When Rogue One came out, it made a huge splash with the critics and audiences. It opened with an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, earning a certified fresh rating. It stayed at number one at the box office for two weeks, reaping in huge amounts of money. Now that’s it’s been out awhile and the hype is gone, it is easier to determine Rogue One’s place in the canon.
Is it on par with the Original Trilogy or is it as crummy as the prequel movies? I think it’s safe to say that the latter is certainly not true. Rogue One has flaws and we’ve discussed them before, but none of them interrupt the enjoyment of the movie like say, Jar-Jar Binks or the bad “romantic” dialogue does. And Rogue One has moments that make it soar and reach the lofty heights the Original Trilogy.
Here are ten reasons Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie:
The cast is fantastic
The script doesn’t tell us much about why the character go on a suicide mission to steal the Death Star plans. But the actors leading and supporting carry the movie and their charisma leads us to root for them. Felicity Jones is strong, yet vulnerable as Jyn Erso. Diego Luna is utterly compelling as Captain Cassian Andor. Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen have great chemistry as Chirrut and Baze. Riz Ahmed was wonderful as Bodhi, the pilot. And of course, Alan Tudyk is hilarious as always as K-2SO. The actors playing the villains are no slouch either. We talked about how thrilled we were to see Vader come back. And Ben Mendelsohn was wonderfully diabolical as Director Krennic. Everyone gels together and keeps the audience invested in what happens to these characters, Empire and Rebellion alike.
Rogue One has the best use of Vader
One of the selling points of Rogue One was the reappearance of Darth Vader. The movie delivered on its promise to show us, but also used him extremely well. His lava castle on Mustafar looks amazing and fits with Vader’s aesthetic. He puts Director Krennic in his place, reminding the audience that no matter how many new villains Lucasfilm creates, Vader is still the most powerful. He cuts down Rebels with brutal efficiency with his lightsaber in a terrifying yet thrilling scene near the end of the movie, which many consider the best Vader scene of all time. This isn’t the whiny Jedi we saw in the prequels. Rather, he is the badass Lord of the Sith that we remember from the original trilogy. The movie uses just enough of Darth Vader to satisfy audiences, but doesn’t over use him so that he overwhelms the rest of the film. It was great to see Vader in action again, and reminds us why we loved seeing him onscreen in the Original Trilogy.
The third act is killer
Rogue One has the best third act of any Star Wars movie, only being matched by The Empire Strikes Back. The action is tight, tense and the audience is completely hooked into what is happening on screen. Every character is given something to do, even if that something is just pushing a button. The battles both in space and on the planet surface look amazing and use CGI to great effect. Plot threads such as Jyn’s nickname of “Stardust” that were set up earlier in the film pay off perfectly. As each character goes down, we feel that loss like a punch to the gut. But we don’t feel like their deaths were pointless. Rather than ending with the deaths of the characters, we see the results of their sacrifice and determination as the Death Star pass from hand to hand until they end up where they were at the beginning of A New Hope, in the hands of Princess Leia. The ending is tragic, but ultimately hopeful, a tricky balance to pull off.
The movie fixes plot holes
One of the biggest complaints about the Original Trilogy is that the Death Star weakness is a little too convenient. Why would anyone in their right mind make such a huge design flaw in such an expensive death weapon? Rogue One answers that question. Galan Erso, designer of the Death Star, was forced to build the planet killer. So he put in a flaw that some lucky hotshot in the Rebellion could later exploit This was his revenge for the Empire killing his wife, separating him from his daughter and forcing him to have a hand in the killing of millions. Hopefully, supplemental novels and comics will explore Galan’s time with the Empire and show us how he managed to conceal his intentions and secret sabotage of the Death Star. From the bare details the movie gave us, it sounds like a fascinating story for Lucasfilm to follow up on.
The movie opens up new avenues for the Expanded Universe
Galan Erso isn’t the only character the new Expanded Universe could explore. It would be great to know what Bodhi's backstory was. Or to read about the adventures Baze and Chirrut had before Jyn and Cassian showed up. They’re the Guardians of the Whills, after all. Some new Expanded Universe content could tell us what the Whills are and why they need guarding. Jyn and Cassian would also make great subjects for EU novels and comics. What was Jyn doing before the film and why did she commit crimes against the Empire? What kind of missions did Cassian run for the Rebellion and what kinds of terrible things did he do in the name of galactic freedom? Rogue One provides a treasure trove of supplemental threads for the new Expanded Universe could pick up on. Let’s hope that Lucasfilm takes advantage of them.
There's no romance
To say that the quality of Star Wars romances vary is an understatement. On the one hand, there’s Han and Leia’s sizzling romance that builds through the Original Trilogy. On the other, there’s Anakin being awkward and creepy around Padme, but her still finding him desirable enough to marry. But unlike a lot of mainstream Hollywood films, Rogue One does not bother with the romance. They’ve got Death Star plans to steal! There’s no time for epic romances, they’re in a middle of a life and death situation! They could have forced one in like The Hobbit Trilogy does or set up a boring love triangle like in the Hunger Games movies. But it was for the best that the filmmakers keep the focus on the action. Rogue One had a lot of subplots to juggle. A romance subplot would have overburdened the film or made it way too long to watch.
Rogue One explores the consequences of war
Yes, the series is called Star Wars and they are about a huge, galaxy-spanning conflicts. But the Prequels and the Original Trilogy fail to really explore the consequences of the wars. Every major character lives (or if they do die, they come back as a Force ghost), huge losses are just skimmed over, the Rebellion never, ever does anything morally grey to win liberation from the Empire. Rogue One does not play by those rules. Main characters drop like flies. The losses Jyn Erso suffers scar her for the rest of the film. One of the reasons Chirrut’s death hits so hard is that we know that his best friend will have to live with that loss. Captain Andor straight up murders a contact because that contact would hinder his escape. All of this stands in contrast to the squeaky-clean presentation of conflict the previous Star Wars films present us with.
The movie provides a new perspective on the Star Wars universe
All the cartoons and movies in the Star Wars canon have been rather Jedi-centric. You can hardly blame the creators for that though. Who wouldn’t want to write about the Jedi, the guardians of peace and justice for over a thousand generations? But it’s nice to have a new perspective on the universe. The heroes of Rogue One can’t Jedi mind trick their way through sticky situations or call out for help through the Force. Instead, they have to rely on their wits, their ability to bluff and clever disguises. The film also does a wonderful job of showing us the Star Wars universe without the Jedi present. Chirrut is seen as a crazy dreamer, even by his best friend for believing in The Force. The Empire acts unchallenged now that their greatest enemy has been stamped out. The will of the Force alone cannot save our heroes, even when things are at their most dire.
Rogue One perfectly recreates the feel of the old movies
The filmmakers could have created new looks for the Empire and the Rebellion in Rogue One. They could have updated the looks to be more modern and fit with the aesthetic they established in The Force Awakens. Fortunately, they decided not to do that. Instead the filmmakers went through painstaking efforts to recreate the look of A New Hope and their hard work paid off. The Rebel Base on Yavin IV looks like it was filmed back in the seventies. The costumes, hairstyles, and background details all look like they could have come from George Lucas’ head. Some of the film actually was from the seventies! The filmmakers found unused footage of Blue and Gold Leader and digitally alter to be included in Rogue One. All of this work added to the cohesiveness of Rogue One within the Star Wars universe. We believed that what was playing out onscreen could have happened somewhere deep in space. And it didn’t just happen anywhere, but in our favorite far away galaxy.
You won’t look at the Original Trilogy the same way again
Whether you loved the film, hated it or felt ambivalent towards it, the film has changed the way you look at the the Original Trilogy, especially A New Hope. Rogue One showed how everything in A New Hope is part of a larger chain of events. The rebels are no longer the unambiguous good guys, but people who have fought for nineteen years and are hardened by war. When Vader confronts Leia about being a member of the Rebel Alliance, her lie will come across as especially egregious. We saw in Rogue One that she was seconds away from being caught by Vader and the Empire. When Luke takes his shot at the Death Star, you know the weakness was created on purpose so that someone like Luke could unmake the Empire’s death machine. And of course, we remember that without the deaths and sacrifices of Rogue One’s cast, nothing in A New Hope would have happened. Rogue One added context to A New Hope which lets the latter film stand stronger.
What did you think of Rogue One? Is it your favorite Star Wars movie? Leave us a comment below!