‘Rogue One’ offers powerful allegory

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Image courtesy of LucasFilm

Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away a galactic empire is amassing a massive space-station, known as the Death Star, with the power to destroy entire planets. The Death Star’s progress is almost complete but it has yet to have been used at full capacity. A rebel alliance is forming with a mission to eliminate Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who is the Death Star designer and head scientist for the Empire but secretly wants to bring about its destruction. His daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) becomes targeted by the Rebels as a way to locate her father. When she receives a message from her father that he has designed a fatal weakness in the Death Star she gathers a team to sneak into a covert Imperial base to steal the plans.

“Star Wars” has become more than just a film franchise. It’s a cultural touchstone. Something so engrained into the psyche of modern life that lines like “May the Force be with you” are familiar to people who have never set eyes on a “Star Wars” film. After Disney acquired the full rights to produce films for the franchise many fans were rightfully scared. Would the mouse himself dive their beloved films straight into the ground? The films studio’s freshman affair was done well-enough, but it wasn’t a new and original take on the “Star Wars” canon. Focusing on the familiar in order to develop the new characters and general path of the new storyline. The studio’s sophomore event proves that Disney is made of the right stuff. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is jam-packed with beautiful visuals, fantastic character work, amazing action, and an incredibly uplifting message about the power of resistance.

The acting in the film is tremendous, as are its central characters. The ensemble cast is a tad too large, with too much focus being directed at characters and moments that could have been utilized to grow and develop the central characters a bit more. There is emotion and strength in each member of this diverse cast. Jyn Erso is incredibly strong and entertaining, with just the right amount of sass to make her endearing but not obnoxious. Jones plays her perfectly and brings another positive female role model to the Star Wars canon. Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, and Jiang Wen all deserve praise for their fantastic portrayals and devotion to the unique personas of their characters.

The cast is diverse and interesting with some of the most unique personas ever put in a “Star Wars” film. They don’t fell immensely powerful like other main characters of the franchise. They feel broken and weak, brought low by the war. Yet, their weakness defines and makes their strengths so much more noticeable and they are all the better for it.

“Rogue One” feels immensely different from any other “Star Wars” film to date. While the “Star Wars” movies we know usually focus on an adventure tale with heavy sci-fi and fantasy elements, “Rogue One” is more of an espionage, military film. The other films in the “Star Wars” canon focused heavily on the Jedi and the Skywalker family while “Rogue One” is content to fully ground itself in the military operations and fighting between the Rebels and the Empire. By doing this the film takes an incredibly political tone.

“Rogue One” is not content to be silent. It belittles evil and praises justice and victory. Rebellion is its name and its cause, and it came at the perfect time. To sit back and simply praise “Rogue One” based solely on its action and acting is to ignore the fact that this film urges people to give a damn. It shows people that no cause is too small when it stands for what is right. That’s a message that the world needs right now. A message that unflinchingly stares down evil and says “you won’t win.” There’s a moment right before battle when Captain Cassian Andor looks around at their small crew going up against hundreds of Imperial soldiers he says “make ten men feel like a hundred.” That moment will last with me for a long time because its message is so powerful. To all those who think your cause is too small and that your opposition is too strong. Let nothing stand in your way.

Rating: 4.5/5