Posted in Film Feature

Star Wars: Top 5 Imperial Officers of the Empire

Written by Dominic Evans

We all know the stories of the “Rebel scum” in a galaxy far, far away, but what of the achievements and accomplishments of the Imperial Officers of the Empire? The bad guys we love to hate! Who were the officers who fought those insurgents, maintained order to the galaxy through fear and helped stabilise the first Galactic Empire? It would have been impossible for Emperor Palpatine and Lord Vader alone to maintain control and security, and I don’t think you would see the Sith undertaking any of the admin work! Prepare the single reactor ignition… You may fire when ready!

5. Colonel Yularen

 

Blink while watching the first meeting of the high ranking Imperial personnel aboard the first Death Star in A New Hope and you will miss him. The old man of experience (donning a crisp white tunic) began his Star Wars story as an unnamed background character that first got his name through a customisable card game! Wulff Yularen has since been handed a rich backstory.

Beginning as an admiral in the Republic Navy, he served gallantly in the Clone Wars, commanding a Cruiser while serving General Anakin Skywalker. A man who respects command and an admirer of bravery and public duty, Yularen became Colonel of the Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) at the rise of the Empire, exposing instances of sedition in the Imperial Senate and later identifying and rooting out rebel spies. One adventure (season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels) had him on board the Chimaera with a blue-faced, red-eyed Chiss, exposing the rebel spy known as “Fulcrum”, Agent Kallus.

His presence was demanded on the Death Star to allay concerns of the station’s security because those pesky Rogue One Rebels stole the battle station’s technical plans. Colonel Wulff Yularen perished on board the Death Star on its destruction at the Battle of Yavin.

4.Grand General Tagge

“If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical readout of this battle station it is possible –however unlikely – that they might find a weakness and exploit it”.

General Cassio Tagge, General and Chief of the Imperial Army, was the only Imperial that took the threat posed by the Rebels seriously, following the theft of the Death Star plans. How right he was! In A New Hope, during the joint chiefs meeting, Tagge’s concerns about the Rebels building support in the Imperial Senate were dismissed heavily by Admiral Motti (who was thereafter choked out by Darth Vader who found “his lack of faith disturbing”). Tagge was not aboard the Death Star upon its destruction (as he was investigating Princess Leia’s false claims of a Rebel base on Dantooine) and was later praised for his foresight by the Emperor himself. He was promoted to Grand General and placed in charge of the Imperial military, charged with the Imperial’s expansion of the Outer Rim.

After the Battle of Yavin, due to the increasing disappointment the Emperor had in Vader, the part-man, part-machine was placed under Tagge’s command. Tagge was an effective and methodical analyst who was very critical of “Tarkin’s Folly” (the Death Star). He pondered on the amount of Super Star Destroyers the Empire could have built instead. Frightening thought! Commander of the Annihilator, Tagge’s power and authority grew, but so did his overconfidence. Holding the well-known Imperial trait, his arrogance blinded his belief that he could wield Vader as his own personal attack dog. How wrong he was after being so right! Vader ultimately killed Tagge the second after he was demoted following an attempted coup.

3. Director Krennic

Cunning. Ambitious. Unpredictable. Volatile. Devoid of compassion, mercy and regard for innocent lives. A working-class man who rose through Imperial ranks thanks to his ruthlessness to earn respect, his determination to make a name for himself and his born-given talent of being a master manipulator. Orson Krennic, Director of the Advanced Weapons Research division of the Imperial militarily and think-tank behind the might of the Death Star, ultimately fell under his own arrogance and obsessions. He was also the only man in the Empire who insisted on wearing a white cape!

After rising to the fore within the Republic Corps of Engineers, following his education within the exclusive Galactic Republic’s Future Program (where he met Galen Erso, the man behind the exhaust port), Krennic manipulated Galen into advancing the research on weaponising kyber crystals for the Death Star’s energy weapon. Working beyond his command, Krennic single-handedly orchestrated the creation of the battle station, utilising smugglers across the galaxy to supply the precious resources, turning them over to the Empire once finished. He was well-known for possessing memorable sarcastic tones: “Oh, look! Here’s Lyra. Back from the dead. It’s a miracle” when Lyra Erso appears with a blaster after Galen had said she died, and “Are we blind?!” following explosions across Scarif.

However, his downfall begun and ended with his grand rival, Grand Moff Tarkin. Krennic cunningly sprung a long-fought battle on Tarkin in the Salient system while he advanced Project Celestial Power behind his back to gain more favour with the Emperor. It therefore came as a shock to him, following the successful test on Jedha City, that Tarkin now claimed responsibility of the Death Star: “We stand here amidst MY achievement! NOT yours!“. Director Krennic was summoned to Vader’s castle on Mustafar in Rogue One. Obsessed with retaining control, he used this as a last-ditch attempt to manipulate Vader into organising an audience with the Emperor so as to recognise his achievements, despite his great fear of the mysterious Dark Lord. Even after being choked by the Force, knowing that he was still in charge of the Death Star’s operations brought a beaming smile to his face. He met his end (choking on his own aspirations!) at the Battle of Scarif, where Tarkin deployed the Death Star to eliminate the Empire base before the plans were extracted by the Rogue One Rebels. Krennic was ultimately killed by his obsession; somewhat poetic! I guess you now know why there was an empty chair at the joint chief meeting in A New Hope.

2. Grand Admiral Thrawn

“To defeat an enemy, you must know them. Not simply their battle tactics, but their history, philosophy, art”.

His name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo. Who? More commonly known as Grand Admiral Thrawn (the blue-skinned, red-eyed Chiss who made his debut in season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels), ultimate commander of the Chimaera . He was the only alien within the Empire’s chain of command that was exclusively made up of humans. He is THE master of strategy, tactics and war through the deconstruction of his enemies’ art. Art?! Thrawn’s obsession was based on the notion that in order to truly defeat one’s enemy, one must be mindful of the importance of understanding an enemy’s culture, art and philosophy, allowing him to delve into the psyche of the people he wished to destroy. Being a brilliant military strategist earned him countless victories over smugglers, spies, pirates and that pesky Rebellion. Because of his successes in utterly wiping out his opponents, Thrawn was not known to the rebellion at large, something he used to his advantage: “I will start my operations […] and pull the rebels apart piece by piece. They will be the architects of their own destruction”.

To gain access to the Empire, Thrawn faked his exile and bamboozled Stormtroopers into taking him before the Emperor (although his true purpose was to deduce the Empire’s potential might as an ally in combating the impending doom emanating from the Unknown Regions –theorised to be the threat of Snoke!). Thrawn’s ingenuity and tactical prowess caught the attention of the Emperor as well as his knowledge of the Unknown Regions (a dangerous and unchartered area of space where the Emperor believed to be the location of secret discoveries of the dark side). Thrawn’s knowledge was in part used to travel there, where the Empire’s remnants re-organised into the First Order.

His calm and collected demeanour, as well as his suave and sophisticated mannerisms masked his ambition and ruthlessness: “I do not require glory, only results for the Emperor”. The obsession with total annihilation of his enemies makes him very dangerous and his ultimate future is yet to be determined (season 4 of Star Wars: Rebels will map that out). But, where he has efficient and effective tactical precision, brilliant military prowess and considerable skill in hand-to-hand combat in the bucket loads, he has a great gap: political astuteness (believing it not to necessary in his attempt of perfecting the art of war). He therefore lost out on #1 to someone who had the entire package…

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1. Grand Moff Tarkin

The measuring stick for all Imperial Officers to follow. The poster boy! The perfect blend of ambition, ruthlessness, tactical and military prowess and arrogance which allowed him to shape his legacy within the Galactic Empire. Born into a wealthy family on Eriadu, Wilhuff Tarkin from the age of 11 was sent on his own into the untamed Carrion Plateau at months at a time to hone his predatory skills. To Tarkin, respect, discipline and obedience were of the utmost importance, and he learnt that everything could be taken away from him in a blink of an eye, even if he had spent a lifetime trying to obtain it. Life to Tarkin was a constant struggle for survival.

As a young man, his devotion to service and loyalty meant that he (on the advice of his mentor, Naboo politician Sheev Palpatine) pursued a path in both law enforcement and government. During the Clone Wars, he served as a Republic Captain under Jedi Master Even Piell. He was captured by Separatists after the Battle of Murkhana and taken to Lola Sayu, home to the impenetrable prison known as the Citadel (designed to hold renegade Jedi), only to be rescued by Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Ashoka Tano. Tarkin was always sceptical about the Jedi fronting the Republic forces: “I find their tactics ineffective. The Jedi Code prevents them from going far enough to achieve victory, to do whatever it takes to win”.

At the birth of the Empire, Tarkin was one of its strongest supporters and helped consolidate control through the use of ruthless tactics, overseeing mass arrests and executions. Tarkin was elevated to Grand Moff (the Empire’s first) and became regional Governor of the Outer Rim after uncovering a conspiracy involving political dissidents in a “Route 66”-like team-up with Darth Vader. As Grand Moff, he did not tolerate failure and often had ineffectual officers executed. He also became one of the only people to have correctly deduced the identity of Vader.

After being suitably impressed with the successful demonstration of the destructive power of the Death Star as it devastated the Holy City of Jedha, Tarkin (with his chilling smirk) utilised his political astuteness and immediately assumed complete authority of the battle station, despite the boisterous protests of Director Krennic. He thereafter developed a simple and brutal philosophy: fear of the Death Star’s planet killing super-weapon would suppress all resistance to the Empire. Tarkin demonstrated his cold and calculating mannerisms by blowing up Alderaan to demonstrate its “full power”, despite learning the location of the Dantooine rebel base.

But, even with his brilliant military strategic mind and unparalleled devotion and ruthlessness to the Empire, Tarkin’s “Folly” ultimately blinded him: “Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you over-estimate their chances!” Convinced of the battle station’s invulnerability until his end, Tarkin died on the Death Star, not solely because an unknown farm boy from the back water planet of Tatooine made the impossible shot, but because of his own arrogance.

So, after learning of the “heroics” of the most influential officers of the Empire, it is now over to you! Who is your favourite Imperial, and how would you rank them? Comment below! If you enjoyed reading this, please give the Facebook page a like and follow @ThrSilverScreen on Twitter.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rogue One: A Star Wars story (2016)

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Image is property of Lucasfilm Ltd and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rogue One: A Star Wars story – Film Review

Cast:  Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmad, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whittaker

Director: Gareth Edwards

Synopsis: Telling the tale of the brave rebels who upon hearing about the Empire’s construction of a deadly weapon capable of destroying entire planets, set out on a brave mission to find and steal the weapon’s plans.

Review: “There will be no episode 7” the words of one George Lucas back in 2005, and for a long time that looked as though Lucas’s stance would not change. This is of course until Disney came calling to the tune of 4 billion dollars, and last year Episode 7 did arrive courtesy of JJ Abrams and Disney. Of course Disney had no plans to stop at Episode 7, with as well as two films to complete the new trilogy, there would be as of right now, three anthology films to come as well, giving Star Wars fans across the galaxy one new film every year until 2020.

Of course, as Lucas himself found out, making a prequel or three can be a risky endeavour, so the new creative faces behind the resurgence of Star Wars decided to pitch a story that would not touch the existing saga, but one that would sit nicely between say a couple. In the case of Rogue One, it sits between Episodes III and IV, the focus is on a rag-tag group of rebels led by Jyn Erso (Jones) who make a daring move for the plans to the lethal Death Star weapon. The franchise has boasted plenty of great action down the years, but rarely have they ever felt like it was truly Star WARS. Well enter director Gareth Edwards and writers Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy who really put the war in Star Wars and then some!

Edwards proved he could handle action well like he did in 2014’s Godzilla reboot, and here he demonstrates his considerable talents once again. The action particularly in the third act is utterly compelling and just brilliant to watch in all of its glory. It’s almost like Saving Private Ryan, but in Space! Much like what Abrams did with Awakens, the world Edwards has also created just looks and feels like Star Wars, with a few familiar faces in there brought incredibly to life by the wonder that is CGI but of course some new characters, all of whom are compelling to watch, but some are more developed than others. The cinematography too is tremendous, and much like Awakens, there is a great emphasis on the use of practical sets, and not relying on Green Screen, bonus points if you can spot the use of a London Underground station as an Imperial base!

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Image is property of Disney.

Jones is excellent as Jyn Erso, a character who has had a difficult past, but after a big discovery becomes personally connected with the story, she’s the lead and the most well developed, because she is a key part of the Imperial’s plans for reasons that will not be disclosed here, but there are others who absolutely shine as well. Cassian Andor (Luna) is excellent as the main support for Jyn, with Donnie Yen as a blind Rebel warrior at one with the force, and an absolute badass! Comic relief characters often come in droid shaped sizes, and this void is filled excellently by newbie K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk. Beyond these guys, the rest of the crew are a little bit light on character development, but the aforementioned trio certainly aren’t. On the flip side there’s one key new villain in Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic, almost your typical pantomime villain, who sneers at just about everyone and anything. Of course one Darth Vader makes his presence known once again, largely thanks to James Earl Jones’s booming voice and it’s an absolute joy to see one of cinema’s best ever villains back on the big screen.

Many took aim at Awakens  for being too similar to A New Hope. For sure there are some obvious visual nods and throwbacks, to please the fans, but ultimately given the poor reception of the prequels it was the safe route to have taken to launch the new trilogy. Of course Rogue One does do something similar with neat little visual nods to certain characters but by the time the enthralling third act arrives, gone are the Star Wars familiarities, it’s all out war in every sense of the word, with reminiscent shots of World War II and epic battles occurring on the beaches of this planet, and the CGI remains at a very high standard, with Michael Giacchino stepping in as a late replacement for Alexandre Desplat, delivering another superb score, the first not composed by John Williams.

For Disney, their colossal investment to take control of this franchise is certainly looking to be a wise decision, and one that is looking set to pay off big time. The studio raked in the cash following the release of Force Awakens. Although it’s unlikely that Rogue One will make the 2 billion The Force Awakens made, there’s every chance that Rogue One will make some serious cash. Right now, The Force is strong with this franchise, and the all powerful Disney machine in many ways resembles the Galactic Empire in terms of its sheer power, but Disney certainly doesn’t seem to have any plans to build a giant planet killing weapon!

This is everything the prequels should have been but really weren’t. It manages to strike a great balance between everything you know and love about this franchise, whilst also going in some exciting new directions.

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