(NOTE: The following contains NO major spoilers for the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and certainly nothing that a TV commercial or trailer won't have already revealed to you.)
Now, here's the thing. This isn't a review of #RogueOne, the latest #StarWars-themed adventure to emerge from #Lucasfilm's ever-growing pile of profitable saga-themed story ideas. After all, it's a Star Wars movie, and it's great. For the vast majority of people reading this, that's likely all you need to know in order to book a ticket. As such, this isn't a review, and won't dwell on the individual ways in which the movie succeeds or fails, or even go on about just how fantastic its cast is.
Instead, this article is interested in the handful of somewhat surprising — yet incredibly important — ways in which...
'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' Is A Very Different Kind Of Star Wars Movie
Ways which, as it turns out, might just be turn out to be pretty important for anyone reading this who isn't willing to go to see a Star Wars movie simply because it's set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
'Rogue One' Is Both An Unusually Progressive Movie...
Or, rather, it's an unusually progressive blockbuster movie. While independent cinema has long since embraced such controversial things as "trying not to actively exclude people who aren't straight white men from the screen" and "actually bothering to give those same people something interesting to do," the majority of blockbuster movies have...lagged behind, somewhat.
Rogue One, on the other hand — to an even greater extent than its immediate, strikingly progressive predecessor, #TheForceAwakens — actually bothers to do simple yet effective things like hire a diverse cast of interesting actors, none of whom are defined within the narrative by anything other than their characters plot arc and history. Heck, the film even manages to largely bypass the sort of traditional romantic tropes that tend to define females in relation to their male love interests — something that even the most progressive of movies have a tendency to indulge in for the sake of commercial simplicity.
In other words? Rogue One is the sort of movie that alt-right white supremacists were probably right to boycott — because it depicts precisely the sort of multi-cultural, equality-driven groups that terrify them so. In much the way that the homogeneous, power-hungry Empire scared us all as children, Rogue One's careful, considered depiction of a better, more equal way of doing things would surely scare the swastikas off of them. Rogue One, then, is indeed — in the context of the world we live in — an unusually progressive movie...
...And An Unusually Adult One
It's also, y'see, precisely the sort of fun yet "grown up" movie that devotees of #TheEmpireStrikesBack complained about The Force Awakens not quite being. #FelicityJones's #JynErso is a distinctly feminist figure for a whole lot of reasons, but one of the most endearing is the fact that for much of the films running time she's largely just focused on a) surviving, and b) being precisely the sort of mildly morally compromised yet badass hero that anyone who's ever loved Han Solo has been waiting for since, well, last December.
Meanwhile, the story surrounding her is a complex, ethically murky and pointedly subtle action adventure, of the sort that Hollywood largely doesn't make any more for fear of alienating audiences they worry have grown used to explosions replacing character complexity. It is, effectively, the film that Empire Strikes Back would have been if someone had turned it up to 11 — and not given Lando that cape.
'Rogue One' Is An Intriguing Mix Of Old School 'Gritty' Star Wars, And Progressive Thinking
And yes, that particular approach does indeed work just as well as you'd hope.
The Force is with them, and all that.
What do you think, though? Are you excited for a more progressive and morally complex Star Wars movie? Let us know below!