Rogue One is a Star Wars universe I could get into, dark and murderous and crazy and action packed. Not the George Lucas Star Wars universe of namby-pampy muffin religions summarized by a bumper sticker, and adolescent barely-shaving heroes who really don’t want to hurt anybody, and muppets, and outlandish aliens which are there just to give the make-up people something to do and a story line right out of My Weekly Reader. That’s because George Lucas didn’t really have anything to do with this movie other than putting his name in the opening credits. Residuals, doncha know.
So this was an actually GOOD Star Wars movie. A damn good one, probably the best of the first three (which is NOT the prequels! They are NOT the first three movies! They are afterthoughts, embarrassments, more of Lucas’ muffin universe where we gotta have clones because, ewww, we can’t show PEOPLE getting hurt! Except Darth Vader. Who becomes evil because of a girl. Isn’t that always the case?)
Based on an offhand remark made early in the first Star Wars (yes, dammit, the FIRST Star Wars!), Rogue One is a Star Wars movie for grownups. This is war as it actually is: people die, things get broken, great tragedies are visited over large swaths of territory usually because some overbearing, nasty, and oppressive power wishes to be overbearing and nasty and we freedom loving people object. So, war, because oppressive powers don’t understand anything else (got that, bleeding hearts?) And what a war, fought with the terrible intensity you would expect from high-energy weapons and technology. You will be stunned. You will be engrossed. You won’t even notice some glaring inconsistencies.
Like…there’s still a Senate? Didn’t that kinda end when the Emperor made his move? But, wait, wasn’t Princess Leia a Senator or something in the first movie and, wait, that didn’t make sense back then, either.
But, don’t worry about it, because this is a straight up story. The Death Star has been activated and nobody in the Senate (which, really shouldn’t exist anymore) knows about it…I mean, the zillions of dollars and zillions of diversions of labor and materials from all over the friggin’ galaxy just wasn’t noticed by anybody. Jedi knights didn’t even pick up on it (that Force can be fickle). So, the evil Director
(played by absolutely one of the greatest actors of our time, Ben Mendelsohn. If you don’t believe me, start watching Bloodline) is trying to keep it hidden before unleashing it on the unsuspecting Rebels, because, ya know, nobody has even HEARD about this gigantic metal moon that’s eating up all the dilithium crystals (or whatever they are) in the universe when Peter Cushing shows up (wait, isn’t he dead?) and wants to take over so prove to me this hunk of junk actually works and so the Director does. Hoo boy, does it work, in a constrained test shot that is ten thousand times more graphic and terrifying than the much-beloved destruction of Alderan.
But, don’t worry, there’s a heroine, pulled into this entire mess by some of the most convoluted and downright implausible means that only a scriptwriter could manufacture, and she’s going to get those Death Star plans. Or die trying.
And there you have it.
Darth Vader is in this one.
The real Darth Vader, not that petulant kid you just want to slap the crap out of, or that Kylo Kilo pajama boy, but Darth friggin’ Vader hisself, all broody and scary and living in his Fortress of Solitude on the lava world. I swear he told his architect to make his home as intimidating as possible, to discourage visitors, I guess. And I guess he saved money by incorporating old Star Wars sets into the place, but it was good to see him. And he is a true badass, as the last sequence will reveal, when you’ll get to see Stepford Princess Leia, too.
There is a battle sequence involving a master switch that will make your head explode, because someone has to go to the master switch and set dial 7 to the 400 mhx range and then throw fuse 11765883 into the neutral position and then wait five seconds and turn the base plate 28.5 degrees magnetic north and then jump on one foot and hold your breath and…really, somebody should write this down. And, of COURSE, the switch is right out there in the middle of the entire Imperial storm trooper army. Of course. Wouldn’t it be easier to drive an Imperial Star Cruiser right through the Star Gate?
Sheesh, Captain Kirk would have just photon torpedoed the whole mess.
Anyway. Go see it. It’s a blast. And if you don’t cry at the end, you’re a Sith.