Rogue One: Star spangled spinoff

Film: Rogue One

Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen   

Director: Gareth Edwards  

Do movies like Rogue One and other women-centric films get released in Saudi Arabia, a country where men can call for the execution of a woman who dares to appears in public without the hijab? I wonder what Saudis make of reel, never mind real life, heroines like the one in this spin off from the blockbuster Star Wars franchise.

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is feisty and lovely and vulnerable. Oh, Rogue One has other strong women too. In the male dominated consortium of rulers, are a few women senators and two very very important women: Mon Mothma (played by Genevieve O` Reilly) the leader of the Rebel Alliance and a royal, the Princess Leia ( Carrie Fisher), whose appearance at the close of the film provoked as many loud  whistles as Darth Vader and his light saber.

However, the principals of the Star wars saga are peripherals here – upcoming spinoffs will hopefully have as many exciting newbies to the Star Wars universe as the film under review.

Helmed by Gareth (Godzilla ) Edwards, “Rogue One:A Star wars story” revolves around a group of roguish heroes on a mission to purloin the plans to the Death Star, the evil Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction, which was so vital in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Naturally there are new characters to propel the plot forward. Such as the pilot  (Riz Ahmed) who claims he has been sent by Jyn’s, father Galen ( Mads Mikkelsen)  Set action pieces follow, on planetary and interstellar levels, interspersed by sequences in which the characters engage in meaningful discussions. I don’t recall seeing another film – maybe I did, but then I’ve forgotten – in which the characters are so self-aware.
“We’ve been assassins,spies.we did things we’ve been ashamed off in the service of a cause”, says intel officer Capt Cassian Andor (Diego Luna)

Can he be trusted? He is,after all, as the viewer knows though not the heroine, a man with a hidden agenda. It is clear,though that Jyn is extra-special. Listen to the futuristic Joan of Arc as she, a streetsmart orphan raised by resistance fighter Guererra ( Forest Whitaker), rouses the rank and file from the Rebel Alliance:”When we are confronted by a great evil, the only thing to do is stand and fight.

” So depraved is this evil, it corrupts the hearts of merciless men who coldly issue orders for and watch the ( cgi) destruction of entire planets. Needless to say the special effects are superb and the interstellar landscape ditto. Guns and missiles, as viewers  will see, are piddling toys in comparison to the awesome arsenal in the possession of such soulless men of The Empire as the head of the Death Troopers,Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn)

What then? In that galaxy far far away,there is no God but the Force and few,very few believe in this entity; people like Galen who is connected to the Death Star and Chirrut Imwe, the blind Buddhist warrior monk played by Donnie Yen; a memorable character who shines, nay dazzles.Sadly R2D2 and CP3O aren’t around but another interesting droid K250 (Alan Tudyk) is.

A crucial segment of the narrative towards the end reminded me of Nevil Shute’s On the Beach which may have also inspired the tsunami-tossed shoreline death scene in the sci fi disaster film Deep Impact. It is a heart rending scene but Rogue One’s canny film-makers quickly proceed to a crowd-pleasing resolution in the hope the audience will move on  too. I did. After all, doesn’t Tagore say,Ekla chalo ekla chalo re? Even so we cannot, will not forget the bravery, courage and self-sacrifice of those who died those others may live in this star spangled universe.

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