Fangirl Friday: Rogue One

Greetings, fellow travelers. Just saw Star Wars: Rogue One again, and I wanted to chit-chat about it. screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-7-07-47-pm

WARNING! There will be some spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen it and you’re planning on doing so, STOP READING THIS BLOG! JUST STOP! FOR REALZ! I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING!

SPOILERS!!!!
OMG!!!!

Okay. You’ve been warned.

I’m a huge space opera fan, which means I am also a Star Wars fangirl and have been since the first episode (IV: A New Hope) blasted onto movie screens across the country in 1977. I will admit, however, that I am not a fan of episodes I-III, which were backstory to IV-VI (and later, VII). There are many reasons for my not fangirling over those episodes and I’m not going to get into them here.

Rather, let us discuss Rogue One.

Released in December 2016, Rogue One is considered a standalone story, but it serves also as a direct prequel to New Hope. In fact, it ends just hours before New Hope picks up. It’s the story of how the Rebel Alliance managed to get the Death Star plans that Princess Leia (RIP Carrie Fisher) hides in R2D2 before she’s taken into custody.

There’s a large, diverse cast of characters in Rogue One, and what’s interesting is that though Jyn Erso is a main focus of the film and she is a prominent character, she’s surrounded by some strong secondary and tertiary characters that emphasize that this is not necessarily Jyn’s story alone, but rather the story of how the Rebellion got the plans, and how Jyn’s life is inextricably bound to those plans because of her father.

Jyn Erso, portrayed by Felicity Jones
Jyn Erso, portrayed by Felicity Jones

Jyn’s father, scientist Galen Erso (actor Mads Mikkelsen), is co-opted into the Imperial regime to build a planet-killing weapon that will come to be known as the Death Star. He does not want to do this terrible thing, but if he does not, he knows the Empire will imprison or do worse to Jyn. So, in Rogue One’s first scenes, we see Galen and his wife and very young daughter Jyn on their farming outpost on the backwater outpost planet Lah’mu, but Imperial officer Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) has come for him. Jyn is probably 5 or 6 at this point, and she escapes and is taken in by family ally and Rebellion supporter Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).

Cut, like, 15 years into the future and we see that Jyn has had some problems along the way because she’s currently being held in an Imperial prison, having spent a good portion of her life on the run, dealing in black markets, and doing whatever she could to survive. She has not seen her father since he was taken from the family farm and she has no idea where he is or even what he’s having to do. Nevertheless, the Rebellion is aware that something is afoot and that the Empire is building some kind of weapon that will have capabilities beyond anything anyone has seen. So Jyn is basically sprung from the hoosgow by Rebel forces and spirited away to the Rebel base on Yavin 4 where it’s revealed that her father is probably still alive and they need her to help them access Saw Gerrera to try to find out where Galen is and what the deal is with this weapon.

Cassian Andor, portrayed by Diego Luna
Cassian Andor, portrayed by Diego Luna

Jyn’s primary accompaniment to find Saw Gerrera on the small moon of Jedha is Rebel intel officer Cassian Andor. Jedha is under the dictates of the Empire, which is mining its kyber crystals, which in turn are being used to power the Death Star. Kyber crystals are also used to power light sabers (in case you want to make one down the line). While on Jedha, some shit hits the fan and Jyn, Cassian, and a few folks they end up with have to make a rapid escape because Krennic tests the Death Star on Jedha.

However, Jyn found out from Saw Gerrera that her father actually built a flaw into the Death Star so that it can be destroyed and that they need to get the plans from the Imperial archive on another planet.

So that is now the primary directive, but because Jyn isn’t considered trustworthy and nobody else witnessed this hologram that Saw showed her, they go to find Galen to try to convince the Rebel forces that they need to get the Death Star plans. However, Cassian has other instructions that Jyn doesn’t know about with regard to Galen, and a lot of things will come to a head before our motley band goes in search of the plans.

I’m going to leave the plot there and talk now about the top 10 things that I really dug about Rogue One:

ONE: Jyn. OMG . Strong woman, kicking ass and taking names. And she is quite the badass. I also like the fact that she has a checkered past, and is thus a reluctant sort of hero. She was not interested in the Rebellion, but when she thought there might be a chance to see her father again, she was all in and you watch her evolve from just focusing on that to embracing the larger cause of the Rebellion, and you see her humanity come out and a strong inner grace. Jyn also plays an absolutely crucial role in retrieving the plans from the Imperial archive, and does some badass shit to do it.

TWO: Cassian Andor. I read a great piece last week in which a woman wrote about taking her father to see Rogue One because her father is from Mexico and she wanted him to see a blockbuster movie with a hero who sounds like him. The post went on to say that after the movie, the fact that Luna maintained his accent in the movie stuck with her dad, who is 60 years old, and he was amazed that a huge movie like that, making tons of money, included a main character who sounded like him. Representation matters. It does. And I loved how Luna brought Cassian to life. Here’s a man who has literally lost practically everything, but he continues to throw himself into the fray because he knows how bad the Empire is. It’s not just about him, it’s about the fate of the damn galaxy, and everybody in it. He plays Cassian with a quiet intensity and drive, but somewhere in there, he still believes in good.

THREE: Strong secondary characters warrior monk Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his protector/possibly more than that, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). Chirrut is blind, but a staunch believer in and user of The Force and holy shitballs, you have to see this guy fight.

Chirrut Îmwe, portrayed by Donnie Yen
Chirrut Îmwe, portrayed by Donnie Yen

Yen is a Hong Kong action star and champion martial artist, and he developed his own style of martial arts for this film, so the scenes with him throwing down are UNBELIEVABLE.

Baze, for his part, has become somewhat skeptical of The Force, but he is totally loyal to Chirrut, and there is nothing he would not do for him. Which opens another possibility — there are rumors in the fandom that Baze and Chirrut are a same-sex couple, and indeed, I kind of wondered when I watched them onscreen, because they have this cute married-couple vibe and I know that they’re being shipped right now, and it’s really cool to think about the Star Wars franchise opening up to more overt queer rep. Chirrut and Baze are by no means overt, but the subtexts are fun and the rapport the two characters have is really delightful to watch. Plus, they’re both badasses and have each other’s backs no matter what, and I love that.

Baze Malbus, portrayed by Jiang Wen
Baze Malbus, portrayed by Jiang Wen

FOUR: See the first three things I listed. Diversity. I love seeing different kinds of characters with different accents portrayed in really interesting roles and here, it really gave a sense of this alliance of all kinds of human and nonhuman characters coming together to work for a greater cause. I loved that aspect of this film. Also, shout-out to character Bodhi Rik (Riz Ahmed), a former Imperial pilot who defected to the Rebellion and brought the message from Galen to Saw Gerrera. Bodhi is responsible for the Rogue One name, because he made it up on the fly for the Imperial ship the motley band of rebels flew to Scarif.

FIVE: Visually stunning. OMG the landscapes. Holy shit. The Star Wars franchise is well known for its settings, and Rogue One brought some serious competition to the table. From the stark desert hoodoos and buttes and baked surface of Jedha to the foreboding drenched crags and canyons of Eadu to the blazing sun, palm trees, and beaches of Scarif, this is a tour de force of landscape and topography. The final battles at Scarif also bring a different form of Imperial Walker out — though they look like the At-Ats from Empire Strikes Back, these are At-Acts. They’re larger, with larger cargo beds for movement of heavy construction materials.

Jedha (screenshot from trailer)
Jedha (screenshot from trailer)
Battle scene, Scarif
Battle scene, Scarif

SIX: The franchise is also known for its sidekick droids. Everyone knows of C3PO and R2D2, but Rogue One‘s is K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk; fanfolk may know him as Wash from Firefly), a reprogrammed Imperial droid who is the snarkiest mofo ever. Cassian explains to Jyn that his reprogramming affected his responses, so he basically says whatever he wants. LOL We’re first introduced to him in Jyn’s rescue, and when I saw this movie for the first time, I knew K-2SO was a totally different kind of droid and I really enjoyed his petulance toward and eventual acceptance of Jyn. Plus, he had some great one-liners. Like the other droids in the franchise, K-2SO often serves as some comic relief.

K-2SO with Jyn and Cassian. I wanted you to get a sense of his size in relation to humans.
K-2SO with Jyn and Cassian. I wanted you to get a sense of his size in relation to humans.

SEVEN: No overarching main character, though Jyn definitely was a focal point. I say “overarching” because here, the theme of this film wasn’t about one person, necessarily. I mean, it was insofar as Jyn was needed to access a contact of Galen, but what I liked about this film is that it wasn’t really about one person. It was the story of how a group of humans and nonhumans came together and did this amazing thing to stop a terrible thing. So though Jyn could probably be considered a main character, the other characters with her all had their own reasons for fighting for the Rebellion, and they all channeled their energy into this one thing they had to do. And they did so willingly, sacrificing themselves if necessary. That was pretty powerful.

EIGHT: Easter eggs. For those not in the know, an “Easter egg” is a fun, self-referential tidbit/bit of info dropped into a movie, e.g., for fans to pick up on. Rogue One has bunches of these and I doubt I caught them all. The EEs include visuals that you’ll recognize from episodes IV-VI; a couple of characters from IV that should jog your memory; references to the Jedi (as you pan over the landscape of Jedha, really have a look at those massive fallen statues); and references to Star Wars: Rebels, which is an animated series that premiered as a short film in 2014 on the Disney Channel. SWR takes place 14 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and 5 years before New Hope, and Rogue One Easter egged from that series, which actually serves to tie the franchise all together, and that is pretty cool.

NINE: I was thinking about Rogue One and how it addressed the Rebellion and the characters in the storylines and I realized that Rogue One changed the franchise and it did something that no other film in the franchise really has. It brought the Rebellion and the sacrifices that were made in it to life. This is an emotionally brutal film. It opens the Star Wars galaxy to people beyond those in the Skywalker and Solo circles, and Rogue One characters do die in this horrible war that has been going on for so long (I’m not going to tell you who or how, but be prepared). Like this writer at MoviePilot said, Rogue One has made me look at New Hope with an entirely different perspective, and I now think about the sacrifices that were made to get that disk of plans to Leia. Speaking of, I now totally get her anger in IV-VI. She’s been fighting this damn war forever and seen so many people die. No wonder. Rogue One has given me new windows into New Hope. And Leia does appear in Rogue One and yes, I cried because I saw the movie again after Fisher’s death.

TEN: No overt romance. Now, some of you may think, WTF, ANDI? I FREAKING LIVE FOR ROMANCE AND SEXY-TIMES WHY ARE YOU TOTES AGAINST IT? First, I am not. Second, the Star Wars franchise isn’t really filled with romance and sexy-times, though there are some relationships that are explored but not in sexy-time depth, if you get my meaning. I like that the point of this movie was all these people throwing down to save the damn galaxy. They had things to think about other than sexy-time, and I appreciate that. It feels realistic. Even in Star Wars IV-VI, with the relationship between Han and Leia, you didn’t get much sexy-time and they didn’t really play it up as a major focus. Because they all had shit to do.

I liked that strong women and men were in this film who didn’t immediately start making googly eyes at each other and flirting. Though Jyn and Cassian do seem to be drawn together after moments of antagonism, it’s not necessarily based on “YUM I WANNA HIT THAT.” Rather, it’s based on shared pain and a shared purpose and they develop a very nice camaraderie that carries them through the final battles. It was refreshing, to see characters interacting like that, and developing relationships on mutual respect and shared goals rather than “HOTTIE.” So if you’re looking for sexy-time in this movie, not there. 🙂

See a trailer:

And if you’ve seen this film and you want to chime in below, please do!

May The Force be with you.

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9 thoughts on “Fangirl Friday: Rogue One

  1. I loved the movie and everything you said was spot on. Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher have been my hero’s since that day I walked out of the theater in 1977. I can still remember looking up at the big screen in those last scenes of A New Hope with tears in my eyes thinking…OMG…I want to be just like her. Seeing her in the final scene of Rogue One was both bitter sweet and wonderful. It took me back to that day when I was seven years old and how one Saturday afternoon at the movies with my Dad changed the way I looked at the world.

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  2. I read this blog first thing this morning, and wrote a long comment about it. Only to find it did not post. I will try again. *sigh*

    I loved all your observations about the movie. I’ve only seen episodes I, II, and III once each and that was too many times. I don’t even consider them part of the movie franchise. As far as the prequels are concerned, I’m convinced they are the result of George Lucas and the president of being locked in a room with twinkies and piped in Nickleback music. There were no movies before Rogue One, only written lore.

    I’ve carried a Star Wars love for a very long time. For many of us it was a taste of what a woman baddass could be, grabbing the gun and doing a better job than the traditional ‘heroes’ of the time. (Carrie Fisher) Despite the negative few negative critiques that Rogue One received (too long, too much jumping planets, the end was too dark..) I thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was and what it was not. Specifically, I liked the fact that there was no romantic byline. There is a time and a place for everything, and a battle for survival, nor does a desperate woman faced with her own mortality lend to such frivolity.

    My favorites:
    Jyn Erso: She was a criminal, a scoundrel and she gave off a sense of loneliness, desperation, and tenacity. She was our anti-hero.

    K-2SO: I’m convinced that there has never been a more discontent, snarky, mean, and sarcastic robot in the history of such things. Maybe the closest character would be Marvin, the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Seriously, he had so many great lines! “Congratulations, you are being rescued. Please do not resist.” , “Did You Know That Wasn’t Me?”, “I’ll Be There For You. The Captain Said I Had To.”, “There Were A Lot Of Explosions For Two People Blending In.”, and many many more. I was probably most sad when he ‘died’ over all the characters.

    Chirrut Îmwe: I was never sure if he was able to move and sense things as a result of his blindness and innate sense of where everything was, or from the force. But he truly believed, despite his lack of light saber, or Jedi robes. And it was enough of a belief that his companion, Baze Malbus, would following him to the end of eternity and back. That is dedication and love.

    All in all, the movie delivered exactly what it promised which was the tale of loss and sacrifice that ultimately resulted in saving countless lives throughout the galaxy.

    On a side note: I actually won tickets through my employer for a private screening on opening night (that Friday), which included fully reclining seats, free popcorn and free soda, plus no previews. We surprised my partners two boys (7 & 10) with it that night at dinner.
    While discussing the movie to come with the oldest (my nerd buddy) I made an offhand remark “Well based on the fact that the plans came at great cost, watch, they’ll probably kill everyone off!” Then we laughed because it was a Disney movie and they would never be that dark. Fast forward 3 hours from that comment… “Uh… I guess they did kill them all. Jeez!”
    The 10 year old says “Well that’s not how I would have ended it!” all matter of fact like. I thought maybe he wanted some of the characters to live or something.
    “Oh yeah? What would you have done, buddy?”
    His response took me by surprise. “I don’t think we needed to see the part where Vader comes on the ship at the end. That was unnecessary.” That was all he would have changed.

    LOL. But yeah, we loved it. And the comment I got at the end of the night while driving home?
    “Best.Surprise.Ever!” Not too bad for a supplemental parent.

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  3. I loved this film. Having made a point of going to see it in the old picturehouse rather than at a multiplex, I sat in the front row of the upper circle, which was perfect for catching the stunning visuals. I need to watch it again to catch all the Easter Eggs, though.

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  4. I loved Rogue One (but I have loved every Star Wars movie even the animated Clone Wars movie). I’ve seen it twice already and I’m seriously considering seeing it again on one of my days off next week. I personally think the ending of the movie is the best one in the franchise so far, though right now it’s also the most heartbreaking. I was blown away by the feeling of hope this movie left me with after watching the events unfold on Scarif, I felt more hope in that one heavily CGI’d scene than I did at any other point in the franchise, even those shots of baby Luke and Leia from ROTS.

    My biggest problems with Star Wars over the last decade or so have been George gutting Padme’s story line in ROTS (which was in the script, the novelization and actually filmed only to be cut out) that I knew would make her as important to the Rebellion as Bail and Mon Mothma; and Disney essentially flushing the Expanded Universe down the toilet. I don’t understand George’s reason for taking an awesome storyline from Padme and then allowing a male video game character to have some of it and while I understand why Disney handled the EU the way they did it has annoyed me to see bits of the original EU show up in the last two movies. Which is why, though I was excited for Rogue One, I was also very leery of the movie for many reasons not the least of which was the bloody title. A lot of fans know that Rogue Squadron existed because of Luke and that he was the original Rogue One so the title of the movie alone grated on my nerves. After seeing the movie, I can understand why they gave it that title and it makes sense, but honestly it still bugs me that Luke will no longer be the first Rogue One. As a huge fan of the original EU and one who’s absolute favorite character in the SW universe has been Mara Jade from the first time I read Heir to the Empire, all the speculation that Jyn and Luke would end up being Rey’s parents annoyed me to no end, so when Rogue One started and Jyn’s story seemed to be starting fairly similar to Mara’s background I honestly almost walked out of the theater until it became clear that it wasn’t the Empire who found her little hidey hole. For more than 20 years Mara Jade has been one of the best fictional anti-heroes I’ve ever read and while I adore Jyn after seeing Rogue One, she’s not anywhere near the level of awesomeness that Mara occupies so I’m very thankful that the writers did not try to replace Mara Jade with Jyn Erso. I’d give almost anything to have Mara Jade brought back into the new canon but I might have walked away from Star Wars for good if they had replaced her with Jyn.

    Like you I absolutely loved K2SO, he made me laugh several times throughout the movie and reminded me of a less homicidal version of HK-47 from the original Knights of the Old Republic game. I’m a little disappointed in myself for not realizing right away that it was Alan Tudyk voicing K2SO since I’m usually pretty good at picking out voice actors thanks to years of picking out the voice work of Jennifer Hale, Ali Hillis, Troy Baker and Nolan North in video games.

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  5. I loved the irony of Vader building his home (castle) on the same planet where he got chopped into little Vader-y bits.
    The ending: I’m so glad they didn’t have them kiss while the world blew up around them. That hug was far more potent. Two people who had given everything for what they believed in, taking a moment of grace and comfort before they die.
    I appreciated the worldbuilding where the Force was no longer the ‘property’ of the Jedi. (and the Sith) Various iterations/expressions of it had blossomed after the decimation of the Jedi in Ep III. Chirrut was a practitioner of one of them, and I wonder where Maz Kanata will fit into it all. 🙂
    The fallen Jedi statue in the desert took my breath away when I saw it in the trailer, but on the big screen? EMEGHERD!!!
    IN spite of the ‘discussions’ around CGI-ing Tarkin and Leia, their inclusion was perfect. I wonder how, and if, General Organa will show up in Ep IX. Watching EP VIII will be an interesting experience. Hopefully enough time will have passed for it to not be too sad, and we’ll be able to appreciate Carrie’s performance separate from her death. I wonder if Disney will commission more books that feature Leia’s adventures? … growing up, life with Han, etc
    It made my little fandyke heart sing when that last shot seamlessly meshed with the first one from EP III. If the two were edited together there’d be no time lapse at all.

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    1. I have to agree about Vader’s castle being on Mustafar, in fact I couldn’t help but laugh both times I saw the movie. I was also pleased to see the movies finally showing other non-Jedi Force users. I’d love to see them show more about groups like the Witches of Dathomir or even the exceptions the old Jedi Order made to the Jedi Code for certain people. The EU was full of more than just the Jedi when it came to the Force so it was nice to see it on the big screen.

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