Over the past 39 years, we’ve been given a reasonably complete timeline for the Star Wars galaxy from the Skywalker point of view. While this is all fantastic, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marks the first time the goings on of the rest of the rebellion have been brought forward (at least since the dismissal of the extended universe).
In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Alliance were able to destroy the Death Star, thanks to intel provided by a group of dedicated rebels. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel fighters who acquired the Death Star plans in the first place. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the estranged daughter of an Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an Alliance Intelligence Officer with vast field experience, and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the reprogrammed, and extremely opinionated, Imperial droid are just the base of the team tasked with finding the newest Imperial plans.
Right from its dawning moment, this film is different from any other in the franchise. With an ever-present feature missing, it felt a little as though the movie hadn’t truly started. Lacking its usual fanfare, Rogue One’s first few minutes felt rather surreal as the newest characters are introduced, and their part in this world laid out before you.
While we’ve seen the roguish rebel mantel so well held by Han Solo in the original trilogy, Cassian brings it back with a twist. He’s rough around the edges like Han, but the similarities stop there. Cassian’s sole purpose is to further the progress made by the rebel alliance; and he will stop at nothing to do so. Actions like shooting an informant to stop secrets falling into imperial hands are thrown in so quickly, and really not dwelled upon at first, that, in a way, it highlights the fact this hero is not like others. While the entire lead cast still carry the honour befitting a rebel, they are not Jedi. They aren’t calm, even beings who trust diplomacy first and their fists second.
Rogue One marks another first in the Star Wars universe. It is the first film in which John Williams has not composed the score. Michael Giacchino takes the musical reins in this non-episode. While the music is beautiful, it also leaves one wanting. On several occasions, the opening notes to a beloved piece would start, giving you a reminiscent emotion from the last scene you heard it in, only to have the song then change. While there was nothing wrong with the compositions themselves, it’s a little hard to know if this current music was making you feel the correct emotions for the scene, if those few teasing notes had awoken the mood, and the rest was trying to ride on their coat tails.
Throughout the entire film, there was a near constant battle between keeping that classic Star Wars vibe, while instilling the fact that this was a Star Wars Story, not an Episode. If you’re willing to embrace the new facet, then this can be a great thing. For those who are more traditionalist, there may be some trouble accepting the new and letting go of the classic.
This is not the story of three humans, two droids, and a wookiee with incredible luck. This is a tale of the rebel fighters who have always been in the background, but without whom, the rebellion would not exist. Men and women who have hope; because rebellions are built on hope! This is Star Wars.