Retro Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
As the first non-Saga story, Rogue One stands apart
I remain enamored with the original trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story:
I’ll admit, the first time I heard the line, “This is a rebellion isn’t it? I rebel….” I am pretty sure I snickered.
However, the entire teaser had me thinking of pretty much nothing else in 2016. I could NOT get enough of Rogue One. It was even the impetus for my Star Wars blogging (after decades of hockey writing).
Each second of the teaser had me hitting the pause button multiple times:
- “Oh, that guy is wearing a helmet like the soldiers in A New Hope.”
- “Was that an X-wing silhouette?”
- “Whoa, those Stormtroopers got smoked!”
- “The Death Star, obviously.”
- “Was that Biggs? Did I just see Biggs?”
- “Rebel POWs!”
- “Was that a Jedi?”
You get what I’m saying. The entire movie was like that. Seriously. And I wish they kept in the “I rebel” line, too.
However, and even beyond the neck-snapping Star Was nostalgia, Rogue One contains wonderful call-backs to so many of the films I enjoyed as a child – not just the Original Trilogy.
The Dirty Dozen In Space
And the one movie the film most reminds me of is The Dirty Dozen.
Yes. I was an odd kid. You’re shocked, I know.
And I would often sit with my father or grandfather and watch the old movies that would be on cable on Sunday afternoons (on TV38 out of Boston).
Oh boy, The Dirty Dozen was a doozy.
I don’t often like to cite Wikipedia, but there’s no grades on blog posts, so:
The Dirty Dozen is a 1967 war film starring Lee Marvin and featuring an ensemble supporting cast including Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, George Kennedy, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Robert Webber, and Donald Sutherland. The film, which was directed by Robert Aldrich, was filmed in the UK at MGM-British Studios and released by MGM. It was a box office success and won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing at the 40th Academy Awards in 1968. In 2001, the American Film Institute placed the film at number 65 on their 100 Years… 100 Thrills list.
And here’s the thing, it’s violent, anxiety-driven, and pretty much everyone dies. I mean everyone.
You see the connection here?
Yeah, so when I walked out of Rogue One, I had a new admiration for all the fictional fighters for the Rebellion. Immediately, I popped in Star Wars (1977) to see how well the films connected.
The first “Star Wars Story” was conceived out of a paragraph of the original movie’s opening crawl:
Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star….
Rogue One took The Dirty Dozen, put them in space, and gave them an equally amazing cast.
But director Gareth Edwards replaced the machismo of Lee Marvin with the guts, grace, and guile of Felicity Jones. She was amazing in this movie.
Hopefully, someday, we’ll get a look at some of the takes that ended up being reshot, too.
Rogue One: Vader’s Scene
But then there is THE scene. The one when Darth Vader goes all, well, Darth Vader on the Rebel soldiers – a scene that is more violent than almost every shot in the Dirty Dozen.
I’ve written about this Sith storm previously:
Rogue One: Jyn’s Scene
However, the OTHER important scene might be the one that resonated most for me.
Jones, as young Jyn Erso, standing in front of the older leaders of the Rebel Alliance, telling them that they have to take a stand:
And you’ll notice our recent interview subject, Harb Binli himself — Benjamin Hartley — standing right behind Felicity Jones.
Expanding The Galaxy
For what it’s worth, Rogue One also expanded the Star Wars Galaxy for me. Instead of focusing down on a paragraph, the film brought the epic conflict home for me in a way that enhanced the series’ narrative in a meaningful way.
I immediately planned to devour any canon novels connected to the film, which then led to a renewed love for Star Wars books and comics. And podcasts, and YouTube videos, and what have you.
So, 703 words later, in short:
Rogue One is the reason I am typing right now. And I can’t recommend it enough.