A surprising entry to one of the biggest franchises in film history, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story stands out as a narrative of hope and heroism that successfully touches upon the roots of its parent series.
Serving as a prequel/spin-off to George Lucas’s original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, it tells the story of the elite team responsible for stealing the plans to the Death Star, and chronicles their journey throughout the galaxy and their fight against the Empire.
Compared to the original trilogy’s themes and tone, Rogue One is presented with despair and struggle. Highlighting the time period between the fall of the Jedi and the eventual rise of the Rebel Alliance, the presence of the Empire’s reign pervades the narrative and characterization of the heroes. Although war is continuously ever present, hope persists among those who believe in the force.
This is where Rogue One truly shines, as its storytelling involves the realities of war and integrates it to a cinematic universe known for its heroic tendencies. Unlike Luke Skywalker, whose destiny was forged by his lineage, each of the heroes are presented with scars that individually motivates their fight for the cause.
Their casting proved to be an important factor as well, as the diversity of both gender and race allowed for a more expansive depiction as well as attraction from its intended audience.
Its connection to the original franchise also extends to its cinematography and direction, which made use of heavy on-site filming compared to the prequel trilogy’s notorious use of CGI landscapes. Although the music was composed by Michael Giacchino, he takes clear inspiration from John Williams‘ work from the original films.
Overall, Rogue One successfully manages to fill the big shoes that George Lucas filled. It also brings a little more expectation behind other planned prequel stand-alone films such as the Han Solo project, further expanding the Star Wars cinematic universe. It covers many of the story aspects first raised in Episode IV, and would surely be a treat for both fans and those new to the franchise.