Don’t Look Into the Death Star, or You Will Die

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – I finally got around to watching this. I was going to go last week, but I wasn’t in the mood. The last movie I saw at the theater was Hidden Figures, and while I’m probably not the first person to mention this, they’re both about the work behind a space mission we already knew about. Not that they were at all similar in how they played out, but I still found that interesting. It DID give us a fairly diverse cast, with Mexican, Asian, and Pakistani actors playing members of the team. Our main protagonist is Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), the daughter of a scientist forced by the Empire to work on the Death Star.

The scientist, Galen, is played by Mads Mikkelsen, in a role that surprisingly DOESN’T make him a pretentious psychopath. Jyn is rescued by Saw Gerrera, a resistance fighter whose methods are too extreme for the Rebel Alliance. Several years later, she’s rescued from an Imperial labor camp by Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor and reprogrammed Imperial security droid K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, who’s become a mainstay in Disney animated movies. K-2SO is a comic relief character who’s similar to C-3PO in some respects, but more sarcastic and with a bad-ass side. They team up with an Imperial pilot who defected, a mercenary, and a blind warrior who constantly recites a mantra about the Force. They find out that Galen purposely built a weakness into the Death Star’s reactor, which explains why one shot could destroy the whole thing. Didn’t the Rebels blow up the second Death Star pretty much the same way, though? Regardless, the rebels are able to transmit the plans for the station, and the movie ends right before A New Hope begins. It’s a shame all the new characters have to die, but I guess that’s why no one talks about them in the original trilogy. C-3PO, R2-D2, and Princess Leia have cameo roles, with Carrie Fisher being digitally inserted for the latter. Also added in that way is Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, who was actually played by Guy Henry. I don’t think there was any particular need to edit in Cushing’s face, but I also have no idea how Cushing would have felt about it.

Darth Vader makes an appearance, as formidable as ever, but this time making a wisecrack. I didn’t know he did that. The idea of a film to fill in a gap in the series was interesting, and I feel they made it fit quite well. Despite the fact that being an immediate prequel forced some constraints on the film, I think it was probably a more original story than The Force Awakens. One thing I do wonder is that, if the Empire started building the Death Star at the end of Revenge of the Sith, doesn’t it seem like more people would have heard of it by the time of Rogue One? I guess they do have a whole galaxy where they can hide it, though.

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3 Responses to Don’t Look Into the Death Star, or You Will Die

  1. I love Rogue One, and had the privilege of writing an essay on it for an upcoming anthology, where I compared the Death Star’s construction to the Manhattan Project, which employed across 30 sites in the U.S., U.K., and CA, 130,000 people, the majority of whom had jobs so compartmentalized they no idea what they were working on.

    As regards Death Star II, that was destroyed due to the Emperor’s hubris. Palpatine leaked the location of the construction, luring the Alliance in based on the notion that they could take the station out before it was completed, unaware that although construction was yet ongoing, the superlaser was operational. The station was also protected by a shield generator on the moon of Endor, which was protected by a “legion” of his best troops. He didn’t consider the possibility of the Ewoks joining the fight because they were like vermin and beneath his notice, but their contribution allowed the Rebels to knock out the shield generator. He also didn’t consider the possibility of Vader’s redemption.

    • Nathan says:

      Yeah, I guess I was thinking that, if the second Death Star didn’t have the flaw built into the reactor core, it shouldn’t have also been destroyed with one hit. But maybe that’s at least partially because it wasn’t finished yet?

      • Exactly, that’s the bait! Palpy’s correct in thinking that an unfinished Death Star will lure the Alliance to thinking “Ooh, easy target,” but can’t conceive that they’d ever be able to knock out the shield generator, which though seemingly impregnable, is exactly what the Rebels do.

        Also, there are deleted scenes that show that Palpatine was actually about to destroy Endor once the shield generator came down, so he had a backup plan even for that scenario. He knew with Luke’s friends down there, Luke wouldn’t sacrifice them, would surrender, kill Vader, call off the attack, and join him. Or at least that was the plan.

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