I saw Rogue on opening day, December 15, 2016 with my friends. I’ve waited to put up my review due to spoilers, but since it’s been two weeks, it’s time to discuss it. I’m so happy that others have seen the same things that I saw, so now I feel a little better about sharing my views. So yes, I will have spoilers and I also will include an Easter Egg’s spoiler as well at the end of my post.
One thing that always bothered me about Star Wars franchise is that the Empire seemed more like the Key Stone cops as opposed to a Nazi type regime. We never really saw the Empire doing anything ‘bad.’ Sure we saw Tarkin destroy Princess Leia’s home planet, but other than that, the soldiers tried to shoot at folks and mostly looked like fools. Star Wars was a bit like an inside Joke. Yes, I love the series, but it wasn’t serious.
Not Rogue One. Rogue One showed the Dark Side of the Empire in all its gore. First was the scene of Little Jyn running home to her father and her parents shooing her off as the Krennic, the new protagonist, comes with his Imperial ships and lands near their farm. Think of Krennic as a form of Himmler in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Himmler oversaw the Nazi police force. Now put Himmler on an Imperial Cruiser and you have Krennic. Krennic was our first glimpse into the dark side of the Imperial army. Krennic’s job was simple, find Galen and bring him back to continue work on the Death Star and use his family as hostages, kill anyone who gets in the way. Sounds like Himmler, doesn’t it?
The Empire had at one time forced Galen, Jyn’s father, to make the Death Star, something he found revolting. So he made a flaw in the system so that one day, someone could destroy the horrible thing. Krennic orders Jyn’s mother’s death and captures her father. And Jyn witnesses all of this . She hides for days until a friend rescues her. Years go by and we finally see an adult Jyn who escapes or is rescued shall I say, by Capt Cassian and off they do to find her father and hopefully destroy the Death Star.
The next Dark Side of the Empire was at a planet named Jehda, in a city called Ni Jehda. This resembles The Holy Vatican City in Italy, the center of the Catholic Faith. It is considered Holy Ground by some people. Ni Jehda was at one time the center worship city for the Jedi followers. Pilgrims would go to Ni Jehda to learn more about the Force. I’m sure Qui-Gon and Obi Wan had visited it at one time. The Empire took over Jehda planet to mine the Kyber Crystal deposits, used by the Jedi to create their light sabers. Thus they destroyed a Holy Place and had little concern for others’ faiths. Think of it as the Nazi destroying The Vatican City and stealing all her priceless items.
Krennic chases Jyn and Cassian to Jehda and tries to capture them. The two get away and meet Rook, a defecting Imperial pilot who has information about Jyn’s father. As a result, these three escape. But here’s the very sad part. There are people in Ni Jehda. Some are left overs from the good-old-days, people who refuse to leave their holy grounds. Some are simply stopping off to refuel and others are hiding from the law. Children are in this city along with other innocent people. Tarkin, think of him as Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler’s second in command, is a nasty little cockroach. Tarkin refuses to believe that Krennic’s baby, the Death Star, can do anything at all. So Krennic gives him a demonstration, he destroys the Vatican City and all those innocent people. And Tarkin breathes out, “It’s beautiful.” As harmless people are snuffed out.
Then we move on to Jyn finding her father who is on another planet. Krennic is of course with him and learns that someone on his team leaked out the plans of the Death Star. He lines up all the scientists on the team and demands to know who leaked the plans. Galen confesses that he was the one, let the others go. But our little Nazi decides to have some fun and kills all the scientists. Sound familiar?
Now let’s move onto D-Day, also known as Normandy beach. Jyn and her small band of rebels decide to steal the plans themselves as since there is no proof that the plans exist, the rebel council can’t agree in pursuing it. Cassian wants to fight because he’s done horrible things to others. He’s assassinated people, seen people die and he looks suddenly very tired and very guilty. He wants this to be over. He’s done. Star Wars isn’t some game to him, it’s seeing his loved ones and his friends perish around him.
This small army lands on Scarif to steal the plans. The group makes a strategy to attack the facility and eventually other rebels show up to help them. Jyn succeeds in getting the information to the rebels and escapes from a fallen Krennic. But Tarken aka Heydrich, wants to destroy everything in the facility . So he fires the Death Star and kills everyone including his men. And of course, all our heroes die. All of them! If they would have had a dog on the rebel ship, they would have killed the dog also. That’s a lot of blood. Tarkin doesn’t believe in Our Band of Brothers. These aren’t his brothers, these are rags that he uses and he flings away, an army of people who trusted in him and followed him. And worse, you see the betrayal in the eyes of his soldiers. Chilling.
So what does all this carnage mean? That Star Wars is no longer the Space Opera that makes fun of itself which we have come to know and love. No, it’s war and it’s gory. Now I understand why Luke’s Uncle wanted him to stay on the farm instead of enlisting into the army. He didn’t want to lose his boy. I now long to see the boy Luke who played with his ships and whined like a child. I don’t want to see him become a man in such a horrible way. Now I understand why Leia was so adamant about stopping the Empire. How many friends did she see die? How much blood did she see?.How quickly did she have to grow up? Everyone in the SW movies seemed almost numbed as if they were robots following orders. It seemed odd that the rebels rarely mourned over the dead, but who has time to mourn when bombs are falling around them? I understand why the X-fighters risked so much. It was the same way the Allies in WW2 risked so much, because they had seen too much and understood the risks. And they knew what would happen if they lost.
On September 11, 2001, I drove to work and I was late, really late and stuck in traffic. And I heard the news that changed the world, Terrorists slammed planes into the Twin Towers and suddenly, terrorism wasn’t over there, it was here. Things changed in the US the way things have changed for us, the Star Wars viewers. No longer will we see winy Luke, no, now we see an innocent and naive boy who will soon see the horrors of war. We no longer see a handsome Han Solo, but someone who tried to stay alive in the middle of a hell. We no longer see a bossy princess, but someone who probably suffered from PTSD and still had to lead. And worse, we saw the last of the Jedi.
So is Rogue One a great movie? Yes but is also heartbreaking because like the characters, we too grew up way too fast and now watch the SW films with tears in our eyes because we too have seen too much.