Rogue One a blast to watch

Graphic Illustration/ Fabrizio Orsi de Paula

Graphic Illustration/ Fabrizio Orsi de Paula

Fabrizio Orsi de Paula, Business Manager/ Cartoonist

Last week, on Dec. 16, Star Wars fanatics (and there are many of them) commuted to the nearest movie theatre, dutifully purchased their popcorns or snack of preference and gleefully gave their tickets to the usher, before sitting in their seats, anxious for what lies ahead. The screen says, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”. Their hearts skipped a beat.

The franchise, one of the most famous of all time, took a hit after the disappointing prequel trilogy, but seems to be on its way back after “The Force Awakens”. “Rogue One” most certainly contributes to that, too.

The movie manages to create a completely new story while still maintaining the essential elements that make the Star Wars franchise what it is. The characters and settings are different, but the exotic visuals, sounds and atmosphere are there as always.

Speaking of visuals, it goes without saying that this movie looks absolutely incredible. From the arid desert of Jedha to the Caribbean-like beaches of Scarif, the settings feel real and have uncanny beauty. What’s even more impressive than the landscapes is how CGI was able to resurrect Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin, especially because the actor passed away in 1994. Another characters who received this treatment is Princess Leia, even though she only appeared briefly at the end. Even though they are not perfect, they do the job well and offer us a nod to the original trilogy.

Maybe the greatest aspect of “Rogue One” is how it provides the audience with a story for the opening scrawl of “A New Hope”, which read, “Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.During the battle, rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star”. Before this movie, that excerpt may have been shrugged off by the audience as just something that happened and they’re just supposed to accept it. Now, there’s a backstory. We know what happened. It’s not just a given anymore — it’s real. The fact that the four screenwriters were able to come up with such a dense, exciting story from that short phrase is indeed quite an achievement. There aren’t many movies that can leave you shaking at the end, but this is definitely one of them.

It’s also a perfect bridge between Episode III and Episode IV. At the end of the movie, after the base in Scarif is destroyed, the plans are delivered to a rebel officer. At that moment, fans immediately start thinking of the opening sequence in Episode IV. The scene that follow is a frightening Darth Vader mowing down rebels with terrifying ease and characteristic brutality. They can’t escape; the door is jammed. It’s opened just enough that the officer is able to squeeze his hand through, passing the Death Star plans on as Vader’s lightsaber rips through him and the door. His rebel ally watches in horror. He then sprints through the bright hallways in their ship, the alarm blaring. Eventually, he’s able to find a figure dressed in a white cloak, in what seems to be the control room, staring off into space. He hands her the plans and asks what was given to them.

“Hope,” Princess Leia said.

The ship detaches from the larger station. It is a familiar one; we’ve seen it in Episode IV right at the beginning. From there, the plot just starts playing on one’s head.

If there’s anything negative about the movie, is how confusing it is at times. There are so many characters it’s hard to even remember all their names. Their participation in the movie is remarkable, as most play a big part in the plot, but it’s a challenge to figure out who’s who in a conversation or when reading about the movie. There are various distinct locations too, and the movie jumps between them quite often in the beginning. Also, the absence of John William’s characteristic Star Wars opening fanfare and the classic opening crawl feel odd, but don’t necessarily hinder the overall experience.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” offers stunning visuals, a strong story and characters and a bit of nostalgia, which are sure to entertain fans who are familiar or not with the franchise. In the bigger picture, it is possibly the best Star Wars movie apart from the original trilogy.

 

Rating: 10/10