While its whole purpose is to tread water, I was ready to do cartwheels in the aisle by the end of this latest spin-off
There has never been a film franchise like Star Wars so it stands to reason theres never been a film like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It is not, if were being honest, a real movie. It is a fan exercise. Its whole purpose is to tread water in a larger, more familiar pool.
Most of the moments that crackle are direct touchpoints with something we recognize. The sequences that are Rogue One qua Rogue One are occasionally intriguing, but, predominantly, merely adequate. And unlike in last years Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there is a clear and recognizable section for dashing out if that extra large Diet Pepsi has gone rogue in your bladder. This is a movie made for fans.
Luckily, I am a fan! As such, there comes a point at which I shrug and stop caring if others are bored. (Its like bringing a friend who only knows the hits to see a band you love, and they decide this is the show where theyll bust out their early, complex album cuts. At some point you stop being a tour guide and cheer for yourself.) There are a few stylistic tics to mark this as a different entry, like no opening yellow exposition crawl and, for the first time, white text on the screen detailing the name of each new visited planet, but thats a strange head fake for a movie that greatly succeeds in reproducing the aesthetic of the original 1977 Star Wars.
By the final shots of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story I was ready to do cartwheels in the aisle if I had the physical fitness to accomplish such a task. If you are the type of person who knows who Yak Face is, here are the moments in this newest entry that will bring you joy.
THIS SECTION IS LIKE THE ANOAT ASTEROID BELT OF SPOILERS. DO NOT GO RUSHING IN LIKE LUKE TO BESPIN. HE ENDED UP LOSING HIS HAND THAT WAY!
Its not two minutes into Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (yes, my intention is to use the full name every time I mention this movie) that we see some blue bantha milk. Young Jyn Erso is living on a farm with her parents on the grey, wet planet of Lahmu that still has moisture vaporators for some reason. (Maybe they are moisture de-vaporators?) When trouble comes our heroine races to safe keeping with Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker), the first case of a character from the Clone Wars animated series making its way into the film canon.
There are other familiar faces, some uglier than others. When adult Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her sidekick Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) start their adventures on the vaguely Middle Eastern-looking planet Jedha (not Jeddah) they bump into Dr Cornelius Evazan (the youll be dead! guy with the squished-up nose from 1977s Star Wars) and his Aqualish chum Ponda Baba who will eventually lose an arm to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley Cantina. They are jerks in this movie, too.
Jyn and Cassian are there at the behest of the Rebel Alliance, led in part by Mon Mothma, a character introduced in Episode VI (1983) but also seen in deleted scenes from Episode III (2005). This time the actress that played the younger Mothma (Genevieve OReilly) is now a little older, but still younger than when we first met her. Just go with it.