is a Star Wars story born of the present, but it ends in May of 1977. It’s a direct prequel to a movie made in response to Nixon’s reign, and it resonates all the more strongly for opening at the dawn of the Trump era. It’s Star Wars in A-flat minor, using most of the same notes from 40 years ago, pounded out on the black keys. That’s not to say that Rogue One
is “edgy,” meaningless as that phrase has become. But it is
on edge: Its heroes are nervous and squirrelly, angry and tired, and frequently scared shitless
—of the fascist nightmare of the Empire, of the defeatist infighting of the Rebellion, and of the possibility that the pain of fighting for a better tomorrow will all be for nothing. But this is still a Star Wars movie, and that means it’s a hopeful one. The kind of hope at Rogue One
’s center isn’t triumphant and rewarding like the original. It leans on the inevitability of its premise—these are the doomed spies who stole the Death Star plans—to give the characters a more muted victory, the kind that sets up a better future for their loved ones, whether or not they see it themselves.
by Bobby Roberts