Rogue One’ continues Star Wars success

By Ivan Mateo

When Disney first purchased the rights to the “Star Wars” franchise back in 2012, excitement grew about the further exploration of the vast universe of all the lore and galaxies. The original Star Wars trilogy holds a special place in the hearts of many, so seeing the “Star Wars” franchise not only continue onward with each episode, but also explore other narratives, is thrilling.

The events of “Rogue One” take place after “Episode III ” Revenge of the Sith” and before “Episode IV ” A New Hope.”

“Rogue One” differs from other “Star Wars” films in the franchise. Here, none of the Jedi are front and center. Instead, “Rogue One” focuses on a small, driven team of rebels consisting of vastly unique individuals attempting to undermine the evil Empire by preventing it from strengthening its already powerful ranks with a planet destroyer called the Death Star.

The film opens with Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the director of Advanced Weapons Research for the Imperial Military, landing on the planet Lah’mu, where Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a research scientist, has been hiding as a farmer.

The Empire needs Erso to help finish the Death Star, and Krennic is determined to take him one way or another. Erso’s young daughter, Jyn, manages to escape the clutches of the Empire with the help of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a veteran of the Clone Wars.

Time passes and an older Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a rogue maverick, finds herself in the thick of things as the Rebels try to survive against the Empire. The Empire is close to completing the Death Star with the help of Galen.

Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a Rebel Alliance intelligence officer, must find Galen to stop the Death Star at all costs. At the same time, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), a former Imperial cargo pilot, defects to the Rebels in order to help them stop the Death Star.

Andor enlists the aid of Jyn to find her father and Rook. Along for the space ride is K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), a Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer droid, who is quick-witted with one-liners, effectively delivering comic relief.

Chirrut _Ò_Ümwe (Donnie Yen), a blind warrior who believes in the Force, and his best friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), a Rebel mercenary with some of the coolest blasters in his possession, join Jyn and Andor on their quest.

Minimal backstory for each character was provided to help further develop each of the shipmates aboard “Rogue One.” The film provides exposition for a character by simply telling the audience rather than showing it.

A deeper look into each character’s motivations would have aided in fleshing them out. Spinoff films centered around the history of Andor and K-2SO or _Ò_Ümwe and Malbus could potentially be exciting duo adventures delving into their respective stories.

The many characters combined their individual strengths to create a single unstoppable force. They were a ragtag team who unified to complete a vital mission. The film affords every character a moment to shine, with each of them fulfilling their duties in order for the mission to succeed.

Applause should be directed at the truly diverse cast of “Rogue One.” British actress Jones is joined by Danish actor Mikkelson, British-Pakistani actor Ahmed, Chinese actors Yen and Wen, Americans Whitaker and Tudyk and Australian actor Mendelsohn. A CG actor performance was included in the form of Grand Moff Tarkin (late Peter Cushing). The CG acting effects were so-so, but he was important to events in “A New Hope.”

For fans of the “Star Wars” franchise, there are numerous discoverable nods and Easter eggs from the films of old in the form of cameos and/or references. Also, for those wondering, Darth Vader makes an appearance in the film, and it is worth it.

The previous year’s “Episode VII ” The Force Awakens” played it safe by mixing old characters and new characters in a story similar in structure and formula to past films. In accomplishing this, “The Force Awakens” helped build a bridge of opportunity for films such as “Rogue One.”

“Rogue One” explores the backstory of how the blueprint to destroy the Death Star was discovered. With a multiethnic cast of characters, a new generation of fans can look to characters on the big screen uniting for an impossible cause and succeeding.

_Ò_Ümwe’s mantra throughout the film is “I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me,” but fans of “Star Wars” can now say “We are one with the Force, and the Force is with us.”

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action. The film released on Dec. 15 and is playing in theaters.

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

‘Rogue One’ movie poster

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