NOTE: There are NO spoilers for the movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Awaiting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to hit theaters was a very different experience than waiting for Star Wars: A Force Awakens. The latter was the first Star Wars film to hit theaters in ages and I was slightly on edge as to whether or not it would be any good. If I didn’t like the characters that the movie introduced TOO BAD because we were going to be stuck with them for the rest of the trilogy. Thankfully, Rey and Finn were awesome characters and I can’t wait to see them in the next films.
I didn’t feel that kind of stress for Rogue One. I mean, I was hoping that it would be good. I knew there was a lot riding on it being good and doing well in the box office because this was the first standalone Star Wars movie and its success (or lack thereof) could pave the way for our expectations for other standalone films. But whatever, it’s just a movie. Life would go on if it was lame, especially since chances were high that we’d never even see any of these characters again.
Even going to see Rogue One didn’t have the same fanfare attached to it in the way that A Force Awakens did. There was no long email thread to coordinate screenings with friends, no taking the day off from work and making sure we got there early enough to stand in line to get good seats, no leaving the house even earlier for the donut run from Donut Savant in Oakland to make sure we all had some sustenance while standing in line.
This time around, I went with my sister and mom. I had bought tickets with reserved seats so we didn’t have to show up too much in advance. The seats themselves were the kind that recline and make you spoiled on the cinema watching experience. There was nothing to it.
Last year, I ended up liking The Force Awakens. I’m sure so many people breathed a sigh of relief when that movie ended, confident in the direction the next set of trilogies was going down.
With Rogue One, I figured it would be good enough but I don’t know these characters. And it’s about stealing plans for the Death Star. Considering that in Episode IV: A New Hope (aka just “Star Wars”), the rebels have the plans, we even already know how this movie ends.
I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as I did. I was completely enthralled and for the last half hour, I was on the edge of my seat* and my heart was in my throat. And the way it ended… All I’ll say is that it puts a lot in perspective (is that vague enough?).
Folks, I may even have liked this better than A Force Awakens.
The cast was great and I got quite emotionally attached to the characters. I bought it all, their motives, everything about them. There was also a robot I loved**. During a speech that Felicity Jones’s character, Jyn, gave to the rebellion, I even got chills.
By the way, it was very cool to to see such a diverse cast. Otherwise it’s always like people’s minds can wrap around aliens of all shapes and sizes but God forbid there be an Asian in space!
To be honest, I have no idea what it would be like to watch this coming in cold on Star Wars but I would like to think this works as a standalone movie. I do know this though – that if you know anything about Star Wars, then this will be an incredible movie experience.
Further Listening: For a full on spoiler-filled discussion, listen to The MovieFilm Podcast’s episode on Rogue One.
*Figuratively speaking. I was sitting in one of those reclining theater seats after all.
**Was it a betrayal to love a robot in a Star Wars movie that wasn’t C-3PO or R2-D2? I don’t know, my friends, I don’t know.