Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
|Featuring:|| Felicity Jones … Jyn Erso
Mads Mikkelsen … Galen Erso
Ben Mendelsohn … Director Orson Krennic
Riz Ahmed … Bodhi Rook
Genevieve O'Reilly … Mon Mothma
James Earl Jones … Darth Vader (voice)
Alan Tudyk … K-2SO
Forest Whitaker … Saw Gerrera
Diego Luna … Captain Cassian Andor
Donnie Yen … Chirrut Îmwe
Warwick Davis … Weeteef Cyubee
|Director:||Gareth Edwards—“Monsters” (2010), “Godzilla” (2014)|
|Producer:||Allison Shearmur Productions
Black Hangar Studios
|Distributor:||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
A Long Time Ago” (back in 1977) George Lucas launched the phenomenon that would attract audiences worldwide with the original “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, as they tried to convey the stolen blueprints of the Empire’s deadliest new weapon over into the hands of the Rebel Alliance, was our first introduction to that saga. However, the events just preceding that film, which is about the brave heroes that risked their lives to deliver that ‘new hope’ has never been told, until now.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens with a research scientist in hiding named Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who, along with his wife and daughter Jyn, has just been tracked down by the Empire. However, Galen manages to get his daughter to safety before he himself is taken away and once again forced to serve Imperial Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) on a secret project for the Empire.
Years pass and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is being sought by the newly formed Rebel Alliance. It happens that the man who raised Jyn, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) a well-known and feared agitator who has his own ways of fighting back against the Empire, has come into possession of a defecting Imperial pilot with news of the Empire’s latest weapon and only through Jen can they hope to get an audience with the reclusive extremist.
The Rebel Alliance dispatches Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and a reprogrammed Imperial Battle Droid K-2SO (voiced by FireFly star Alan Tudyk) to accompany Jyn in her meeting with Saw Gerrera to learn if the rumors are true. But Imperial forces have now occupied the last holy city of Jedha and Director Krennic will stop at nothing to keep the secret of the Death Star from reaching the Alliance.
“Rogue One” maintains a serious tone throughout the film, thus limiting the light-hearted moments, also serving to point out the most notable difference it has with “A New Hope,” but it does have the requisite excitement we have come to expect from some of the best of the Star Wars series, including some thrillingly battles both on the ground and in space. Rated PG-13, there are, of course, a few areas of concern worth noting.
Language: Minor. No profanity is used at all, but what may be of concern to parents of younger children would be the threatening language often used, most often from Director Krennic, and even the sadistic joy he exudes over the death of thousands when he simply calls it “beautiful.” The Lord’s name is not taken in vain, although Darth Vader is referred to as Lord, but none addressing him subscribe to his “ancient religion” and use it more as a title.
Violence: Heavy. While the battles are bloodless and not graphic people are still killed in a variety of ways including: being shot by blasters, cannon fire, blown up, caught in debris, cut down by light saber or crushed against a bulkhead. A character is threatened with insanity after exposure to a very large slug type creature. A mother is shot in front of her child’s eyes, and another child, standing in the middle of heavy crossfire, cries incessantly from terror. Thousands die, as seen from a distance, whenever the Death Star unleashes a fraction of its power, which is more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Although language should not be an issue for parents, the violence is more than a sufficient reason to prevent your children from seeing this and getting desensitized to violence at an early age.
Sex/Nudity: Minor. A small holographic dancing girl is seen in slightly dubious attire, but the poor resolution makes it more akin to a video game. No kissing or great affection takes place, as is fitting for this type of a mission driven, action focused film.
Cassian, Jyn and K-2SO are the trio that make up the main characters, but others will be enlisted to help, and it is through their words and deeds that lessons can be gleaned on matters such as fear, faith and hope, as they find their way into this Sci-Fi fantasy.
Fear: Saw Gerrera has been wanted by the Empire for so long that it has clearly made him paranoid, to the point he even suspects the girl he raised as wanting to kill him. God has a better plan for us, namely to trust and lean on Him.
“So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Hebrews 13:6
Faith: The most unusual ally they make is certainly the blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe played by martial arts star Donnie Yen of “IP Man” fame. Though he is not a Jedi, he believes strongly in the “force,” and he acts guided by it. In one scene, he walks into what would appear to be certain death, but, with his faith intact, accomplishes his mission unscathed. The Bible repeatedly reminds us to act in this very way, regardless of the circumstances.
Jyn has trouble convincing her friends, without any proof, that she is speaking the truth about the Death Star, and only Chirrut has the conviction to say, “I believe her.” Faith is indeed believing in things unseen, so how remarkable it is that the man with no sight sees more clearly than anyone else.
Hope: Cassian is the first to mention that a rebellion is built on hope, but he will not be the last to do so. Jyn likewise becomes an advocate for hope and, in fact, soon inspires others to follow her lead. The Word of God is clear on why those who trust in Him should have hope.
In a poignant scene, Cassian says to Jyn, “Your father would have been proud of you.” Jesus himself alluded to something similar, but toward our Father in heaven when told a Parable about a master and his good servant. As acknowledged children of God through Christ His son, we all have the hope of hearing this when we go to our Lord:
“Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21
Some will argue, and I am of the same thinking, that underneath it all “Rogue One” is practically a love letter to the fans, as evidenced by the number of recreated sets, familiar dialog and returning characters long thought gone, Governor Tarkin’s (the late Peter Cushing) large role being the biggest surprise. Uncovering all the “Easter eggs” concealed is not this writers purpose, however I did notice that when they were speaking about a Holy City on the planet Jedah it sounded more like they were referring to the very real and true Holy City of Jerusalem which may be found in Judah, but I digress.
The final analysis may show that ”Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” may not only be the film that many fans were waiting for, but may prove to be a catalyst to entice a new generation into an appreciation for the Star Wars universe. The special effects, as seen in IMAX 3D, have never been better, and the ‘untold’ story in a stand-alone film is very well done. True, it is not as fun or light-hearted as the original, but an exciting addition and long overdue expansion into the Star Wars canon that I recommend be seen in the best format available near you.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…exhilarating, good-natured and enjoyable adventure… [4/5]
—Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian (UK)
…a worthy entry in the franchise… If there’s a weak spot in “Rogue One,” it’s wit. … [4/5]
—Sara Stewart, New York Post
…Action-packed and engaging… “Rogue One” definitely puts the war back into “Star Wars.” …What the film really lacks is a strong and vigorous male lead…
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
…a gritty war movie with few kid-friendly ingredients. …Younger audiences will be bored, confused, or both. …
—Peter Debruge, Variety
…gritty… this is very much a war movie… The look and mood of “Rogue One” is exceedingly dark…[3/4]
—Peter Howell, Toronto Star Newspapers
…Several people exiting Monday from the Chicago press screening expressed the same three-word sentiment—“not for kids”… 
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…“Rogue One,” especially in its first half, has an appealing grittiness. …it doesn’t feel as fresh or as funny as The Force Awakens… [3½/5]
—Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
…rather dark… often exciting, just as often over-busy and underwritten… “Rogue One” can feel mechanical but spurs “Star Wars” nostalgia… [2½]
—Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
…“Rogue One” feels small in scale, even with its signature heroism and sci-fi action, and its main players mostly lack the charm that made Rey, Finn and Poe in last year’s “The Force Awakens”—or Han, Luke and Leia back in the day—so special. …
—Brian Truitt, USA Today
…slow-starting, but eventually satisfying film… out of all the “Star Wars” films, this is probably the saddest. …
—Stephen Whitty, ArtiSyndicate