6 January 2017

Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

As I sit here listening to the beautiful soundtrack by Michael Giacchino and scroll through tons of fan art online, I come to realize that Rogue One may be my favorite Star Wars film yet. And for me, that's saying a lot. I've only seen it once (but plan on seeing at the cinema again asap) so I won't go into full film-graduate-analyzing-every-single-aspect of the film, but instead do a overall brief review of the film. Beware of minor spoilers!

Rogue One tells the story of a group of rebels who steal the plans of the Death Star. I have to admit I was not impressed by the first 2 trailers and posters, I only got excited about the film about two weeks before it's release and after the final trailer (which I usually avoid watching as final trailers usually reveal way too much). So why did I love it so much? 

First of all, Rogue One lives up to the Star Wars name. Unlike the previous films (in my opinion anyway!) you definitely feel that there is a war happening. You can't help but believe the sense of urgency when watching the film, even if you're familiar with the original trilogy. They absolutely have to succeed in their mission. This urgency is conveyed through one of my favorite sequences in which the Death Star carries out it's first test: obliterating a city. The sequence shows the sheer scale of destruction the weapon can generate, with the explosion reaching far out into space - and this is just one city. It's impossible to ignore the similarity between this and nuclear weapons tests. The destruction of Jedha is crucial to the 3rd act of the film: we've seen the destruction before, and so as the Death Star appears on the palm tree horizon it triggers that sense of dread - once more accentuating the gravity of the story.

In this aspect, Rogue One achieved what The Force Awakens did not: the Starkiller base, 'bigger and scarier' than the Death Star, did not provoke the same fear and worry in it's audience, even though we had a brief shot of the inhabitants of the planets destroyed by it. Rogue One showed the impact of the Death Star through the eyes of the victims and those desperately trying to flee it, which had a more profound effect on the audience.

I believe it's also the most violent Star Wars film to date, with the highest on-screen body count from the offset. They wasted no time in establishing this aspect of the film, with a main character killing someone in their first scene. This is war, and the majority of characters are responsible for truly painful actions; you can't simply place the characters in 'good' or 'bad' boxes, because their situation doesn't allow them that luxury. That being said, redemption is a huge element in this film. 

It's important to point out that this film is very action driven, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it means that there isn't always room for further character exploration. However, we still get insights to the characters personalities and backgrounds, with some wonderful dialogue-centric scenes.

Despite having previous battle scenes in the franchise, Rogue One depicted these final scenes in such a way that we truly felt the importance of what was happening. It wasn't simply a series of explosions, shattered glass and sparks everywhere - each character had a significant task, and each task led to the success of the mission. It felt personal, you feel the importance of each one of the characters actions and couldn't help but hope they would succeed. You feel their fear, their hope, their determination. Their bravery. And they did it. Luke, Leia, Han owe everything to them. 

Let's briefly talk about the aesthetic of the film, more precisely the costumes. I was pleasantly surprised to see the characters (mostly the baddies - everyone loves a good cape) wearing costumes very similar to the ones seen in the original trilogy. This creative decision gives the film a more authentic feel to it, not simply a money grabbing Hollywood blockbuster but a film that truly wanted to showcase the true essence of Star Wars. Furthermore, it shows the potential for the future of this epic and iconic franchise. I, for one, am no longer concerned about the Han Solo prequel spin-off films. They have a lot to live up to after this film, and can't afford to flop. 

Rogue One is heartfelt and tragic. It's about redemption and hope, whilst showing the true meaning of sacrifice. 

*wipes away tears*

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