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Review: Rogue One

Ros Hull

It’s Star Wars, but not how we know it. So does Rogue One function without lightsabers? Skywalkers? The Jedi?

All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success. IMDb

At the end of a year where the world has lost so much, we lost one more treasure. General, princess, ambassador, writer and sassy broad Carrie Fisher is gone.

She was my first nerd girl crush, she will always be an example of how you can come back to the light side from the dark and she was the general I would have followed. So seeing Rogue One yesterday, just hours after the news broke, was one of the most melancholy things I’ve ever done.

However, I think our favourite feminist sci-fi icon would approve on several counts: it is the first Star Wars film where a woman gets top billing, it shows the light side fighting through the dark … and the final shot of the film. I can’t say what it is but for those who’ve already seen it – did you sob? I did.

This film has all the pedigree of the Star Wars universe, with fantastic production values, meaty storytelling, thrilling battles and the sincerity of performance that is the signature of this ‘brand’. It has all the familiarity hard core fans could want – C3PO and R2D2 make a cameo and there are references by the bucketload to the original films, the canon of this universe and the story that will happen just days after the events of this one (Episode IV: A New Hope, FYI). Some of the original costumes were even brought out of storage to be used in this film. And some of the characters from Episode IV are in the film, thanks to the magic of movies.

So it has form – but does it function without lightsabers? Skywalkers? The Jedi?

Yes. It is a great story and the most adult of the franchise (not counting those horrendous scenes by the lava in Episode III, which I choose to expunge from my memory). It is based on a statement by one of the leaders of the Alliance, Mon Mothma, in Episode IV. As the plans for the Death Star are shown to the council, she notes that many good rebels died to bring this information to the Alliance. So if we know that, we know there is going to be no imperial parade for the fighters in Rogue One. Whilst this makes the film more sombre than others, it also makes their mission great edge of the seat entertainment.

And answers a question that has bothered fans for 40 years – if the Death Star is so high tech and impenetrable, how come one well placed explosion could destroy it?

Go see Rogue One to find out. See Felicity Jones earn her place in the pantheon of Star Wars heroes. Empathise with a wonderful bunch of rebels – my favourites were Donnie Yen and Diego Luna but Ben Mendelsohn gives us a memorable bad guy too. I loved Alan Tudyk and the robot with attitude too and caught my breath at a line Jimmy Smits delivers as Leia’s adopted dad, Bail Organa.

Even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars film before – what is wrong with you? – you will still enjoy a great space opera and a couple of hours escape from the real and daunting world beyond the cinema.

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Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author