Rogue One is a film that runs parallel to the main Star Wars sequence. Unlike *The Force Awakens* it’s also, at least for the Star Wars universe, a new story rather than a rehash of an old film. Being old, I remember a number of “commando raid” type war films, from The Dirty Dozen to The Guns of Navarone and their ilk. I probably wouldn't watch any of those films again, let's be honest, I probably wouldn't watch any early 70's film again, and while Rogue One is not a direct steal from any of those films it certainly hits similar beats. However, there is a place for gritty, wartime, action-adventure movies, and the Star Wars universe can cope with it as well as any other.


The actual plot is hard to write about in detail because unlike far too many trailers, the trailers for Rogue One were not spoiler heavy. I will say, unlike the prequels in the main arc, although we know where this story is going as the plot unfolds, because it's centred around new characters we don't know how it's going to get there. That means we're spared a lot of 'well he's going to turn evil, she's going to die, she's going to live' and so the drama remains fresh and compelling.


If I may wax philosophical a moment, and it’s my blog so I’m going to, the original Star Wars films didn’t introduce any exactly new stories but they did give us a fresh look, a new angle, and a new setting for old stories and made them exciting and vibrant again. The other four films, for a variety of reasons, struggled to deliver that sense of freshness and excitement, at least in me. Rogue One has a slightly harder job - there are odd moments where there’s a strong feeling of “I’ve seen that shot before,” but they are moments rather than huge chunks and partly because of that, for me, they evoked nostalgia rather than ennui - and really this film is the first of the Star Wars franchise since Return of the Jedi to have that fresh new look and that sense of excitement and vibrant new hope.


In my opinion this is a film well worth seeing. The Force Awakens, as I said it probably would, has slipped from actually quite moderate 9th place in the end of year rankings for 2015 and I’d now rank it lower than The Water Diviner which was 15th originally. I haven’t really started on this year’s list yet but I imagine Rogue One will be in the top few films of the year.


Bechdel Test: There are certainly a few named female roles. There are a couple of conversations between named female characters as well and at least one of them is not about a man, so yes. There are 7 named female roles (I’ve made the decision that Blue Three and the like are titles, not named roles, but the three ages of Jyn Urso are listed separately and counted separately), and 37 named male roles. There are three named androids, all voiced by males. Of the female roles, only Jyn is strongly drawn. There are powerful female roles (senators and the like) but we know nothing of the character except she’s a senator and rebel leader. Jyn, however, is really the only fully rounded character we meet, even Cassian is shaded in rather than fully drawn.


Russo Test: This is tricky. I think the answer is no. However there are two monks who are male and clearly love each other. I think it’s in either a form akin to agape (love for god) or philia (love for brother) rather than an erotic sense but there was one (distinctly non-erotic) scene that made me think they might be life-partners and lovers. If that’s the case, this would be a clear pass of all three steps of the test. I’m going to mark this as unsure.

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