Let’s face it… not everyone is a huge Star Wars fan. However, with media headlines and Facebook posts touting Rogue One as “The Best Star Wars Film Ever”, my curiosity was piqued.
For the Star Wars super fans out there, the truth is that you don’t need a review to help you decide if it’s worth spending your hard-earned money on. But what about, well, the rest of us? Those of us who didn’t grow up watching the original trilogy every weekend with their friends at sleepovers? Could the movie stand on its own, and be engaging, for a Star Wars virgin? I was determined to find out.
At its core, Rogue One is about a group of rebels who (spoiler alert) overcome many obstacles to steal blueprints to a big space ship owned and operated by some bad guys because they believe the plans will help the good guys completely defeat the bad guys once and for all. And yes, I know true fans out there just died a little inside because I called the intergalactic weapon of mass destruction that is the Death Star… a ‘big space ship’ and the Dark Side ‘some bad guys’. I’m sorry, but to the uninitiated, that’s all that’s happening here.
So what did I like and appreciate? I loved the diversity within the cast of rebels. In an era where heros must always fit a stereotype, it was so very refreshing to have gender and race stereotypes destroyed. The best part was that the rebel mission was led by female protagonist Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) who strategically navigated challenges, inspired disengaged rebels, and fought battles while being fully clothed and not hyper-sexualized. Hallelujah!
I connected with the theme of hope that was woven throughout the film. The rebels are clearly taking on a suicide mission and yet they choose to do what they believe is right to defeat the dark side. Jyn’s reminder that “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!” continues to echo in my heart.
There were other great characters too… like the droid K-2SO, who had some great one-liners. Not to mention the dynamic duo of a blind, but battle-ready warrior priest, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his stoic, but slightly grumpy sidekick, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen).
However, as you can tell from my plot overview… I wasn’t terribly impressed with the story. I got annoyed in the opening sequences because we jumped between a dozen different locations with different characters and I couldn’t figure out who was who and what was what until about 30 minutes into the film. I like complexity, but this just felt confusing. The various obstacles in the final battle felt kind of absurd and somewhat forced. And, without some additional context, I can’t really understand the true significance of the blueprints to the Death Star.
If this is your first Star Wars movie, I suspect you will find it somewhat shallow but action-packed and a decent movie-going experience if you are looking for an intergalactic escape from the real world.
If you’ve imagined flying on a hovering speeder-bike, built your own Death Star trench in the front yard, or had dreams about Princess Leia, I’m assured that you’ll love how this movie honours the existing body of work. You will be delighted by the easter eggs, and get goosebumps of joy when Darth Vader appears; and you’ll be relieved at the closure of a long-standing gap in logic about why it was so easy to destroy the Death Star with a single, well-placed shot.
So, if you are a Star Wars virgin like me, my suggestion is to ask your favourite Star Wars superfan for a few key plot points to help put this film into context before you go. You might also want to invite them along so you can direct a whispered question or two their way as the story unfolds.
In the meantime, remember that there is always hope.
Amy Kellestine is an educator, engineer, Arati life coach and entrepreneur living in Edmonton, Alberta. She spends her free time camping, gardening, and volunteering for causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and nature conservation. She is a devoted mother, who is passionate about helping others and writing.