rogue one star wars The first thing you need to know about Rogue One is that it’s a war movie. This should not be surprising for a saga that is, after all, named Star Wars, but never before had we seen the actual conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion take so much of the scene. Consistently with the Space Opera genre, we are used to epic tales of good and evil, flashy displays of the mystical powers of the Force, space wizards fighting with lightsabers, aliens playing musical instruments in cantinas and the most emotional droids in science fiction.

Rogue One has hardly any of this, nor does it need it (the one droid it has is big, bad, and sarcastic). As a prequel to seeing the war from the viewpoint of Jedi and generals, we now get to see inside the Rebellion and its factions, and it’s not always pretty. While the Empire still earns the crown of being the bad guys, the “good guys” aren’t so squeaky clean either, engaging in activities which classify our heroes as guerrilla fighters or terrorists according to the viewpoint. The Council of the Alliance is so blinded by the conflict that we see the characters repeatedly rebel against the Rebellion itself, in the name of their conscience.

As in real wars, we see science coerced to do the bidding of the war machine: and in a neat little continuity twist we learn that the infamous design flaw in the Death Star is not a mistake, but the conscious vendetta of a very angry scientist held hostage by the Empire for years (and kudos to Mads Mikkelsen who is perfect for the role).

Individuals and their choices and motivations are at the heart of Rogue One: while the tone is grittier and perhaps less epic than in the earlier installments, never before has the Star Wars universe felt so real. The Battle of Sharif is not filmed to remind us of the Battle of Endor, but of Vietnam and Normandy (WWII references abound). When we see convoys being attacked in the ancient desertic Jedi city of Jedah, it’s not Tatooine we think of, but the all too real suffering of populations caught in the crossfire of civil conflict in Syria (or Iraq, or Yemen).

While many feared what Disney would do to the Star Wars franchise, it’s actually safe to say Rogue One is definitely made for an adult public.

I don’t want to spoiler, but Rogue One seems to speak to us in George Martin’s language and it’s saying: Valar Morghulis.