Rogue One: Another Prequel

Photo Credits here

By Tan Qi En

“Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”

Pulling over 2 hours of content from such sparse material was a remarkable feat of creativity, but does the movie have the substance to back it up?

Rogue One charts the story of our protagonist Jyn Erso, and opens with a scene from her childhood as she watches her father agree to assist the Empire in the construction of their superweapon. Years later, as the Death Star nears completion, she is unwittingly swept up into a rebellion to free the galaxy from the tyrannical grasp of the evil Galactic Empire, due to her connection with her father. Along the way, she picks up a motley band of heroes: Cassian Andor, a roguish pilot with his own hidden agenda; K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial droid offering a smattering of dark, sarcastic humor; Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior armed with his bowcaster-staff and an unwavering faith in the force, accompanied by his more grounded, cynical companion, Baze Malbus.

As you might expect from such a huge main cast, none of them really get the screen time they need to develop fully into relatable characters. The rest of the pacing leaves much to be desired as well, with the team hopping rapidly from system to system, before culminating in a somewhat drawn out hour-long battle for the Death Star plans.

This movie is undoubtedly darker than any preceding it, with both sides of the conflict cast in varying shades of grey. The rebellion makes some ethically questionable decisions “for the greater good”, raising tensions within the team when it’s discovered. Director Krennic, despite overseeing the Death Star project, is portrayed as a determined and industrious person, but has his aspirations subverted and sabotaged by his power-hungry colleagues. Even our protagonist isn’t blindly motivated by heroic duty, and doesn’t fall in line with the rebellion at first, claiming that the Galactic Empire’s dominance is “not a problem if you don’t look up”.

But despite the movie’s sombre tone, one of the overarching messages it delivers is one of hope. Hope that your defiance in the face of tyranny will, ultimately, add up to something bigger than yourself. Hope that even in a dark galaxy, someone will follow in your steps to carry the flame to the end. Hope that you’ll be able to relive the nostalgia of the original trilogy, even as Lucasfilm milks the franchise for all its worth.

Speaking of hope, for those eager for more, rumour has it that the aptly-named sequel, “A New Hope” is available soon™, so watch this space for the latest updates!

I rate it 5/7, a perfect score.

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