Year Released: 2016
Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna
(PG-13, 133 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction and Fantasy
“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope.” Jyn Erso
It’s billed as a “stand alone” Star Wars movie, but Rogue One really isn’t. It “stands on the shoulders of the giants” that have gone before it.
Back in 1977 an unknown cast starred in a fanciful space opera, a B movie they hoped might launch their careers. Instead, the surprise hit rocketed into the stratosphere and spawned a series of great sequels.
Rogue One is exactly the opposite. Audiences have stormed the theaters in homage to the known brand. While this latest piece of the franchise is pretty decent – certainly nothing like the series of lame prequels that hit us in the late 90s and beyond – if it had appeared out of nowhere like the original, would anyone even be talking about it?
It’s kind of like the full-blooded sibling of a famous racehorse. He looks the part, has the same great genes, but in no way does he fly around the track like his brother.
A lot of the same ingredients and even a few of the old minor actors are there. Maybe the real star is the digitally reproduced Peter Cushing, who plays Grand Moff Tarkin. The original star died in 1994.
James Earl Jones lends his rich and menacing Shakespearean voice to Darth Vader, who is at his malevolent prime in this story, chronologically just prior to the original (1977). We even have a digital version of 19-year old Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) accept the famous Death Star plans. Her digital recreation doesn’t fool us as well as Cushing’s does, though. It was a nice touch, however, joining this newest prequel to the original.
I certainly missed Harrison Ford, though, who when you think about it, was the only one who really launched his career from the franchise. It was his strange mixture of bravado, flinty exchanges with the haughty princess, and his underlying vulnerability that anchored the early films.
We have two young pilots in this film, Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor and Riz Ahmed as a defecting pilot from the Empire. They are both good guys, maybe a little too good, though. No bad boy past, no Jabba the Hutt trying to chase them down, no strutting arrogance masking inner insecurities.
Felicity Jones lends her girl power to the feisty Jyn Erso, whose courage inspires the rag tag rebels on their very own mission impossible. She is young and beautiful, all heart. Again, maybe a little too perfect. We need a few of Princess Leia’s put-downs in this overly earnest stew.
Certainly, I loved Donnie Yen as Chirrut Inwe, a blind monk who finds his inner Bruce Lee and puts dozens of Storm Troopers out of business without blinking an eye, blinded as it may be. But Yoda he is not.
We only get a glance at the fussy CP3O and the delightful R2-D2; their stand in here is K-250 (Alan Tudyk), a tall, dark, and somewhat snarky reworking of an Empire droid. His dry humor is just a touch of salt in our bland stew instead of the steady stream of spicy humor the original droids added throughout the franchise.
Forest Whitaker plays Saw Gerrera from Clone Wars past; his name a not too subtle reference to Che Guevara, the liberal icon whose visage stares us down from so many tee shirts, bloody past and brutality erased from his history. This is the only slight political slant of the film that is in any way obvious. The racial diversity of the rebels, and the lack of it in the Empire is there for all to see, but by and large, race is not an identity in this film, merely a circumstance of little or no import in the greater scheme of things, such as life and death, goodness and evil, or loyalty and love.
Perhaps the most salient and enduring element of Rogue One is the role of self-sacrifice. Here the film is less a space opera than a real war saga, where untold numbers of men and women fight for something greater than themselves and ride into the valley of death without looking back.
We salute them.
Hannah Burkhalter of My Recipes.com says it for me:
The latest installment in the Star Wars series, Rogue One, hit theaters December 16th, and has been described as the long awaited Star Wars film "for grown-ups". Well, if that's the case, we've got the perfect adult way to celebrate. Raise a glass to the continuing of a 40-year infatuation with the force with a hand-crafted, Storm Trooper-inspired cocktail.
This one’s for the dedicated fans, who have been there through all 7 movies, various novels, and stuffed toy Yodas, AND for the stubborn ones who have thus far resisted the Jedi life…there’s no time like the present to join the dark side, as they say (sorry, I just feel like I had to work that phrase in somewhere). Grab a glass and travel to a galaxy far far away with our Storm Trooper Cocktail, featuring a Death Star ice cube and a light saber garnish. –Hannah Burkhalter
Storm Troopers Cocktail
FOR THE DEATH STAR ICE CUBE:
Red food coloring
FOR THE COCKTAIL:
1/4 cup white tequila
1/4 cup sour apple flavored schnaaps
1/4 cup Midori
1 tablespoon blue curaçao
1 tablespoon sour mix
FOR THE LIGHTSABER GARNISH:
White candy coating
Red and green Sanding Sugar
1. To make the Death Star Ice Cube, fill a glass with water. Stir in red food coloring, 1 drop at a time, until water reaches desired shade of red. Pour water into your desired ice cube mold. Transfer to freezer; freeze until solid.
2. To make the cocktail, place tequila and the next 4 ingredients (through sour mix) in an ice-filled cocktail shaker; shake until combined. Place Death Star Ice Cube into a glass; pour tequila mixture into glass.
3. To make the lightsaber garnish, cut black licorice in half and trim one end to look like the tip of a sword. Melt candy coating according to package instructions; dip licorice into melted candy coating and sprinkle 3/4 of the length of the licorice with red or green sugar. Outline the remaining 1/4 of the length of the licorice with black frosting to create the handle. Repeat for as many lightsabers as you desire.