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Since the highly-anticipated release of Star Wars Episode One in 1999, I have seen every Star Wars movie on opening night. I would have seen the original trilogy in the theaters, but I had the terrible scheduling conflict of not being born yet. Nonetheless, Star Wars was a constant presence in my home as a kid. What began with excitement turned to agony with the release of each prequel. I had hoped that with each subsequent movie that the series would improve, only to be greatly disappointed. We can now wipe away all those tears and rejoice because Rogue One is the prequel you have always wanted!

Rogue One takes place just days, sometimes minutes, before Star Wars Episode Four begins. The first act is a bit shaky as it rushes to introduce us to new planets and characters. Do not attempt to remember all the names and places; it will only give you a headache, and most of it doesn’t matter in the long run. It is the second and third act that makes this film so much fun to watch. The constant action isn’t just for the sake of action but manages to move the story along while defining the motivation of our main characters. Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones, is the story’s main focus, however Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, shines as the Han Solo to Felicity’s “Luke.”

It’s very possible to watch this whole movie, care about all the characters, yet not even remember their names by the time it is over. Instead of easy names like Luke, Han or Leia, we get names like Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus (or the guy with the stick and the guy with the gun, respectfully, as I tend to call them.) It’s not only the names that are more complicated; it’s the characters themselves.

This is the only Star Wars movie that does not have a single Jedi in it. And without the presence of the spiritual leaders of the galaxy, moral relativism is the new norm. Luke Skywalker was a simple country boy who just wanted to help, and he seemed to have a very strong moral compass. That compass became even more defined as he trained as a Jedi, who live by a very strict moral code. Our new lead characters are both deeply flawed. Jyn is a career criminal, and Cassian isn’t afraid to murder as long as he thinks the ends justify the means. This reminded me of the quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky who once said, “Without God, all things are permissible.”

The movie is very reflective of our current culture. As society tries to distance itself from Christianity’s belief in absolute morality, the lines between right and wrong have all but faded into a dark grey. It has been said by other reviewers that there is more war in this movie than any other Star Wars movie, and that is true. However the internal war within the characters themselves is even greater. Absent the guiding light of the Jedi, our characters are left to wander as they search for good and meaning in this very dark universe. For Christians this should remind us of how important it is to be a source of peace and light in a world full of darkness and war.

If you haven’t seen any other Star Wars movie’s this is a great place to get started. And if you love Star Wars then this is a must see. The last 30 minutes will have you holding onto your chair and remind you why Darth Vader is the most fearsome villain in the Galaxy!