Rogue One – When gifted scientist Galen Erso is forcibly taken from his home to work for the evil Imperial Empire, his young daughter, Jyn, goes into hiding and is taken in by family ally and Rebel leader, Saw Gerrera. Years later, Jyn is rescued from The Empire by Rebel forces and reluctantly thrown into a plot to stop The Empire from unleashing an enormous weapon which is said to be able to destroy whole planets. Discovering that a weakness has been designed into the weapon but with few people believing her with no evidence, Jyn and a handful of loyal Rebels must do all they can to stop the Empire, by any means necessary.
Rogue One (2016) – Director: Gareth Edwards
Running Length: 135 mins
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen
Genre: Science Fiction
‘ROGUE ONE’ REVIEW
Star Wars: Rogue One marks the first of an ‘Anthology’ of three planned stand alone films operating outside the main narrative of the ‘saga’ (i.e the ‘Skywalker’ family though the generations). This movie takes place just before the events of ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’ and tells the tale of the cost undertaken to obtain the Death Star plans that ultimately lead to its destruction in the original movie.
Free from the shackles of the prime saga, Rogue One takes the opportunity to indulge in some experimentation. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), daughter to Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen: designer of the Death Star) is left alone as a child and has to grow up hard. Her struggle to find a place becomes entwined with the dark side of the Rebel Alliance’s intelligence gathering where double-crossing and morally dubious actions are necessary to survive. A motley cast of characters gather, including the embittered Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), blind monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and particularly sarcastic droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Whilst we never really get under the surface with these characters, they are gifted with enough screen time and charmed performances from a fully engaged cast to ensure that we warm to them.
Jyn carries the emotional core of the Rogue One well. She is at turns, fierce, belligerent but vulnerable. Her relationship of mutual suspicion with Cassian provides an engaging arc and come Act 3 we were on the edge of our seats as matters come to a head. In fact, whilst Acts 1 is content to planet hop and Act 2 solidifies the plot, the whole of Act 3 is a sumptuous riot of multi-faceted ground action entwined with balletic space dogfights. Every character has a vital role to play, making their efforts and sacrifices hit home. Sustained edge-of-the-seat-to-the-point-of-falling-off action knocks the audience left and right until the climax smacks right between the eyes.
Much like The Force Awakens, Rogue One feels much more like a Star Wars movie than the prequels ever did. Bags of fun, thrilling action, rich (but not CGI infested) worlds and alien races and a few sly fan service nods to the original movies all mixed up with a darker ‘Empire Strikes Back’ tone result in a movie that takes the same gung-ho approach of the original trilogy and adds in dazzling modern action and cinematography. The plot may have gone rogue from cannon, but Rogue One can sit proudly amongst its history and contemporaries.
IS ‘ROGUE ONE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
Towards the beginning of the movie, a man meets someone who appears to be a friend (or at least an ally). When approached by numerous attackers, the man kills the other without hesitation. This coldness is part of the character’s motivation but it is quite shocking due to this scene being so early in the movie.
A prisoner who has tried to help the people he has been captured by is put into a pit with a large, slimy creature. It slowly slithers towards him and another character nearby says that one of the side effects of being mauled by it is that ‘one tends to lose one’s mind’. When the creature gets close enough, its tentacles reach out and attach to the man’s head, he whimpers but the scene cuts before anything more graphic is seen.
There are vast numbers of deaths on both sides throughout the movie. Storm Troopers – while being faceless due to their masks and full body armour – are heard to cry out, scream, groan and whimper when being shot and killed. One Storm Trooper is shot in the head at point-blank range and others are blown up, their bodies being thrown several feet in the air.
A character is mortally wounded and someone who cares deeply for them holds them as they die. Before this happens, they tell them how they feel and their loved one sobs as they die. This is a very tragic death and could be quite upsetting for children.
Several innocent people are murdered in order to punish a character. These characters have not been previously introduced to the story but as they are afraid and have done nothing wrong, the unjust and cruel nature of their deaths could be distressing. Whilst these deaths are not hard-hitting they are immediately followed by an emotional death with much left unsaid and which leaves one character overcome with grief. This continues for around 2 – 3 minutes after the death and on into the next scene, where the emotion turns to anger.
The final Act of Rogue One is very exciting with lots of cuts between ground troops, the main cast, and space battle dogfights. During this time many incidental characters are introduced only to be killed and the death count is high amongst both scenes. Most deaths are over quickly but one involves a protracted shoot out where one character is defending others. Eventually the defending character is overwhelmed and killed, which the other characters mourn (although the action is such that events swiftly continue, regardless).
Established characters continue to be killed and the climax of the film is one filled with sacrifice and succumbing to the inevitable. A short battle scene takes place after these where several rebel Alliance characters (none of whom have been established) are stuck and unable to flee their attacker who mercilessly kills them all. These deaths are all quick although the last one involves brief impalement. This is not seen directly, but moment is shown from the back with a piece of scenery in the way. Throughout, the rebels scream and shout.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
VERDICT – IS ‘ROGUE ONE’ FOR KIDS?
Rogue One manages to skilfully toe that line between fun and pathos. There is plenty to like for both adults and children alike and all the usual beats are hit. The third Act is pretty relentless though so if your child is sensitive to character death on-screen then we would advice caution due to the sustained level of this and we would advice that this movie is suitable for children aged 8 and up.
- Violence: 2/5 (whilst there are many deaths there is little blood and no gore of enjoyment of inflicting violence, only coldness)
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (many sympathetic characters are killed and some have emotional reactions)
- Fear Factor: 1/5 (the large monster used to tell the truth is given full centre screen when it approaches and the character it is going to be used on is very afraid)
- Sexual Content: 0/5
- Bad Language: 0/5
- Dialogue: 1/5 (many threats but mostly mild ones in terms of tone, one character says ‘I have so much to tell you’ before dying)
- Other Notes: Deals with themes of rebellion, espionage, family, sacrifice, moral grey areas, war, totalitarian regimes and fighting for the greater good.
Words by Laura Record and Michael Record