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Lost City

Five Years Later: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

14 December 21 words: Kieran Burt

Can you believe it's been half a decade since Rogue One? Man, that was a long time ago, and in a galaxy far, far away... Huh, interesting... 

Director: Gareth Edwards 
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk
Running time: 133 minutes

Not so long ago, in a cinema not so far away, Rogue One graced us with its destructive presence. It had a lot of expectations riding on it - being the second Star Wars film that Disney made - but it just about manages to meet them. Ben Mendelsohn shines in his role as Director Krennic, who, if a little one-note at times, gives us a look into what Empire politics is like. However, at the same time, the film marked the beginning of Disney’s obsession with the time period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope - something that shows no sign of stopping. 

Despite its faults, Rogue One is easily the best Star Wars film that Disney has put out. The Force Awakens follows the structure of A New Hope too closely, The Last Jedi strayed too far from the core of Star Wars, and The Rise of Skywalker fails to finish the sequel trilogy in a satisfying manner. Yet this release doesn’t stray from what came before, nor does it copy it, and it includes the new era's most interesting villain yet, as well as answering the question of just how the Alliance got the Death Star plans.

The film is primarily about lore and exploring new ideas within this universe. It gives depth to the state of the galaxy, characterising both the Rebellion and Empire as divided and full of distrust. In fact, it makes trust a major theme overall, which comes full circle by the end. The idea of hope is also present, seen in many of the film’s characters, and Cassian shows the audience a new side of the Rebellion; insurgency. Hopefully this is something the upcoming Cassian series will expand upon further. 

Star Wars always provides spectacle in its action, and Rogue One is no different

Another part of what makes this Disney’s best Star Wars film is Director Krennic. Mendelsohn gives a great performance, delivering an angry display worthy of a man frustrated not just by his enemies, but by those on his own side. Grand Moff Tarkin (featuring a posthumous performance from Peter Cushing, thanks to some shoddy CGI) constantly looks for reasons to undermine Krennic at every turn, something which the novel Catalyst neatly investigates. Krennic is not evil because he is a genocidal maniac, but because he simply wants to climb the Imperial ladder of power, and he isn’t bothered about who he has to step onto to do that - be it his own people or the Rebels. The audience clearly latched onto this character as well, as most of the memes this film has spawned have centred on him.

Star Wars always provides spectacle in its action, and Rogue One is no different. There are plenty of memorable set pieces throughout, but the third act fight is the most impactful. The unlikely nature of the Rebels' success is felt in the final scenes, and audiences get the chance to see Darth Vader at gloriously ruthless best. 

Rogue One executes its objectives well, but it is sadly the biggest example of Disney’s overindulgence of the time period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope

Rogue One is not without its flaws, though. Disney often places the Original Trilogy on a pedestal, and here is no different - in fact, this is perhaps the series' worst offender. The concept for the film comes from a few lines in A New Hope’s opening crawl, which has been argued as a weak justification. It also sits in a time period which Disney has explored too often, with no signs of stopping. This risks over-explaining details that don’t need to be explored, and comes at the expense of diving into other eras. The characters are also overly reactive to their situations, with few expressing agency.

Overall, the movie executes its objectives well, but it is sadly the biggest example of Disney’s overindulgence of the time period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope - a problem that continues to this day.

Did you know? Jyn's father, Galen, is modeled after J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb. Both men share the same guilt factor of becoming an agent of death for building a weapon of mass destruction.

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