Rouge One: A New Hope 39 years after a movie review

Erwin M. Mascarinas

FOR the millions of Star Wars fans, the season has never been this merrier as we are brought back again to the folds of the force and the struggles of the Rebel Alliance against the evil might of the Empire with Rogue One.

The same month last year, I wrote a review for Episode VII: Force Awakens, the most awaited sequel to the Star Wars saga and one of the most successful yet. But even before the release of the prequels: Episode I: Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), questions have haunted me about the small band of rebel spies who took the plans of the Death Star which was mentioned during the opening text crawl in Episode IV: New Hope (1977) which states:

Spoiler Alert

“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy...”

Rogue One is a movie made to answer the question who were the brave Rebel Spies who dared and managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star battle station, that were essential in bringing the story of Star Wars: New Hope. A question that ultimately took the franchise 39 years in the making, but was it all worth the wait?

Before you can even say “I know it all” after all the movies, canon and non-canon books, games, animated series and sequels slash prequels that has pushed and slammed along the Star Wars timeline, your idea and knowledge about Star Wars gets far more smaller as you get to realize that there is still so much more than you have yet to discover.

This movie has brought into the commercial limelight the rebellion’s struggle just to survive and stay afloat after the successful rise of the Empire and slow demise of the Republic. A very good bridge to that of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series where it tells the story of the Jedi’s struggle with the rebellion after Order 66, when the Jedi’s and their Padawans were all executed and slaughtered in an “EJK” Star Wars version by then Emperor Palpatin also known as the Sith master Darth Sidious during the culmination of the Clone Wars.

The characterization of the characters, the entire movie storyline served a purpose for a bigger story and made fans and audiences alike realize the importance of the Rogue’s in the Star Wars saga. This movie made more sense to why we had a New Hope than any of the prequel: Episode 1 to 3 combined, giving far better depth into the world of those who fought for the rebellion. It made me feel like a true star wars movie that resonated in continuity to that of the New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

I love and adore the build-up of the scenes into one huge climax was very well done and executed by the actors. Most of the movies that had been released over the past few years start to fall apart during the Second or Third Act of the film. But with Rogue One, so far this is one of the best Third Act that I’ve seen in years.

The main character in the movie is Jyn Erso played by Felicity Jones who is the daughter of Orson Krennic (Mads Mikkelsen), the Director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military. The relationship and significance of both characters in the movie was very well laid since the beginning of the film, unfortunately I just wanted more of Jyn’s sudden evolutionary shift of heart from someone raised by an extremist freedom fighter to the I don’t care if the Empire rules the galaxy then towards an outspoken voice that rallies the rebellion, I guess I wanted more coherent framework.

Over all, Felicity Jones acting sold well with its audience as well as with Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), the town Jedi temple protectors Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). Quite amazingly the most unexpected character for me would be the re-programmed Imperial droid K-2SO, whose wit brought some much-needed humor in several aspects of the movie.

For me, the disappointing part was with the extremist rebel Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), I hoped for so more from his character since after all he was one of those separatist fighters who showed potential in the Clone Wars animated series where he was first introduced. But nevertheless, he did served his purpose in the movie even amid the lackluster role given to Saw.

The movie will also show some oddly bold moves from the ranks of the Rebels, especially from the likes of Cassian which would show how far the rebels will push themselves for what they believed in. As well as how much ordinary individual soldiers in the rebellion risked and sacrificed it all for the cause they believed on so deeply. At least in this movie, both the rebellion and the Storm Trooper show-off their fighting abilities head-to-head in one of the best battle scenes in the Star Wars Saga.

Oddly enough, Rogue One is definitely one of the best Star Wars movie ever made and the unique part is that it doesn’t involve any Jedi masters or their padawan’s in light saber duels and battle but individuals who does not wield the ability of Force wielders.

There will be some very amazing and surprising moments in the movie that I will not mention (no spoilers) as I would like those who are committed to the force to discover it for themselves and experience the awakening all over again.

And yes, the movie is definitely a New Hope for fans and even for those who are yet to discover cinema magic of Star Wars. It might have took them 39 years to explain the feats of those who stole the plans for the Death Star but for me it was worth the wait that brought me one with the force and the belief that whatever we do, it should be built on hope.