It did!

I promise: I wrote this on time and meant to schedule it, I just wasn’t connected to wifi when I wrote it. Thus It’s late but I hope you’ll forgive me.

I’ve seen Rogue One: A Star Wars story twice now and both times I was in tears by the end. Every criticism I had of The Force Awakens has been met and mastered by RO.

Since the original characters hadn’t entered the story yet, I have no expectations about their appearance to be met or dashed, aside from the magnificent return of James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader. The only other returning characters were princess Lea in a perfectly appropriate cameo and General Tarkin, master of the Death Star.

The character of Han Solo was replaced by rebel pilot Cassian Andor. While not as witty or devil-may-care, Cassian is as gritty and real as Han Solo would have been had we seen more of his back story. Cassian, someone we should be rooting for as hero of the rebellion, does some very bad things in the name of the movement and faces a crisis of conscience so big it takes half the film. He’s not nonchalantly blasting obviously bad guys, he’s a soldier following orders who winds up sacrificing every shred of energy and self interest for a greater cause. He’s the Han Solo I was hoping for in TFA: complicated, brave, not always very nice, but dedicated to something he’s spent his entire life working towards.

Our female lead, playing the precursor to the clever and courageous Princess Leah, is Jyn (gin) Erso. Caught up in the machinations of governments she has no interest in, Jyn begins as a self interested prisoner and grows into the one to deliver the most stirring speech of the film. The father-daughter dynamic trikes me particularly as I am very close to my own and with his sacrifice as the catalyst I don’t see her change of heart as artificial.

It’s also worth noting, and has been noted before, that there is no romance in this film, as well there shouldn’t be. They’re in the middle of a freaking war and while some people respond to stress by seeking sex, many don’t. It makes sense for strangers to remain strangers when Jyn uses her wits and strength as a tool instead of her sexuality. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that but it’s refreshing to see the change.)

I complained that the plot of TFA trivialized the search and sacrifice for the Death Star plans because they used the same plot device but everything was an accident instead of carefully planned. This film tells the story that TFA cheapened and does it in a way that made me laugh, made me cry, and sent me home elated. Here, finally, is a Star Wars film that takes itself seriously!

It was said by a friend of mine that Miticlorians ruined the force. The attempt to explain how the force works took some of the mysticism and ritual out of it and tried unsuccessfully to drag a space opera into the realms of science fiction alongside Star Trek and Aliens. There is one character in RO:ASWS that renews the drama and mysticism of the force. He also provides both comic relief and the most poignant scene in the entire film. I had to hold my hands over my mouth to keep from sobbing in the theater both times and the act of writing about it is bringing tears to my eyes. Like legit tears welling up and falling down my face.
And of course the droid. The droids are always the comic relief. The clever, the foreign, the oddly loyal but sometimes kooky hunks of metal that help keep the humans safe. Even the droid was complex. Even the machine had heart.

I had a problem with the fan service in TFA because it felt out of place. The phrases we recognize didn’t fit in the context they were put and so it took me out of the film when I heard them. In RO, it was hella appropriate because the timelines are so close. I think RO leaves off a week or less before ANH begins and so when we see original footage from ANH, it makes perfect sense! When we see an artfully computer rendered princess Leah, it makes perfect sense! When the uniforms and the fighters and the sets are all the same, it makes perfects sense! I walked away immediately wishing to watch ANH so I could ‘find out’ what happens next!

Suffice it to say that, while it did take the entire first half of the movie to introduce our characters, establish back stories, deal with everyone’s crises of conscience, and introduce the real heart pounding action, I didn’t ever feel bored. In short: I loved it! This is the film we will remember as the turning point in the franchise (I hope) from a fun yet frivolous space opera to a grittier, more complex story of fierce loyalty, real passion, quick wits, and the perennial crowd pleaser: the underdog story.

I noticed something on my second viewing that I’m happy to discuss with the more politically minded but it’s a pretty deep topic and so I’ll leave you with this thought for your second viewing: pay attention to all the rebel uniforms. There are factions we are supposed to like and factions we are not supposed to like. The uniforms evoked associations in me as an American viewer around various guerrilla forces including American forces in Vietnam and Insurgent forces in Iraq and Afganistan, (as portrayed by media; I’ve never seen either in person). It was pretty clear to me who was supposed to be the bad guy and who was supposed to be the underdog, though they never fought each other directly.

In any case, I enjoyed the movie very much and would be happy to geek out on it with any and all interested parties. Or uninterested parties. I’ll geek out on anyone if I get the chance. I’m so happy!