Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dec 26, 2016

The Star Wars vibe with some of the original's light heart.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Image courtesy of IMDb.

Grade: B

Director: Gareth Edwards (Godzilla)

Screenplay: Chris Weitz (Antz), Tony Gilroy (The Bourne Legacy)

Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 133 min.

by John DeSando

“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!” Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones)

Rebellion and hope. So goes the theme of the entertaining first Star Wars anthology story (not about Luke Skywalker and his immediate family), Rogue One. Jyn and Cassian (Diego Luna) are the swashbuckling leads, determined to lead a rebellion against The Empire. Hey, it's before the 1977 depiction, so all you need to  grab is the fighting-mad vibe and wait for the grand entrance of Darth Vader and the impressive redo of the deceased Peter Cushing.

Is it as good as the original? No. Is it better than most of the sequels/prequels?Yes.

Of the many rocket-ship fights, many are too many.  Although it lacks the vibrant mischief and jokey immaturity of the original, it has the sacrifice and determination against domination down pat.

Like Princess Leia, Jyn carries the feminist torch with a grace and petulance that makes you care. Cassian less so as he makes sure the voyages are successful and Jyn reconciles with her dad, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), whose employment by the bad guys makes him suspect.

The adventure serves, also, to answer nagging geek questions such as why the Death Star could so easily be breached. No further details from me because this is a fantasy adventure that thrives on surprises.

Sufficed to say, Rogue is a story of good people fighting the good fight against the powerful forces of evil that seek to trod down the already downtrodden.  The Empire could just  as easily be the Syrian government, an African repressive nation, Russia, North Korea, or any despotic leader who fools his people to believe he really cares about them.

The common denominator is the rebels, who always seem poor in belongings and arms, but whose will is selflessly focused on freedom with the accompanying ultimate sacrifice frequently exacted.  Star Wars hit the right notes in the 20th  century at a time when Viet Nam had spent our outrage so that anger was in danger of being dissipated by a surfeit of questionable wars.

While Rogue suffers from lack of the lighthearted carelessness of  Harrison Ford and the charming dorkiness of Carrie Fisher,  leave  it to this franchise to keep us focused on the sacrifices we must make and the hope we must nurture to be a society of equals.

“Save the Rebellion! Save the dream!” Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker)

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at