In December 2016, just as Disney’s STAR WARS universe was starting its earliest stages with the introduction of a new trilogy, audiences were taken back to just before where it all began with ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. This gritty and action-packed prequel focused less on the Skywalker family that has long been the focal point of the franchise, and instead told the story of a group of unlikely heroes whose sacrifice gave the Rebel Alliance, which was still in its infancy, its first major victory in securing the plans for the Galactic Empire’s feared Death Star.
Six years, three movies, and as many live-action series later, ROGUE ONE is back in AMC Theatres nationwide as part of a special IMAX re-release ahead of the long-awaited new STAR WARS show “Andor,” which premieres September 21 on Disney+. The series, which sees the return of Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, is set in the years preceding the events of the 2016 anthology film, and follows the morally ambiguous character as he finds his place in the fledgling Rebel Alliance.
As we prepare for the new series, let's take a trip back in time to that galaxy far, far away as we talk about some of the bigger aspects of ROGUE ONE.
Uprising Of The Rebellion
When the Rebel Alliance was first introduced in STAR WARS: EPISODE IV — A NEW HOPE, the overwhelmed yet determined group of freedom fighters had already secured the plans that would lead to the destruction of the Death Star in the Battle of Yavin IV. In ROGUE ONE, the story of how the alliance came into the possession of those plans was told in great detail, creating one of the most engaging heist films in recent memory. The small team consisting of Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), and several other outcasts, were able to pull off the impossible, creating a satisfying, if not somber, “David and Goliath” story of epic proportions.
Taking place several years prior to the events of the movie, “Andor” sees an even younger, more tenacious, and less proven Rebel Alliance as it puts the pieces in motion to eventually take down Emperor Palpatine, his most-feared enforcer Darth Vader, and the entire Galactic Empire. The series also sees the return of the Rebellion’s founder Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), the militant Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), and other familiar faces.
The Magnitude Of The Death Star
From the first sight of the Death Star in STAR WARS: EPISODE IV — A NEW HOPE, the Galactic Empire’s “Ultimate Weapon” has left audiences both awestruck and quivering in fear because of the superstructure’s immense size and power. Even with the powerful moon-like weapon not being fully operational ahead of the Battle of Yavin IV, the Death Star had the power to destroy entire planets in the blink of an eye, as Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) proved with the destruction of Alderan in front of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).
With the ability to wipe out entire planets and potentially star systems with its full power, it’s easy to see why the young Rebel Alliance would undertake such a risky mission to find the Death Star’s weaknesses and exploit them for their own gain and the survival of democracy in the galaxy. But this proved to be no easy task, as many spies and rebels died in their attempts to track down those tightly-guarded plans, not to mention the massive assault on the structure to destroy it by exploiting those weaknesses.
Try and imagine a scenario where the Death Star could reach its full potential and the effects the massive weapon could have on anyone who doesn’t bow down to the sinister empire.
Darth Vader In Action
The Death Star wasn’t the only powerful weapon the Galactic Empire had up its sleeve in ROGUE ONE, as the feared Darth Vader also made a shockingly brutal appearance in the final act of the movie — the section where the man formerly known as Anakin Skywalker swiftly cut through a ship of rebels.
Up until this point, STAR WARS fans had only seen Darth Vader in duels with Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the occasional choking of insubordinate Imperial officers, so it was truly something else seeing the ruthless Sith lord in action taking down the rebels after the Death Star’s plans had been stolen. This intense scene also perfectly set up Vader’s arrival in the opening minutes of STAR WARS: EPISODE IV — A NEW HOPE, and kicked off the final act of the former Jedi knight’s tortured life.
But even before this epic and terrifying display of power and violence by Darth Vader, the sinister character was lurking in the shadows, letting even his most trusted Imperial officers know that he was there, waiting for a reason to use his forces of evil. Even when meeting with Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), the man tasked with overseeing the design and completion of the Death Star, Vader is quick to flex his strength and intimidating presence.
At the center of ROGUE ONE, like any great STAR WARS story, is a group of unlikely heroes who rose to the occasion despite their past failures and low rankings in the societal pecking order. There were the aforementioned Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, who led the group of rebels in the fight of their lives. Joining them were blind warrior and Guardian of the Whills Cirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), former Imperial pilot Rodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), former Guardian of the Whills Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), and reprogrammed Imperial enforcer droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), who were all willing to put their lives at risk if it meant the Rebellion survived.
Just like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia would later go on to do in their successful war against the Empire, this ragtag group of rebels made up for what they lacked in numbers, firepower, and resources with heart, tenacity, and purpose. Though their fates were sealed from the very beginning, the team still leaves you with a shred of hope that they’ll make it through to see another day.
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is currently playing AMC Theatres nationwide.