In “Rogue One”, prequel to the original Star Wars film released in 1977, the mighty walking tanks of the Empire seem vaguely like Godzilla trampling through Tokyo. Chalk that up to Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters (2010) and the 2014 release of—Godzilla. But while Godzilla was a truly awful movie—in fact a truly awful series—Rogue One sparkles.
There is the usual jousting among the critics over the perennial question of what does it all mean, with some arguing that this is the first adult Star Wars movie in the series. There is something to that claim. This is more than just a shoot-em-up, although there is plenty of that. In this film some of the good guys get shot, which is relatively rare in the just-for–kids genre.
The movie calls to mind the Peloponnesian Wars with the Empire (Sparta) fighting to put down the Rebellion (Athens). The Empire is a military state. The Empire has a bit of a glass ceiling problem though; women appear to be almost totally absent from their midst. Needless to say the Empire maintains its rule with an iron hand of terror; its soldiers follow orders unblinkingly, and of course there is a brutal hierarchy of power with the Emperor at its pinnacle and Darth Vador as first henchman. Kind of like the IRS.
The Rebellion on the other hand is idealistic. It runs on hope, as we are reminded a couple of times. Its members are there for “The Cause”. The Rebellion, as you might expect, is kind of fractious. The members have their own minds. There is a Senate, so the Rebellion is democratic. And it has a President, not an Emperor. The President, like the eventual leader of the Rebellion (Felicity Jones), is a woman so they seem to have solved that glass ceiling problem that the Empire’s bureaucrats seem so unconcerned about. And the Rebellion has the best music.
One problem the Rebellion hasn’t solved is the project the Empire is so busy working on: the Death Star. If the Empire can demonstrate its power with the Death Star, the Rebellion will fall apart and all the inhabitants of the Galaxy will be forced to live under the thumb of the Empire.
But the Rebellion does have members who have The Force. And The Force is not to be taken lightly. It allows a blind Jedi to shoot down Empire fighter jets with a Bow and Arrow, not to mention fighting off machine gun toting Empire soldiers with little more than a walking stick and some Kung-Foo moves thrown in for good measure. Who says this movie is not aimed at adults?
All in all, Rogue One is very entertaining, and well worth seeing. Especially in 3D in an IMAX Theatre.