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George Lucas created a pretty big world in Star Wars. A world we’ve seen some pretty small “official” glimpses of, but Disney took over and stepped up those glimpses tenfold, and then some. But one thing we’ve seen in even smaller doses is the glimpse of that grey area of war that comes with the nature of the beast. There is good in bad and bad in good. Always. The bad guys never see themselves as bad guys, and the good guys are fighting – and killing – in the name of their cause. Rogue One is the first Star Wars film to address this head on, and do a wonderful job of it. In fact, I can’t think of any other film that does it this well…not off the top of my head anyway.

Just a head’s up, there’s a spoiler here. At least one. So if you’re bothered by that, I’d stop reading after this sentence. But if you haven’t seen the newest Star Wars movie yet, you’re not a big enough fan to be worried about that, honestly. Two weeks to see one film, when in the past we’ve waited decades for another glimpse into the Star Wars Universe…you probably won’t be bothered. Also, pretty much all the characters from this movie are dead now, so it won’t really matter in the long run anyway. Oh yeah, that’s the spoiler…the first one.

Rogue One follows a rogue band of Rebels stealing the Death Star plans from an Imperial Base, which leads directly into the beginning moments of A New Hope. Literally.

The whole thing seems like an unnecessary story to tell. We don’t need the info, really. Plans came into the hands of the Rebels, and that’s all we needed to get the original trilogy started. Everything worked fine that way. All except the “flaw” in the Death Star exhaust port, which has been the butt of jokes for decades now…

Rogue One gives us a great answer for the Death Star’s crushing weakness – in a way that I hadn’t thought about, but never really bothered to, either – but it gives us much more than that. We get to see that sometimes tough to think about, grey area of wartime in a very real way. In a way relatable to the galaxy of the characters we know, or any other galaxy as well.

So let’s start with this: Cassian Andor is one of the strongest characters in the Star Wars lore – and possibly one of the best wartime characters, in general. The first thing we see of Cassian is an encounter with an Imperial informant, in which he murders the man for his own “selfish” means. Saving the the man from torture, sure, but mainly keeping the Rebel Alliance hidden from the Empire. …but where do you stand here? The man would’ve been tortured and put to death no matter what, right? So…killing him to save the Rebel secrets makes sense…right?

This is everywhere in Rogue One. The nature of war is dark and light – which is perfect for Star Wars in name and in spirit – and this film deals with the dirty secrets we need to accept. The first thing we see is Galen Erso, a retired(?) Imperial engineer, yielding himself to the Empire in order to save his daughter…but he did what he had to, didn’t he? Helped the Empire with their evil plans, in order to keep his loved ones safe? Built the ultimate weapon, to keep himself from slaughter…but built it with a flaw to help the Rebel Alliance from the inside?

The intentions are both good and bad for almost every character, but for Cassian, he is the grey area, embodied.

Cassian is ordered to kill Galen Erso when he’s found. A traitor to the Alliance, Galen was too problematic for the Alliance to keep alive…but as an audience, we know more than the rest of the characters. We know Galen isn’t as evil as the Rebels believe. But the orders still stand, and Cassian is faced with a choice. And even when he chooses not to kill Galen, his crew discovers what he had planned to do, and he loses their trust. It wasn’t his fault, and he disobeyed a direct order to do “the right thing,” but it still negatively affects the rest of the mission.

Cassian’s speech to the crew after Galen’s eventual death represents what the Rebel Alliance is made of. A bunch of people dedicated to a cause, no matter the cost…but isn’t that the same as the Empire? Dedicated because they believe it’s the best option for the future of the galaxy?

If there are two sides to every story, Rogue One is both sides for everyone. Cassian’s speech before the final infiltration of Scarif says everything that needs to be said: We’ve all done bad things for a cause we believe in. We couldn’t live with ourselves if we stopped now. This realization is the nature of the Rebellion, and what it means to be at war.

The morality of the film is so grey throughout, it’s hard to miss it, but it isn’t absolutely necessary information either. We had enough in A New Hope to carry three films. But getting the information helps paint a new picture: This is war. Which, aside from the shooting and two specific factions clashing, we never really got this full idea from the original films.

Couple this with the rest of the Rogue One’s dark spots – like LITERALLY everyone dying – this is one mature film. The action, effects and performances make this film absolutely entertaining…for fans, at least. Other than that, I’m not sure how it plays. I do know that with Rogue One “technically” being a Star Wars prequel, this is EASILY THE GREATEST thing we could’ve hoped for.

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