Star Wars has always been a cash cow. However, in the Disney-ownership era, there's been hits and misses. An early risk they took with their newly-purchased franchise was Rogue One. This was going to be a non-Skywalker side story. Nobody knew what to expect, but it turned out to be fantastic.
On the heels of the Andor TV show releasing on Disney+ tomorrow, Shirley Li at The Atlantic looks back on this odd duck of a Star Wars movie.
It primarily follows an ensemble of new characters, none of them named Skywalker, Solo, or Palpatine. The Force is mentioned but not wielded. Rogue One aims, as the director Gareth Edwards put it, to portray “the reality of war” and thus features a tone that is darker and grittier than that of other Star Wars movies.
[This new] crew allows Rogue One to observe the world of Star Wars from an unexpected angle: the ground-level, midi-chlorian-free, lightsaber-less foot-soldier perspective, where decisions have to be made on morsels of intelligence and where, more often than not, one’s moral compass is the only reliable tool available.The Atlantic
One tidbit Li leaves out is that this movie was heavily changed by way of reshoots. Early trailers of Rogue One featured scenes and lines that never made it into the film. While we will never know what the original cut looked like, the final product is an incredibly-strong movie. "RO" has a few good things going for it: characters with actual stakes, a powerful story that cannot rely on any superhuman abilities, great casting, and the ability to be different.
One difficult part of watching many "prequel" TV shows and movies is there are no stakes for the characters. If someone is in a battle or going to do something dangerous, we know they will be okay because they show up in something that takes place many years later. For me, this is one piece I don't like about Strange New Worlds because nearly everyone must live in order for other stories to be told. Of course, this is why new characters are introduced so there are stakes and those people could die.
Rogue One, for many, is high up on their list when ranking Star Wars movies. It is for me too, and one reason I was disappointed in Solo. It was another side story I thought could be good but ended up being a convoluted mess. Rogue One had none of that.
Andor will expand on RO's roots and I have my hopes up. Early reviews are good (especially with the 4th episode), so I am eagerly looking to see how this turns out. In the meantime, I believe a Rogue One rewatch is in order.