Rogue One spoilers ahead.
Up until this past weekend I strenuously resisted the new Star Wars movies, but one of my friends insisted–multiple times–that I see “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” so that I could witness the Darth Vader scene at the end. Before the age of 10, I’d changed my favorite character allegiance from Luke–the obvious hero–to Vader. As far as I know, my mother’s phone still plays the Imperial March when I call her. It was obvious to even my young mind that Vader was in control of himself in a way that no one else in the movies is; except Yoda and Kenobi. And they don’t fight much so where is the fun in them?
Yes, Vader is cruel, but he is disciplined and religious. That’s one of the plot holes in the original series: While we are told Vader is ruled by hate and that hate leads to emotional impetuousness and thus to the Dark Side, we never see Vader lose his cool and lash out. They tried to correct that plot hole in the prequels. Young Anakin is shown as rash and emotional. But it didn’t work. That kid wasn’t Vader.
Rogue One attempts to explain another (supposed) plot hole of the original three films: How did it come to be that the Death Star could be blown up by one torpedo from one small spacecraft? Isn’t that a terrible design for a space station? The old answer was the simple recognition that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The new answer is that a crucial engineer of the Death Star sabotaged his own design so that fifteen years later the rebels could defeat an enormous planet-destroying battle station–which was littered with anti-spacecraft weapons, supported by multiple Star Destroyers, and guarded by hundreds (thousands?) of fighters–and that it worked. Talk about your best laid plans!
My problem with Rogue One is deeper. They fundamentally changed the Star Wars world. Unlike the 1-3 prequels, Rogue One looks and sounds like Star Wars, but the context is wildly different. In films 4-6 the Rebels are openly rebellious, and so they are constantly on the run from the Empire. The Empire knows who they are, and more importantly, the Rebels know who they are themselves. It’s a rebellion with at least a sense of honor. They are overtly–superversively even–against the Empire. Though outmatched they skirmish, flee, and hide only to skirmish again one day. They take small victories where they can, and wait for the time when circumstances are on their side. Whole planets, as separate sovereign entities, chose to ally and rebel against the Empire. They have their own defense contractors, their own academies, and so forth. In short: It’s the medieval pattern of how nobles rebelled against kings and emperors. Such rebellions happen throughout the history of medieval England. The medieval pattern of episodes 4-6 makes sense in a world with religious knights such as the Star Wars universe.
Rogue One’s Rebels look like Star Wars Rebels, but they act like Muslim insurgents. The leadership of the various planets is minimized; almost wholly cut-out. Their equipment is scavenged or improvised rather than products of their own civilizations. They are assassins and saboteurs rather than warriors; men and women “fight” side-by-side with effeminate tactics of subversion instead of straightforward attacks. The Rebels in Rogue One are ISIS and Al Qaeda rather than warring Christians.
The whole Star Wars series is now a piece of filmic history that documents the anti-Christian spiritual tides that swamped the West, and which are very fashionable even among many so-called rightists.