“Rogue One” entertaining but unoriginal

Death Star
The planet destroying Death Star. Matthew Rietveld / The Watchdog

After Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise, its popularity has only grown. Shortly after the release of the wildly successful eighth movie “The Force Awakens,” Disney has followed up with another crowd-pleaser, “Rogue One.”

The movie is set as a prologue to “A New Hope,” documenting the creation and engineering of the Death Star. The main character, Jyn Erso, joins with the Rebel Alliance to search for her father who was abducted by the empire and forced to develop the Death Star. Through her journey, Jyn discovers that her father designed a critical weakness in the Death Star, with hopes that one day it could be destroyed.

After watching both “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens” in theaters, I made some comparisons between the two. It seemed to take almost no time before Disney cranked out another Star Wars movie, and it took me by surprise when I heard that “Rogue One” was coming out in theaters so soon. Not to my surprise, they were very similar movies. Both featured a strong female lead and diversity in their cast, which is something Disney does well. But the two films also shared similar characters, plots and climaxes.

“Rogue One’s” striking resemblance to “The Force Awakens” may have been intentional, to follow a common theme in the franchise. Regardless, I much preferred “Rogue One” over “The Force Awakens.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the film was how it fit into the existing story of Star Wars. The story of the Death Star is one that anyone who thinks of Star Wars would immediately jump to, and “Rogue One” provides a backstory, adding depth and realism. Before “Rogue One,” it was unclear why a seemingly perfectly designed weapon would have such a simple way to destroy it. With the release of the new film, part of the existing plot fell into place.

Along with a captivating plot, “Rogue One” boasts mind-blowing special effects. Never before have I watched a movie where I couldn’t differentiate between things that were real or computer generated. Because the film was meant to take place right before “A New Hope,” certain classic characters had to be included. But because of how much the original actors had aged, their faces were replicated through 3D modeling – and I couldn’t tell the difference.

“Rogue One” is a film that brings nostalgia to those who grew up with classic Star Wars in their childhood, and stays family-friendly enough for those people to bring their own children to theaters as well.

In recent films, the Star Wars franchise has paid attention to diversity in their casting. With the strong, independent female leads in the latest two films, they could have a profound impact on children who watch the films. It’s important for children, especially young girls, to grow up seeing women in powerful roles. Star Wars is a strong influence on children because of its popularity – not only in films but books, video games, toys and more.

“Rogue One” was without a doubt produced with quality in mind, and it showed. However, I think that Disney needs to come up with a new spin on the classic Star Wars movie. Watching “Rogue One” and “The Force Awakens” almost felt like watching two versions of the same film – a good film, but the same. If the creators were able to breathe new life into Star Wars, then it could continue for many more years. Reproducing the same idea over and over will get old after a few times, but I don’t doubt that there’s something special in the works. With how many years Star Wars has been running, there’s no doubt that it can be adapted for changing times.