“Rebellions are built on hope” ~ Cassian Andor
(Hey there! Jonas here again. This is only my second review so I thought I’d take a quick second to direct you to my About page which will tell you a bit about me, as well as my Favorite Links page, where you can find other websites and podcasts that I frequently visit. Thank you, and enjoy!)
(This review contains spoilers!)
What is this?
A long time ago, in a December movie season far, far away. . .
. . . the 8th Star Wars movie was released. Or, kind of the 8th Star Wars movie. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards, who is known for 2014’s Godzilla film, as well as a multitude of TV documentaries, some having to do with space. The film stars Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, and Felicity Jones as the lead heroine, Jyn Erso.
Whats the Context?
Winter of 2016 saw the birth of a new type of Star Wars film, the “Star Wars Story”, it calls itself. This film is technically not a part of the ongoing saga about the beloved Skywalkers, rather, its a supplement that tells of one of the events that we don’t get to see happen in the original trilogy, the stealing of the construction plans that allowed the rag-tag Rebel Alliance to defeat the Death Star (30-year-old spoilers).
Jyn is the daughter of Galen Erso, a mechanic and architect who works for the Galactic Empire, and plays a pivotal part in constructing the infamous Death Star, a space station capable of destroying an entire planet. When her mother is killed and her father stolen, Jyn has to grow up on the run, learning the ways of war from the radical rebel leader, Saw Guerrera, and gets wrapped up in the Rebellion’s attempt to destroy the Empires deadly new weapon.
What does this movie have to say?
There’s nothing new about the message of this film. In fact, it waves the thematic flag of hundreds of films and stories before it: hope. The little guy standing up to the big guy. I mean, the very first Star Wars film was literally titled, “A New Hope“.
I’ll echo President Snow of the Hunger Games franchise in saying that hope is the most dangerous weapon, and Rogue One’s Captain Cassian Andor, who delivers the iconic thesis of this film: “Rebellions are built on hope”.
In this movie, Jyn Erso encounters and recruits a cast of characters to carry out her mission. It becomes an ensemble film, much like a Magnificent 7 or Guardians of the Galaxy. And what I think is cool, is that roughly each member of the band of rebels has a different theme, a different reason and way to fight for the cause.
Saw Guerrera, the Radical: Saw is an old ally of Galen Erso, and helps raise Jyn with the skills she’ll need to make it in a bloodthirsty galaxy. He is known as a radical, which means that he has done dark things in the name of rebellion and fighting against the Empires oppression. He is willing to go to the extreme, and make things really happen, in order to resist and fight back the darkness, so to speak.
Jyn Erso, the Face: I like to think of Jyn as this universes Mockingjay, of course referring to the girl who bravely becomes the face of a hopeless rebellion in the series: The Hunger Games. Jyn arrives on the scene without much connection to the conflict except that her fathers life is in danger. But even when that is resolved, she decides to keep fighting. I would say that Jyn is the glue that holds the band together. She is young, authoritative, sassy, and her own brand of charismatic. The makings of a war hero to bring hope to a scared people.
Bodhi Rook, the Servant: Bodhi is an Imperial pilot who defects in order to deliver the plans to the rebels. He sacrifices his good standing and relative safety for the greater good of making a crucial move forward to end the conflict. Bodhi spends a lot of this movie terrified. He isn’t the fearless leader, or the wise orchestrator, but he is a faithful servant who makes sacrifices for the greater good. And thats a character I always latch onto.
Chirrut Imwe, Walks by Faith, not by Sight: Last, but not least, Chirrut Imwe is something of a monk. He is part of a religious order who’s religion revolves around the all-powerful Force, and Kyber, the material that the Empire is stealing from his planet to build their weapon. Chirrut is blind, but out of the whole band of rebels, he is the most optimistic, hopeful, and very able to pull his weight. He believes in the Force, the power that the famous Jedi Knights wield, and though he is no Jedi, decides to believe in its power without seeing its effects for himself. This ends up saving his life on more than one occasion, and I think that Chirrut nicely exemplifies the biblical command to walk by faith, not by sight.
If you like this movie, you may enjoy this episode of one of my favorite podcasts: Reel World Theology: Rogue One and Hope in Death I highly recommend you check it out!
Why should you see this?
I think that humans are hardwired to want hope. To want light, and righteousness, and justice. We are all attracted to a story about rebellion against a dark, oppressive power, because thats what we want! We all want to push back darkness, whatever form it takes. This movie has some fantastic action, characters, themes, and adds a lot of background to the Star Wars universe.
A little slow, but amazing visuals and use of Star Wars iconography. The characters are not fleshed out a lot, but enough for the amount of them and to get to know each’s reason to be a part of the story, which is what is important. 3.5/5 stars.