Carrie Fisher, who iconically played Princess Leia in the original series, tragically left us 2 weeks after Rogue One was first screened on the 14th of December, 2016. This dreadful event marked a very important moment in Star Wars history. Rogue One, which featured a CGI version of Fisher’s younger likeness, is not officially part of the Star Wars film series: it does not feature the famous opening crawl, nor does it have an episode number. Nevertheless, there is a very clear tie-in to the original series, acting as a direct prequel to A New Hope.
This story contains an entirely new set of characters, which includes: protagonist Jyn Erso, known to her father as Stardust, is played by Felicity Jones; Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, Captain in the Rebel Alliance; Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior who joins the Rebel Alliance; Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, Jyn’s father; Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, a pilot who joins the Rebels and Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, a Clone Wars veteran and close friend to the Erso family. On top of all these human characters, a droid acting as comic-relief named K-2SO joins the cast, voiced by Alan Tudyk. Finally, several old characters were revived by the use of strong CGI – Peter Cushing who portrayed Governor Tarkin in episode IV actually died in 1994, and so his character was completely artificial and computer generated. Other characters brought back from 1977 are Princess Leia and Darth Vader, the latter’s appearance was maybe the best and most intimidating yet.
The film’s characters are a big point of discussion. On one hand, it is controversial that some of the old and beloved characters were revived since they are so evidently CGI: they have been described as plastic and too artificial. Resurrecting the characters also raised some ethical concerns: Cushing has been dead for 22 years, whose resurrection The Guardian described as a “digital indignity”. Should they have brought back to the screen in the first place, preserving their essence? On the other hand, a very positive aspect was the diversity in the casting: Felicity Jones is British, Diego Luna is Mexican, Donnie Yen is Hong Kongese, Mads Mikkelsen is Danish, Riz Ahmed is British of Pakistani descent and Forest Whitaker is American. Another aspect to analyse is the soundtrack. The Original Motion Picture Score resembles John Williams’ original score only slightly – a version of the Imperial March is present, but it’s still a shame that Williams could not have composed the score. However, fans might nevertheless want to listen to it on Spotify, unlocking an almost magical feature whereby the progress bar lights up as a lightsaber!
As Princess Leia received the schematics providing “new hope” and the credits began to roll, the die-hard Star Wars fans largely applauded the first installment of the Star Wars Anthology series. Overall, the film was a great addition to the Star Wars franchise, making numerous references to the original series, not leaving the fans disappointed and even receiving two Oscar nominations, for Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Even though it was arguably not as good as Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is nonetheless exciting and worth the watch.
-Catalina & Femke