Disney goes ‘Rogue’ with new Star Wars film

Jack Johnson is a columnist for the College Heights Herald.

Jack Johnson

If nothing else, Mickey is a very, very wealthy mouse. Disney owns the rights to Marvel Entertainment, LucasFilm and even ESPN. For this reason, it is my hope that one day we will see a film starring Iron Man and Lebron James as buddy cops who are also Jedi.

As the first of three planned Star Wars spinoff movies, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” does a great job of delivering a distinctively Star Wars experience that is also separate from the main saga.

If you’re not already familiar, “Rogue One” takes place in the time immediately preceding the original Star Wars film, “A New Hope.” The plot of “Rogue” is centered around a band of unlikely heroes who steal the plans to the Empire’s super weapon, the Death Star. It’s pretty basic stuff. So, let’s get into it.

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Admittedly, the film’s first 20 or so minutes come off a little shaky. In an attempt to introduce the main cast, “Rogue” jumps all over the place before it gets its bearings.

Once you’re strapped in for the long haul things get increasingly better. In fact, after meeting them, the main cast become the heart of the film. Honestly, I was worried the film would spend too much time on character development and not the story itself, but it finds a good balance.

Though the cast is one of the highlights of the film, for me, the inclusion of Saw Guerera, played by Forest Whitaker, seemed unnecessary to the plot. The character originated in another Star Wars spinoff, “The Clone Wars,” which saw its syndicated run on Cartoon Network a few years ago.

It seems Gerrera was placed in the movie to add a link between the two pieces of expanded canon, though the execution of this concept is flawed. He’s not a bad character in and of itself, but he does so little it’s strange that he’s even there.

One of the best aspects of the movie for me was how it seemed to mix the spectacle of the prequel trilogy with the atmosphere of the originals. The prequel trilogy, for all the grief we give it, had some very cool imagery. It really fleshed Star Wars out, even if there was not an awful lot of “war” going on.

On the other end, watching the original movies as a kid, I never felt as if the Empire was really that much more powerful than the Alliance, even with the Death Star. “Rogue One” depicts the Empire as an all-encompassing force, with an iron fist over the galaxy at large. The film adequately portrays how dangerous it is to mess with Imperial operations at any level, let alone mount a full assault on one of their bases. It’s thrilling to watch Rebel troops charge Imperial forces, only to be hopelessly outclassed. The original trilogy never made me think the Rebels could actually fail – “Rogue One” did, and that made it feel more real.

Now, I’m warning you, reader, there are minor spoilers ahead. Although I’m not sure if they’re spoilers, because anyone who has seen “A New Hope” can probably infer that the folks who retrieved the Death Star plans are as toast as Texas.

There are a few scenes in “Rogue One” that are centered around Darth Vader, the series’ most iconic villain. He’s not the main antagonist by any means, but he is a lingering element. Now, consider this fact: audiences have been waiting nearly forty years to see Darth Vader as the terrifying powerhouse he is depicted as; in 1977, we didn’t have CGI to make Vader slaughter an entire team of Rebels in seconds. We do now. Go see the film while you still can.