Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is definitely not Episode VII. All the elements of the space opera are present, but what makes it truer to the canon is the emphasis on individual moral action. The Empire is still the greater evil, but the rebels are shown to be just as morally deficient and bureaucratically inept, forcing the heroine to go ‘rogue.’ An interesting side note is that a lightsaber didn’t appear until the final 15 minutes or so of the movie. The only real defect is that the score changes are too sharp and abrupt.
Episode VII displayed far too much of Disney’s influence. The force awoke to a dead Han Solo and a pathetically inept Sith Lord commanded by an evil giant E.T. look alike. All that was left out was Rey spinning around and breaking out in song. The film ticked all of the politically correct boxes while abandoning reams of published Star Wars stories that have now been relegated to ‘Legends’ status.
In the Legends, the son of Han and Leia was named Jacen. His trip to the dark side spanned several novels and his fate somewhat defined subsequent Legends stories and series. Leaving the Legends universe was very astute as recent events have shown. It was easy to reboot the entire story because the defining medium is film and not literature, especially now that the initial actors are collecting social security.
The new Star Wars canon began in 2014 and includes the animated series on Cartoon Network. It will be interesting to see how the death of Carrie Fischer affects Episodes VIII and IX. When episodes IV, V, and VI were first in theaters, it appeared that the story was about Luke. Episodes I through III showed that it was really the story of Vader, his rise, fall, and redemption through his son. Rogue One returns to this formula with better acting and special effects, along with a touch of humour, all in one movie. The other holiday releases really don’t measure up.
One thing I totally missed was the supposed negative comments regarding the election. President-Elect Trump supporters seem a mite bit touchy, with some justification, with the entertainment industry. Still, the political atmosphere in Rogue One is liberty versus tyranny with double dealing all around. One positive image is that of a father’s love for his daughter, and that Trump meme is not something I would get riled up about. From some of the talk, you’d think Darth Vader was striding around with a “Make the Empire Great Again” old guy hat while breathing heavy chasing a three breasted alien dancer. Mark Hamill might be a Leftist moron in real life, but he wasn’t in this movie.
Rogue One does a remarkable job of filling in and closing a loop without leaving any frayed ends. It is a worthy complement to the initial series with enough chutzpah to stand on its own.