Serving as an immediate prelude to the very first Star Wars film (A New Hope), Rogue One restores a measure of gravitas to the Star Wars canon that was seriously undermined by the goofiness of 2015’s The Force Awakens. Rogue One is still a remarkable nostalgia trip, thanks to the digital recreation of familiar Rebel and Imperial hardware along with the likenesses of actors who first appeared in the original 1977 film. But without the need to consider future franchise opportunities for its stars, Rogue One is free to kill off all of its major characters, marking a narrative structure that is unprecedented for blockbusters in general and Disney piffle in particular. Self-sacrifice inspires a strong emotional response from the audience—see, for example, Obi-Wan Kenobi posing peacefully in A New Hope before Darth Vader strikes him down. The several heroes in Rogue One sacrifice themselves one by one until all that’s left is a floppy disk in the hands of a princess. This is powerful plotting, and all credit to the film’s writers. Perhaps there is hope for the fictional far-far-away galaxy after all.
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