I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (also known as Star Wars: Rogue One or, to those not so grammatically inclined, Rouge One) yesterday and I have some thoughts. May the Spoilers be with me!
Also, not just spoilers for Rogue One, because I will also be spoiling the shit out of Joss Whedon’s 2005 sci-fi classic Serenity. Just go with me here.
There is a moment towards the end of Serenity, after Wash has died (“I am a leaf on the wind”) and Zoe is injured that I (and probably most of the audience) thought, “They are all going to die, aren’t they?” They were in an unwinnable position. They could get their message out, but they were surrounded on all sides and there was no way they were getting out. The funny comic relief guy that everyone looked to when things needed to be light and fun was dead. Nobody was going to live.
This turned out to be a trick, however, because Serenity is about survival as much as it’s about being stepped on. Rogue One is also about survival, but it’s more about how important the message is rather than how important the characters are. The characters are important, but the message is more important. Because, in this case, coincidentally after Alan Tudyk’s character dies again in this film, I thought the same thing: “They are all going to die, aren’t they?” And this time, I was right.
Rogue One is not a perfect film. There are numerous flaws which I could point out, but I won’t, because that third act, that war film, that siege movie, that moment where you think everyone is going to die and then everyone dies, that is important. There will no sequel to this film, no Rogue One 2. Jyn isn’t Rey’s mom. Jyn is dead. Her father is dead. Her mother is dead. Cassian is dead. Bodhi the brave pilot, who wanted to redeem himself, who just thought up the name “Rogue One” off the top of his head, who survived being mind-raped and went on to be one of the best characters, is dead. A random grenade killed him. A blaster shot killed Chirrut Îmwe, who wasn’t a Jedi, but used the Force anyway. His friend (and I will always think of him as husband, because they sounded like an old married couple and wouldn’t that be great?) Baze dies right next to him after multiple blaster shots and another grenade.
Alan Tudyk’s character, K-2SO, dies first, of course. He’s the funny comic relief, but not annoying, like you’d think. He’s surly, instead, and sarcastic. He doesn’t care about anyone, except, of course, those he cares about. “Yes, I should have stayed on the ship,” he says after he saves their lives. And he saves their lives again as he’s being blasted into pieces. Nobody lives in this film, not even the droids.
The last act has many other similarities to the last act of Serenity — both involve needing to send a signal from a base under massive attack — but I’ll leave that to you guys. Yes, the CGI faces bugged me (did we really need to CGI a young Carrie Fisher?), but not enough to take away from the rest of it. Because the rest of it was beautiful. The rest of it gave us these great characters, each of whom had their own stories, their own lives, and then killed them. And for that, Rogue One deserves all the praise it gets. (I mean, it also deserves praise for making Darth Vader a badass again, but that began with Rebels and the Darth Vader comic book.)
If you’re reading this review, you’ve probably already seen the film and these poor, doomed characters. But in case you haven’t and are merely spoiling yourself, go see it.
They are all leaves on the wind. Watch how they soar.