs is a classic ragtag team of a bunch of adorable misfits yelling fight me at the world and it’s awesome.
Hands down, this is my favorite Star Wars movie. I didn’t grow up watching the movies so the original trilogy isn’t nostalgic for me and being a smart person, I completely avoided the prequels. So, my first real in theater experience with Star Wars was The Force Awakens which came out in December, 2015. The Force Awakens was great but I felt like it fell short of something. Truth be told, I was barely a Star Wars fan before I saw it and I was already over this whole Keeping Up with the Skywalkers bullshit. Every problem in the main series could literally be solved by some much needed family therapy.
So what’s great about Rogue One is that it’s not about a Skywalker and we get to see the Star Wars universe from a completely different perspective. The Rebellion is a flawed, struggling entity that gets humanized. The viewer is reminded of the fact that, in war, the lines between good and evil often get blurred. This movie hits a depth that I don’t think Star Wars has ever really reached. The characters were complex and handled the struggle between what was right and wrong way better than any Skywalker could. (*cough* lil bitch Kylo Ren *cough*)
Even without a Skywalker, it still feels like a Star Wars movie. Since it’s set right before the first of the original trilogy, there’s a heavy amount of overlapping characters, sets, and technology and there’s even those quintessential Star Wars themes: desperate power grabs, good vs. evil, familial connections, sacrifice. It’s all there.
But in the end, it was the characters that really made this film. While the plot was solid, filling in gaps from the original trilogy, it would be nothing without the characters. Rogue One’s crew consisted of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), ex-militant rebel and daughter of the creator of the Death Star; Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), top recruiter for Rebel Intelligence, and his sassy, reprogrammed Imperial Droid sidekick, K2SO (Alan Tudyk); Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), an Imperial cargo pilot who is sent by Jyn’s father to spread the news of the Death Star and its fatal flaw; and Chirrut Iwme (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), Guardians of the Jedi temple on the moon, Jedha, whose relationship can only be summarized as old-married, space dads. When I said ragtag, I meant it. The cast had great chemistry on top of the already better than normal Star Wars script, making it stand apart from your average blockbuster movie. They made you laugh, they made you cry, and they made you want a buddy cop movie of K2SO and Cassian.
(I’m really trying to hold in my fan-girling about this movie, guys, I really did just love it so much. But like, I’m pretty sure if you were to make a pie chart of all the reasons why I loved Rogue One, Diego Luna would definitely be like a solid 34 %.)
However, I do have one major critique that isn’t related to how they ALL FUCKING DIED AND RIPPED MY HEART OUT and it’s the simple fact that Star Wars needs more women, especially women of color. News flash @ all movie/TV writers: it’s just as easy to write a female character as it is to write a male. But even though it didn’t have as much female representation as I would have like, it’s still a step in the right direction considering all the stuff it does do right.
What makes Rogue One so special is the fact that it’s the movie we need right now. Cassian, who is the male lead, has a Mexican accent; the entire cast is unapologetically racially diverse; Jyn Erso, the only female member of Rogue One, is never sexualized or spoken down to because she’s a woman; and the entire premise of the movie is fighting back against a fascist regime. Legit, petty fake fan boys were going to protest the movie because they thought it was anti-Trump propaganda. If that doesn’t make you want to see it, I don’t know what will.
Rogue One proves that Star Wars is willing to take risks. First Han Solo and now the crew of Rogue One. None of your faves are safe now that George Lucas isn’t pulling the strings. Rogue One is hysterical, gritty, and a well-deserved addition to the Star Wars universe. With the added diversity, the improving scripts, and the all-around badass special effects, I’m so pumped to see what Star Wars has in store next. All I hope is that Episode VIII doesn’t break my heart nearly as much.