10 things I loved about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Warning: spoilers ahead. But, seriously? This movie’s been out for, like, a long time.

So, it turns out I wrote an article about Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. Because I liked it that much. And, I forgot about it. You’ll see why if you make to number 10. I promise it makes sense. Here are 10 things I really loved about the movie. It’s not a perfect movie. It’s kind of weird in the series. It’s dark. It doesn’t have a happy ending, really.

…Or, it’s more complex than you think. Hidden messages about violence and warfare? Allusions to the Manhattan Project? The process of grief and coping mechanisms of complex people? I don’t know…that’s what I got out of it.

1. Diversity

A female lead, a Mexican hero, a ragtag team of immigrants. This movie stood out in so many ways. I don’t think people realize what this means. When all you see is the same thing, over and over, you forget that there are other people who are not being represented. And throwing in a token “diversity” role means that one single person is meant to represent all things for their gender/race/background/etc. I can’t even tell you how excited I was when just some of the fighter pilots were girls in the last Star Wars film. The one thing they had in common? Everyone had a chance to turn things around in their life; a chance to give back and redeem themselves.

2. Shot locations

Black sand beaches? The tropical beach end battle sequence? The black market? The temple? Seamless…just great. I felt transported the whole time.

3. Bomber. Story. Telling.

The blind leading the blind? The mystical crystal? The feeling that you’re finding your way through sheer luck and destiny? “I am one with The Force, The Force is with me.” Come on! There’s a reason those motifs resonate so deeply—even with cynics. Universal themes bring up all the feels we are hardwired to share, no matter our background, ethnicity, religious affiliation, whatever. Unless you are a stone-cold sociopath tired of faking it, there’s part of you that wishes there was “a Force” out there balancing good and evil. Something to make sense of the senseless, a universe that has your back, a purpose to the chaos.

4. Bots.

K-2SO could have sucked. Alan Tudyk doesn’t suck. He had the appropriate amount of feelings for a bot. You cared because his angsty, mean exterior felt like a defense mechanism. It felt relatable. It probably reminded you of someone you know.

5. Old School Tech

There’s something that bugs me about prequels more than anything. I can’t handle going back in time and seeing better technology, cooler robots and weapons, and greater spaceships. The team behind this movie kept it simple. Darth Vader didn’t have a better helmet, the costumes all looked like my childhood memories—and guess what? The story worked just fine, thank you very much.

6. “Behold I am death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The allusion to the Manhattan Project & the scientists who regretted their inventions runs through the whole movie. Imagine the climate of our country during the creation of the atomic bomb; the race to build the biggest arsenal of weapons. What if you were the top technologist of that era? What responsibility did you have to make sure your “side” developed it first? Spend some time reading or researching the response these scientists had when they saw their creation for the first time. Nothing in history is black and white. Nothing is simple.

7. The reference to On The Beach

There’s a scene at the end of the movie where the two heroes rest together and await their fate on the beach. They don’t say much, and they know there’s nothing they can do. One of my favorite books, ever, is Nevile Shute’s On the BeachIt’s a post-apocalyptic story where the main characters each deal with their impending deaths (following all-out nuclear war). It was written by an actual weapons development engineer who served in both WW1 and WW2. Think on that for a minute: a writer who’s first-hand accounts developing war machines to destroy the world envisioned the world going out, “not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

8. Hurt people hurt people

In this Star Wars tale, no one gets out without a few scars. Victims go on to create more victims. Instead of a blissfully happy and shiny lead heroine, like Rey, we get Jyn Erso: dark, wounded, mean, distrustful. What has the world given her lately? Heartache? We get a twisted Saw Gerrera who tortures his captives for information, locked away in a cave. But more than that, we get real people. And real people have baggage. It doesn’t mean they are powerless over their destiny, broken beyond all repair, or hopeless. It means they’re authentic. They’ve had their hands slapped, experienced more than you, and are doing the best that they possibly can.

9. Darth Fucking Vader

I don’t remember being afraid of Darth Vader as a kid, but I am now. His rage in the final few moments of the movie was scary. It was a great demonstration of how ruthless and cruel violence is. Maybe it’s hard to connect to the idea of destroying a planet (or a city or even, say, a small hospital in Aleppo) for some people. But, when real evil is locked in the dark with you? It’s hard to ignore.

10. I got it

I went to see this movie with my friend the week after my mom died. It was one of the first things that I did that when I came home. I’d been gone for 17 days and I didn’t even know where to begin. Everything I did felt like walking into a trap. Most movies have a “dead parent” subplot; an orphan origin story. I knew this one for sure would. When Jyn loses her father, there’s a moment where she lashes out at her crew. The pilot tells her she is in shock. First off, he’s right. (I definitely was.) I lashed out a lot. I had a hard time remembering anything, doing basic things—like I was walking around with a severe concussion. A brain injury, even. But…I kept going. I’d wake up and do all the things. Poorly. Sometimes you come out a hero. Sometimes, you end up twisted and plotting everyone’s revenge, unable to trust your old friends. You don’t make eye contact at work for about a month. You notice when people avoid you. You take note. Life is funny that way. Jyn knows she probably won’t make it out of the story alive. But she finds hope. It gives her a reason to keep trying. Her father had hope, even when he was building the Death Star. He hoped she was alive. That someone would find a way to stop the Empire. That his secret could bring them all down.


So there you go. I love talking about this movie. I love anything that gets a conversation about these topics started. This is why I go to the movies. This is why people tell great stories.

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