When you think Star Wars, you think of Han, Leia, Luke, Vader and pretty much of everyone in the original trilogy. Some people might also first think of Rey, Qui-Gon, Mace, BB-8 depending on which movies they grew up with. Rogue One was the first movie that did not have any feature any meaningful characters from the previously established movies. It did not feature any Jedi or Sith (Darth Vader makes an appearance but we do not explore the different Jedi/Sith philosophies in this movie. He is more of a super solider than a Sith) and in a fantastic move it killed off all of its protagonist at the end. Rogue One is an amazing movie and sets an amazing standard for the Disney Star Wars movies.
One thing Star Wars seems to be lacking is an actual war. In all 8 main movies, the only war that is ever mentioned and seen are the Clone Wars in episode III and it is used rather poorly as a backdrop. Furthermore, the presence of the Jedi and Sith pulls away from the war aspect with its mysticism. Rogue One defied these traditional characteristics and became an actual war movie that was based in the Star Wars universe. The rebels do not always act in a virtuous manner as they did in the original trilogy (OT). In the opening scene Cassain tries to kill Jyn’s father, Saw Gurerra tortures Bodhi, and we often see the rebel leaders fight amongst each other will countless lives at stake. This is a huge contrast to the Rebels in the OT who were clearly good guys and were well organized. It adds character and depth to the universe.
Rogue One added Chirrut (Donnie Yen), a blind monk who meditated with the Force. Chirrut was not a force user in a traditional Jedi sense, yet he believed in the Force and used it as a way to “see.” It is only the second way in the entire saga that we see the Force used for non-violence means. It gives us a sense that the Force can be used by anyone, not just the Jedi and the Sith.
On a personal level, I liked Jyn Erso a lot and thought she made a great heroine. She had no responsibility at all helping the rebellion, but did in honor of her father. Her relationship with Cassain at best and her scene doesn’t end with the two of them kissing, but rather with them looking at their death, knowing that they had succeeded in sparking the rebellion with its first meaningful victory.
Finally, this movie made me realize why Vader was terrifying. Darth Vader has always been a powerful figure, yet I never understood why he was considered to be terrifying until I saw the hallway scene in Rogue One. No movie has ever elicited that much terror out of me before and in that moment, I felt the fear that the rebels have always had of Vader.
Rogue One is not the greatest Star Wars movie but it adds an extra human element that I didn’t know Star Wars was missing. This movie was dark and gritty but it still managed a joyous ride, especially the end. Rogue One changed the standard Star Wars formula and I think it changed it for the better.