A STAR WARS war movie? HOW?! WHY?! WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT?! It's funny - I saw this floating around social media on Friday and just had to shake my head, mainly in response to the Vox review headlined "Rogue One review: this is the first Star Wars movie to acknowledge the whole franchise is about war." All it did was prove how eager people are to jump on folks on social media for the slightest perceived mistake, and how unwilling they are to actually read and consider the case being made. Todd articulated quite well how different the approach is to this Star Wars movie vs. all the others, war in all of the titles or not. So, uh, yeah - I'm sticking by what I said.
What case is there to be made? Is there a STAR WARS movie that doesn't take place amidst a war?
The other STAR WARS films glorify wars, focusing squarely on GOOD VERSUS EVIL - Finn is horrified by the violent massacre taken by the First Order, then gleefully kills his own former Stormtrooper brethren a half hour later. We don't wince because GOOD VERSUS EVIL blah blah blah. Everyone is fighting, there are plenty of dogfights, many deaths. It's a relatively simple, extremely prejudiced ideology that drives the plots of these films.
I, for one, love that the Rebels aren't only killing what they perceive as bad guys, that they are shown as flawed in their judgments, that an Imperial can betray the Empire but also stand up to take the blame in effort to save the other Imperials that were staffed beneath him that gave genuine shock at the news that someone possibly betrayed them. Yes, that moral ambiguity exists here, but it was always there, the creators just didn't open the universe enough to allow the audience to see it.