3. Rogue One

I’m sure some of you have been wondering how it’s possible that I haven’t discussed Rogue One yet, and I get it. When you think back to the history of I Am Geek (we’re a year old now of course we have a history) then you’ll remember that this site started in a glow of Star Wars love. I opened the site right around the time The Force Awakens was released and spent many of my December posts discussing the film. How could I not? It was the first great Star Wars movie since forever, and it brought hope to the franchise that the Disney involvement (and hopeful banishment of George Lucas) would turn the corner on a film series that got kicked pretty hard in the nuts by the prequels. Granted, The Force Awakens recycles a lot of themes from A New Hope, and I don’t find anything wrong with that. As a matter of fact I thought it brought the series back to it’s roots while presenting us with a new batch of characters and stories to fall in love with. It was a bridge between the old and the young. There’s a lot to be optimistic about here, and The Force Awakens reminded us that Star Wars could be fun and loving again.

So, if The Force Awakens brought hope to the franchise what did Rogue One bring? When I first heard about the idea of Rogue One, I was excited about the prospect. A Star Wars movie that wasn’t about the Skywalkers but focused on the time in between. One of the things fans loved so much about the novels (the expanded universe if you will) was that it added more depth to this universe. There were more characters living in it besides Luke, Leia, and Han. That there were these endless amounts of stories to be told and celebrated, and Rogue One was going to be the first film to broach that territory. Was it risky? Sure. People love Star Wars because they’re familiar with the characters. There is no mistaking that the love runs deep here so putting together a movie that stared none of them was a risk. But I haven’t answered the question have I? I will, I will.

Rogue One takes place before A New Hope and centers on the mission to steal the plans to the Death Star (it also explains it’s greatest flaw). When A New Hope starts Leia has stashed those plans inside R2-D2 and sends him off in the hopes of finding Obi Wan. This movie told the story about those rebels who attained those plans and the sacrifices that had to be made in order to ensure the Republic had a fighting chance against the Empire. Right off the bat I knew that was a story that I wanted to see. It sounded gritty and adventurous, not to mention such a huge part of Star Wars lore. It would be different but if it worked it could open the door to countless Star Wars possibilities, and man, did it work.

If The Force Awakens brought hope to the franchise then Rogue One reminded us why we fell in love with a galaxy far, far away in the first place. Right off the bat it’s different then any other Star Wars film you’ve seen, and yes because of that it might take a little bit for the story to find it’s legs, but once it does Rogue One takes off running and doesn’t stop until the credits roll and you find yourself uncontrollably standing while clapping and sobbing simultaneously.

This is a very ground level Star Wars story. It’s gritty, unforgiving, and unapologetic. One of my issues with the Star Wars saga has always been why the Empire is evil. We’ve always been told but never really shown why these people would want to rebel. Rogue One puts that on full display. If you ever had any questions about the Empire they all get answered here. They’re a bunch of bad dudes that put the rest of the galaxy on blast if they don’t fall in line. For me it was fun and exciting to see how all that played out. To get a better understanding for the Rebel Alliance (who aren’t a bunch of boy scouts either) and why they feel the need for a change. Not to mention we get a better understanding of the power of the Death Star. This thing isn’t a one trick pony, it’s a game changer, and obtaining the plans for it become essential and important.

On top of all this, Rogue One gives us new characters to fall in love with. Jyn Erson instantly catapulted herself into one of my favorite Star Wars characters as she came from the Princess Leia mold of strong, independent female characters. Jyn isn’t the damsel in distress she’s the one on the front lines kicking ass with everyone one else. In a lot of cases she’s the inspiration the heart that makes this mission beat. Next to her the droid K2-SO is a scene stealer and I hope that some where down the line that Marvel does a comic centered on him. His personality is unlike any other droid we’ve encountered in these films and makes us see not all of them are paranoid protocol droids speaking about impending doom.

There are easter eggs a plenty as Rogue One calls back to a number of fantastic Star Wars moments that I found myself hitting my brother in-law in the arm each time one would arise. These easter eggs never seem like they’re there for the sake of making us nostalgic but instead make this universe richer while connecting this stand alone movie to the rest of the saga. Keep your eyes open because I found them to be such small moments that reached into the heart of my childhood and gave it a hug. A reminder of the greatness of this story. I would even go so far to say that in some ways Rogue One apologizes for the prequels. Not in full because we can’t ever really rid ourselves of them (but I do wonder, now, if we could possibly remake them…) but in a way that bridges some gaps and gives a better appreciation to some of the events. Mostly Return of the Sith. I won’t go into spoilers but if you need proof of any of this the last thirty seconds of Rogue One will give you everything you’ve ever wanted as a Star Wars fan, and I say that with little exaggeration.

Rogue One has served as a reminder of what it was like falling in love with these movies as a child. Since watching it I’ve had more Star Wars conversations with friends then I can ever remember having before. The franchise is in the forefront of my mind and all I want to do is everything Star Wars. Whether it’s watching the original films (especially A New Hope which becomes even better because of Rogue One), reading the Marvel comic series, downloading books from the expanded universe (I know they’re not cannon I just want more), or starting Star Wars: Rebels I just want it all. All the time. There hasn’t been a night since I watched that I haven’t fallen asleep watching a Star Wars movie (outside of Christmas Eve which I spent watching Die Hard like a good little geek). Rogue One has reawakened a passion that has been waiting to be re-explored in full since The Force Awakens. I think Rogue One is a better film then The Force Awakens and that’s mostly because of how closely it ties in to the originals. Rogue One is the preface to Episodes IV-VI and makes them important in ways that might have been forgotten because of the prequels. And for those wondering, yes there is the re-claiming of Darth Vader but I’ll say no more on the subject.

It’s funny, when I wrote about The Force Awakens I remember saying that it awoken my love for these stories, and I don’t think I was wrong I just think that maybe it was more of an appetizer. Rogue One is the full meal and I walked away with a greater love to a film franchise that played such a huge part of my childhood (and adult years). Rogue One confirms all the reasons why you love Star Wars and makes you want to go back and live within a galaxy far, far away.

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