"Hope Inspires Sacrifice and Redemption"
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is a prequel that takes place right before the events of the very first STAR WARS movie, called A NEW HOPE. True to form, hope is the new movie’s main theme.
The Imperial Empire is quickly taking power, but with the Rebel Alliance growing in numbers, the Empire seeks to create the ultimate weapon to defeat anyone who stands in its way. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) has been on the run almost her entire life. When she was young, her father Galen was taken away after Imperial henchmen killed her mother, to force Galen to continue building the super weapon, called the Death Star. Many years later, the weapon is nearing completion. Galen convinces an Imperial pilot named Bodhi to defect and gives him a message to deliver to his daughter and the Rebel Alliance.
Meanwhile, the Rebels find Jyn, who’s been hiding under an alias. They try to enlist her in their plans to get the message from the pilot, who’s been captured by an old rebel who doesn’t trust the Alliance but who cared for Jyn while she grew up. At first, Jyn wants nothing to do with the rebellion, but she eventually agrees to go with an Intelligence officer, Capt. Cassian Andor, and his droid K-25O, to get the pilot who has her father’s message.
They reach the pilot on the planet Jedha, and make some friends along the way, including Baze, an assassin, and Chirrut, a highly skilled and blind warrior who greatly admires the Jedi and the ways of “the Force.” In the message, which turns out to be a hologram of her father, Galen reveals he’s secretly created a weak spot in the Death Star that could destroy it.
Jyn, Capt. Andor, K2, and their new friends go to the planet where the Empire is holding Jyn’s father. However, what Jyn doesn’t know is that Andor has been ordered to assassinate her father to stop him from completing work on the Death Star.
ROGUE ONE is a thrilling, thoroughly engaging movie that’s skillfully executed. Felicity Jones isn’t quite as captivating as Daisy Ridley in THE FORCE AWAKENS, but Jyn’s journey of finding a meaningful purpose and reuniting with her father is emotionally powerful. The movie is aided by some truly despicable villains, including an appearance from Darth Vadar. The characters that shine the strongest, however, is the blind warrior Chirrut and the hilariously honest droid K-2SO, who’s voiced by Alan Tudyk. What turns the movie from being good to great, are the scenes with Jyn’s father and the final moments leading up to where A NEW HOPE begins.
Director Gareth Edwards, who previously helmed the new GODZILLA reboot and the striking B movie MONSTERS, adds a grittier, less polished tone that’s more in the vein of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. This works well for the new story. Director J.J. Abrams had to tackle the difficult challenge of paying homage to the original STAR WARS with THE FORCE AWAKENS, but also reinvigorate the series. In contrast to this, ROGUE ONE benefits by being given room to tell a one-off story with wholly original characters. Meanwhile, Composer Michael Giacchino delivers an impressive score that judiciously uses some of John Williams’ great themes from earlier STAR WARS movies. In the end, ROGUE ONE is an exciting movie with a massive, epic scope and a thoroughly engaging, entertaining story with appealing characters.
However, like previous STAR WARS movies, ROGUE ONE contains some New Age, pagan elements, even though the movie is primarily about the rebels and features no Jedi’s, so there’s less inclusion of the Eastern monism or moral dualism that plagues the other movies. That said, the character of Chirrut, the blind warrior, has a fascination with the Force. During the battles, Chirrut repeats, or even prays, phrases like “the Force is with me, the Force is in me” and “I am one with the Force, and the Force is one with me.” Also, in one scene, Jyn’s mother tells her child to “trust” the force, and at one point her silent “prayer” seems to save their lives. Strangely, at another point, the Force is described as having a “will.” Of course, to have a will implies a personal consciousness, or Personal God, not an impersonal “force,” as in Eastern monism. For Christians, however, the truth is that there isn’t a “force” that can be used for good or evil. Instead, there is simply the Good, which is our Father in Heaven, God, whose perfect will for us is that we have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The positive moral aspects of ROGUE ONE include a desire for redemption and a need to make a difference in stopping the totalitarian evils of the Imperial Empire. The movie stresses doing the right thing, although some of the rebel soldiers who fight with Jyn, including Capt. Andor, are flawed soldiers who have done some terrible things for the Rebel Alliance. Eventually, however, Andor and the others learn to do the right thing. Ultimately, the story in ROGUE ONE is about sacrifice and hope. The sacrifice of many eventually wins the day and gives hope to the Rebel Alliance that the Empire can be defeated. Also, it is hope that inspires the heroic characters to offer their lives for the sake of a greater cause.
In addition to the references to the Force, ROGUE ONE contains many intense battle scenes, with many people and stormtroopers getting shot by blasters, or killed in explosions. There’s also some hand-to-hand and martial arts combat, but virtually no blood is shown. Happily, ROGUE ONE contains absolutely no foul language or lewd content.
Strong caution is advised for younger children due to the movie’s New Age elements and its war violence. As always, MOVIEGUIDE® encourages all parents to exercise discernment regarding what movies they let their children see.
(BB, C, PaPa, FR, ACAC, VV) Strong moral worldview with some redemptive content stresses hope as part of its premise, doing the right thing, repentance, redemption, sacrifice, and finding a purpose in something bigger than oneself, with allusions to Intelligent Design, but with some pagan elements of the New Age idea “The Force” which resolves some plot problems and preoccupy a few characters, some characters seem to pray to the Force, but the Force is described at one point as having a “will,” which seems contradictory and there’s less discussion of the Force and its qualities than previous Star Wars movies, plus movie has a strong, positive anti-totalitarian message; no foul language; moderate battle violence with many people and storm troopers getting shot by blasters or killed in explosions, whole cities and planets are destroyed, heroine’s mother is shot by one of the evil Emperor’s henchmen when she was a child, little girl has to hide from villains, who kill her mother and take her father, a character falls around 20 feet and is knocked unconscious, many starships battle in outer space and above planets, one-man starships attack two bases, blind man sometimes uses stick to knock out and beat back the Empire’s storm troopers, a man has information extracted from him by a creepy monster that reads his thoughts, Darth Vader’s heavily deformed body is briefly seen, Darth Vader chokes a character using the Force to teach him a lesson and remind him of his place; no sexual content but a romance brews; no nudity; no alcohol use; no smoking or drugs; and, no other objectionable content.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is a prequel that takes place right before the very first STAR WARS movie. The Imperial Empire is quickly taking power, but seeks to create the ultimate weapon to defeat any opposition. Jyn has been on the run almost her entire life. When she was young, her father Galen was taken and forced to build the super weapon. Years later, the weapon is nearing completion, but Galen has created a weak spot. If Jyn and her friends can get the weapon’s blueprints to the Rebel Alliance, they may have a chance.
ROGUE ONE is a thrilling, thoroughly engaging entertainment. There seems to be fewer New Age elements than previous STAR WARS movies, but some characters have particular fascinations with the “Force.” The good news is that ROGUE ONE contains strong moral elements with some redemptive qualities. Thus, the movie promotes doing the right thing, a desire for redemption, sacrifice, and fighting a totalitarian empire. Ultimately, hope wins the day. ROGUE ONE contains no foul language, but there are many battle scenes. MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution.