The anticipation in our house had been building the entire year for the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The boys walked out of The Force Awakens last January eager to see the next installment as if it were being released a week from then.
Throughout the year, to keep the excitement alive, the boys read articles on character development, rumors, spoilers (much to my dismay) and the expected story-line. When the commercials started to play on the television screen and trailers hit social media, they would wring their hands with excitement and their faces would light up as if they were preparing to meet Princess Leia herself.
**Read our review of The Force Awakens here.
So the day finally arrived. The day after Christmas, the five of us hopped into the family van and drove to the theater to see the first showing of the day. As you may recall, seeing the first showing is pretty important in our family – it’s the safest time for our son with food allergies to be in a theater like this. When we arrived, the venue was already crowded and I feared a thickly populated theater, but then I remembered that Sing! had also just opened, so the littles I saw running around were likely headed to one of the two theaters showing that movie instead…or so I thought.
**Read our son’s food allergy story by clicking here.
We purchased our tickets and headed straight to find seats. Even the concession lines were long, so we walked on by to ensure we could find five seats together (don’t worry ~ hubby went and grabbed some popcorn and Coca-Cola and made it just in time for the previews). We were fortunate! Before the movie began, nearly every seat was taken….but our little guy had his end seat and his own safe snacks, so we were good and ready to jump into hyperspace together!
The previews cycled through and then…the lights dimmed…the music began and we were off on our galactic journey to a galaxy far, far away! Whoo-hoo!
“In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.” Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
First things first
Our youngest is ten and I know many have said that the PG-13 rating should imply that no child younger than 13 years of age should see this. Our son has two older brothers and movies are discussed in our home candidly and vividly. We knew he would be able to handle the intense battles, hideous looking creatures and tremendous sacrifice. We also knew that our son was interested in the story-line and would be able to sit through it engaged appropriately. As a side note for those curious as to whether or not they should take their littles, this is obviously a personal parental decision. You know your children and what they can and cannot handle. I have heard that a handful of families have had to escort their children out, but most of these children are either still in the single digits of their life or have difficulties processing certain actions, emotions or situations. I have no need to hold my tongue ~ there are intense scenes and, in fact, the director, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters), himself has admitted to attempting to create real life war on screen. “Make no mistake. This is war.” The battle scenes are certainly darker and grittier, but the film is ultimately a story of conflict and almost requires the “boots-on-the-ground” feel. We’re not talking Saving Private Ryan or Platoon, but you definitely sense the intensity of the struggle more here than in other Star Wars installments. It’s all about sacrifice and sometimes it’s not very pretty.
On the other hand, the language is not lathered with profanity and there are no questionable scenes of promiscuity. There are no gold-plated bikinis in this episode either (making this mother of two teenage boys very happy).
This ended up being a very interesting topic to discuss for our family. During our conversation on the way home, though we loved the film, we all initially felt that the character development fell somewhat flat. There was very little depth and barely any background to the multiple characters that we saw onscreen. One of our sons, during his research, said that this was a common complaint of many who had opportunity to preview the film, but that there also seemed to be a purpose in doing this. This movie was created to act as a bridge between one trilogy and another, to explain the gap and reason to search for and cling to hope. There was no reason to create a character, or cast of characters, that one would anticipate to see in the next movie ~ a movie that had already been made decades prior. In fact, there is very little crossover in the cast list – outside of Darth Vader, a cameo of our two favorite droids and a few in the Rebellion (and a very special cameo at the end that may leave you in tears considering recent events). The purpose of the film is again to help us gain a better understanding of the backstory leading into Episode IV. After our family discussion, I came to appreciate the fact that this crew came together for one cause and one cause only and that there was nothing about them to which we could genuinely attach or long to see again.
In saying this, yes, we do see some kind of a backstory given on Jyn, the female protagonist brilliantly played by Felicity Jones. The movie shares pieces of her childhood, flashed across the screen so that we know where she grew up, the changes that ensued and why, as well as an obvious connection she had, lost and regains with her father, Galen Erso, played by Mads Mikkelson. You know from where her strength derives. You understand her fight, her resilience and the will she has to complete the task at hand. Once again, as George Lucas did with Princess Leia, we have another strong female lead that acts as a tremendous role model for young girls today.
Outside of Jyn, however, we see nothing but one-dimensional characters coming together to sabotage the creation of the greatest weapon of mass destruction ever designed, the Death Star. A Rebel pilot, a defected Imperial pilot, a sarcastic and witty Imperial droid reprogramed for the Rebellion, a blind monk, a pragmatic soldier, a Rebellion extremist and a handful of unnamed Rebels willing to do whatever it takes to stop the Empire’s terrorist plans ~ all created to sacrifice for the greater good. I’m okay with that…really. It worked.
What do I mean by “Sacrifice for Hope”
As mentioned above, it seems like there was purpose in creating characters that were somewhat elusive and difficult to define. This movie is wrought with causalities and there is sparing of little for the cause. Each one who gives his or her life knows it is for the sake of the greater good and the hope of salvation from the Empire. From the smallest sacrifice to the greatest, Rogue One epitomizes what the cost of freedom may look like and how hope can energize the masses.
Would I recommend this movie?
Absolutely!! I would perhaps refrain from bringing those who may have sensitivities towards violence, loud noises or loss, but I also cannot recommend this film any more to those who know and have followed the Star Wars story-line from beginning to…well, we don’t see an end in sight at the moment (and that’s a good thing).
The intent of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is clear. It is precise. It is well understood and well carried out. It is what sacrifice looks like when hope exists. Our family left the theater knowing more about Episode IV then we did when we watched that particular installment years ago. The script for Rogue One was brilliantly written, the plot well thought out, the cast perfectly selected and the message delivered exquisitely. It was well worth the wait and will be watched over and over again by our family with the same excitement each time.
“Rebellions are built on hope”
and we now know where that hope began and what it cost.
~ T.M. Brown
Please be sure to check out other reviews here on Footprints, including:
- Finally…The Episode VII Review: For What It’s Worth
- Everybody Needs An Elliot: A Review of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon (Spoiler Alert)
- My Zoo’s Review: Zootopis, Hit or Miss?