Rating: 3.75 of 5
The best thing about Rogue one is the expansion of the Star Wars universe.
For those who read the novels, it’s been expanded for some time. But for those of us who only watched the films, this is new territory. And it’s the perfect intersection of audience desire and Hollywood mechanics. It’s an original story in a recognizable franchise.
A decade ago, franchise meant one in a succession of films. Fast 8 and Rambo 14. Films typically degraded in quality as the sequel number grew. But Marvel introduced a new era for franchises. One that Harry Potter has been toying with for a few years and will likely dive headlong into as soon as they figure out how. (I’m convinced the only reason we haven’t seen a Harry Potter tv show is that it’s cost prohibitive). One that DC would give almost anything to figure out but hasn’t quite managed yet. Rogue One nails it.
I love the idea of this larger universe; new characters and new stories that don’t have to be plugged into the central mythos around the Skywalker family and the Jedis. I like that there are still people who can harness the Force but don’t have any Jedi training so are these rogue powers. I enjoy more details about the science and the world building. All of which, and more, is in my review.
Even so, it’s not all it could be. I was struck at one moment toward the end where this character is walking; defying all the people shooting at him, walking to his death but still going. It reminded me of the scene in Lord of the Rings with Boromir when he’s taking all the arrows. But there was no purpose in this walk. He wasn’t doing it to save anyone. There was no valor in his death. And as he goes down reciting a mantra about the Force, it seemed like a very hollow power.
Purpose infuses Boromir’s death; honor and meaning and emotional resonance. Because underlying the mythology is real power. It has the presence of the divine. Of not just an awareness or a connectedness but of sentience. The Force is an empty thing and so while Star Wars is a fun universe to play in and is (now) good sci-fi, it will always lack a depth that would give the story even greater heft.