I’ve written quite a bit about Jyn Erso from Rogue One (in my Monday Musings and Friday Focus), but in truth, Cassian Andor is my favorite character from Rogue One. I could listen to Diego Luna talk all day.
(Spy Featurette from Rogue One blue-ray courtesy of mranderson00001.)
For some reason, I’ve just watched Rogue One for the first time. I’m not sure why I resisted watching it until now, but I’m kicking myself, because it’s absolutely amazing! I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just list a few (there’s so much!) of the things I loved about this film:
It has nothing to do with the Skywalker storyline. Let me rephrase that: it doesn’t directly have anything to do with the Skywalkers. It does quite literally tie in with A New Hope, and a Skywalker appears in the form of Darth Vader, but it’s not about that family. And don’t get me wrong; I love the Skywalker saga. Star Wars is the Skywalker saga. But it’s so refreshing to see this world from a different perspective. None of the characters are “special” in any way, they don’t have grand bloodlines. They’re just ordinary people, fighting for what they believe in. Jyn Erso, as the daughter of an important Imperial engineer, is the only one with any prominent name, but even she starts out as a criminal. There’s no Star Wars royalty here; it’s just about The People.
It’s refreshing, but still has all the familiar Star Wars elements. I love seeing the whole “New Hope” look again. The ships, the uniforms, the technology, the Rebel base on Yavin 4–everything just screams Episode 4, but obviously the special effects are even better. It’s New Hope next level. There are plenty of familiar faces, too: bringing Grand Moff Tarkin back is amazing, but I have to admit, he’s a little creepy. Darth Vader is electrifying in his brief scenes–and seeing him in that bacta tank reminds us that even though he nearly burned to death 20 years ago, he’s probably still in constant pain. Yikes. Seeing Gold Leader in his X-Wing, as well as Porkins, and was that Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s buddy from Tattoine? Cool. Two aliens, whose names escape me, from the Mos Eisley Cantina that Cassian and Jyn run into on Jedha (and are cranky as ever). Leia, played by an actress who looks remarkably like Carrie Fisher (or was that CGI too?). Bail Organa, Mon Mothma. It was fantastic seeing all these original characters.
It’s a story I never knew I needed to know. Way back when, I just took it for granted that the Rebels “somehow” got the Death Star plans, and the story began there. Turns out, it was waaaay more complicated than that. In fact, it’s one hell of a story, one full of anguish, pain, excitement, tragedy, and hope. It forces me to look at A New Hope in a different light: good people died to get this information–not just faceless unknowns, but characters we’ve come to care about. You damn well better blow up that thing! It also explains why the Death Star had such a vulnerability–it wasn’t just a random mistake, it was purposely put there. It’s more believable.
It’s edge-of-your-seat exciting. The entire third act had me biting my nails anxiously, every muscle tensed, even though I knew they would succeed in their mission. It didn’t matter; I was in an agony of suspense. How would they accomplish this impossible task? Who would live, who would die? My eyes often glaze over during long action sequences, but not this time. Every moment counted.
I’ve finally found the droid I’ve been looking for. K2SO is quite possibly the first droid I’ve ever loved in Star Wars. Sure, R2D2, BB8, and DO are adorable, but they don’t speak our language, and it’s hard to relate to them as more than just cute pets. And don’t get me started on C3P0–he’s mostly just annoyed me for the past 40 years. But this guy (as well as Solo’s L3) is a droid character I actually came to care for. I laughed at almost every sentence that came out of his, well, mouth. He’s funny and likable, sarcastic, while still having that touch of droid innocence. And those long, skinny legs! Loved, loved, loved him. I truly grieved when he unquestioningly gave his life for the cause.
Not everyone in the Empire is evil. Finn from the sequel trilogy is the first character we see that defects from the “bad guys”. It’s always interesting to see a more balanced view of both the “good” guys (who are not always perfect) and the “bad” guys (who are often just human beings like the rest of us). Galen Erso is a man with a conscience–as an Imperial engineer, he recognizes that the weapon he’s working on is truly monstrous and must not be allowed to exist. He risks his family (and ultimately loses them) and commits treason to make sure this is so. There’s also Bodhi Rook, the Imperial cargo pilot who defects and brings Galen’s message to Rebel extremist Saw Gerrera. In the earlier trilogies, the galaxy seemed to be made up of black and white; the sequel trilogy and the stand alone films explore the fact the there’s quite a large area of gray in life.
The main character is a woman. It may seem unnecessary to point this out, but I don’t think so. It’s still kind of a big deal for me. Along with Rey, she’s the heir to Princess Leia, who was a strong female character who nevertheless wasn’t the main hero of the films–Luke was. Padme was just as strong in her own way, but again, it wasn’t her hero’s journey–it was Anakin’s. In Rey, we finally get a proper female protagonist; and Jyn is her complement in Rogue One. There may be others in the canon, like Ahsoka Tano in The Clone Wars, but I’m not familiar with that story. If so, that’s fantastic. I’m planning on writing more on Jyn Erso in my Women of Star Wars series, so stay tuned.
I absolutely loved all the members of Rogue One. This group of people really lodged themselves in my heart–Jyn Erso, the prodigal daughter who is determined to give meaning to her father’s death; Cassian, the tough, crafty Rebel intelligence officer with a heart; Bodhi Rook, the erstwhile Imperial pilot whose stutterings are charming and endearing; Chirrut Imwe, the Force-sensitive Guardian of the Whills, blind and amazingly deadly with a staff; his loyal companion, Baze Malbus, who carries a big gun and an even bigger love for his friend; and of course, the irrepressible K2SO. Thrown together by circumstances, they make a great team and get the job done. I adored every one of them.
The ending crushed me–and then filled me with hope all over again. As the characters began to die off, I knew it was inevitable. Someone has to die. But all of them?! As Jyn and Cassian stumbled down to the beach and watched their doom approach, my throat closed. Does it have to be this way? my heart wailed. And the answer is, yes, of course it does. They went into this knowing they may not come back. They were willing to sacrifice their lives for it, and they did. Do I like this? No. Did it give the film more emotional heft, and make the events of A New Hope more poignant? Yes.
I haven’t even mentioned Orson Krennic, the main antagonist, or said much about Saw Gerrera, or discussed the less-than-flattering light of the Alliance in this movie, but I’ve gushed for too long here, an you get the picture. Perhaps another blog post is in order?
These are some of the reasons I loved Rogue One, a just about perfect Star Wars movie. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch it again.
Did you love Rogue One? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!