theater thursday: rogue one is classic star wars

Maratheater thursday

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Forget the rumors of turmoil, the reshoots, and especially the worry about ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY failing to live up to expectations. ROGUE ONE is one of the best entries in the STAR WARS franchise.

Unless you’ve warped in from another dimension and don’t know, ROGUE ONE stars Felicity Jones (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING) as the leader of a rag-tag group of rebels who try to steal the plans for the Death Star, which kicks off the very first STAR WARS film.

It may be considered a sort of spin-off, but ROGUE ONE is very much a prequel to A NEW HOPE. Anyone familiar with HOPE knows what happens with the plans to the Death Star, pretty much giving away the ending of ROGUE ONE. But director Gareth Edwards and co-writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy were smart. They placed a lot of emphasis on characters, so with the ending already common knowledge, ROGUE ONE raises more the question: Who will survive?

Yes, ROGUE ONE had a bumpy road to release. So what if Edwards was replaced in reshoots by Gilroy? It doesn’t matter. The final product is classic STAR WARS. Everything audiences loved about the original trilogy – especially A NEW HOPE – is present in ROGUE ONE. The optimism, great characters, parental issues, all of it. That includes Darth Vader being . . . Darth Vader. Not to spoil anything, but Vader is not a glorified cameo in ROGUE ONE, appearing only for the sake of fan service. After RETURN OF THE JEDI and the prequels, it’s a welcome relief to see Vader in classic form.

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On top of that, ROGUE ONE is chock-full of Easter eggs for STAR WARS fans. Anyone with a decent knowledge of the films will pick up on the cameos, shots, and references strewn throughout the film. Again, these aren’t – well, most of them – there for fan service. They seamlessly tie ROGUE ONE into A NEW HOPE, even correcting the biggest plot issue with that film.

Is ROGUE ONE perfect? No. All of the red and green blaster lines flying across the screen gets a little old after a while, and there’s yet again a climactic dog fight. The action is great, but after seven STAR WARS films, the freshness is starting to wear off a bit.

With Lucasfilm owner Disney hoping to make the non-episode STAR WARS films the franchise’s focus in the future, if they all turn out like ROGUE ONE, audiences will be enjoying STAR WARS for a long, long time.