“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” is every bit as good as the 7th installment of the Star Wars saga “The Force Awakens”. This is the first film set in the Star Wars universe that offers a deeper look at the story behind the story of the main saga.
Specifically, we are given a rousing prequel to George Lucas’ 1977 original film “Episode IV – A New Hope.” (Which should be watched as soon as you get home from the theatre!)
The plot of “Rogue One” is driven by the fact that the evil Empire — served, most prominently, by Grand Moff Tarkin (a CGI of the late Peter Cushing) and Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) — is on the verge of deploying the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, the Death Star.
The Death Star has the potential to wipe out entire planets and thus doom the efforts of the Rebel Alliance to resist subjugation by the Empire.
The movie’s main character, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is drawn to the center stage because she is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), the brilliant scientist who developed the technology behind the Death Star. What we know that the Star Wars universe does not is that he designed it under duress while being held captive. Jyn has reason to believe that the armament has been sabotaged by her father.
To prove this, she enlists the help of Rebel Alliance officer Capt. Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his mechanical sidekick, K-2SO (Alan Tidy). Kato is an amusingly straight-talking android, who provides most of the movie’s comic relief.
Director Gareth Edwards has crafted an exciting epic while keeping the violence inherent in his story of armed conflict virtually bloodless. Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy have written a script that celebrates altruism in the midst of the Rebellion. They also briefly tackle the morality of mindlessly obeying military orders.
“Rogue One” is old-fashioned entertainment in the best sense! We are treated to a showdown between spunky goodness and hisssble villainy with a bit of innocent romance thrown in to boot!
This is a film for the whole family. Don’t miss it.
Addendum: The Force Of Star Wars
George Lucas is a fan of the writings of mythology scholar Joseph Campbell so not surprisingly ideas from world mythology are woven through the series. Episode IV itself is basically a reproduction of the archtypal story in Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Most of the mythic symbols Lucas weaves into the films may pass completely unnoticed except one: The Force.
According to the films, “the Force” is an energy field generated by all living beings that “binds the galaxy together.” For some gifted individuals, the Force provides both power and guidance.
The Force apparently is morally polarized, with a “light side” and a “dark side.” The light side (associated with good, peace, and self-defense) is the power of the Jedi, and the dark side (associated with evil, anger, and aggression) is the power of their enemies, the Sith.
What does George Lucas mean by The Force? In interviews he has explained that the Force is a symbol for all that is unseen in the universe. The light side is essentially a symbol for God — the unseen Power of good — while the dark side is a symbol for the forces of evil.
According to Lucas, the Jedi exhortation to “Use the Force” essentially means “Make a leap of faith” (or “Trust God”). The phrase “May the Force be with you,” of course, is clearly evocative of “May God be with you.”
Lucas sees the Force (or the light side of the Force) then as only symbolic of God, not a direct allegory. Personally I see too many non-theistic elements to make the connection between God and the Force.
I think the force bears a closer resemblance to a New-Age mystical energy field balanced between good and evil, similar to the yin-yang balance of Taoism than to God. (I do know The Force is fictional, but our fictional constructs are rooted in our perception of reality.)
I love the Star Wars universe and when I see any of the movies I view “the Force” in essentially the same way I do the fantasy magic in The Wizard of Oz and similar stories. Let your children enjoy this fantasy universe and if they ask you if The Force is another name for God be prepared to give a reasonable “no” answer.