Each year Star Wars fans are brought to a fever pitch with Star Wars Celebration. Last year we all were all ready to explode with the impending arrival of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is a tough act to follow. While it that kind of excitement is probably impossible to match, that didn’t stop Disney, Lucasfilm, and Gareth Edwards gave it the ol’ Wookiee try with the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Celebration Reel.
Immediately we see what are presumably Rebel soldiers entrenched and bombarded by explosions. It evokes the same feelings as classic war films like Saving Private Ryan and we instantly know Edwards is giving as a new kind of Star Wars. Faces painted with pain. Dark horizons. Soldiers and citizens held under the white armored boot of oppression. This is the state of the galaxy at the zenith of the Galactic Empire. The galaxy is burning.
We see familiar aliens and droids to remind us that though this is a new story it is still quintessential Star Wars. Then, to hammer it home that we’re still in a galaxy far, far away Warwick Davis reminds us that Star Wars is a story about, above all, humanity. Jyn Erso and her team are fighting the good fight, offering a helping hand to the oppressed – even as they themselves face what seems to be certain death at the hands of the Empire.
Explosions. Warmachines. Stormtroopers we’ve never seen before. These sense of cold, hard military power radiates from every image of the Empire. For a brief instant before the camera goes out of focus we see familiar faces, familiar places. (General Dodonna, is that you? Beautiful Alderaan, are you before my eyes?)
Again, real locations. Again, practical effects. Again, Star Wars has a physical presence on screen. As Jyn runs across frame with explosions surrounding her we wonder about the small carrying case clutched in her hand – could those be the elusive plans to the Death Star? A blitz of new faces, some human, some alien, and some hidden behind masks stream before our eyes. A lone Rebel stumbles in the rain. Jungles and beaches instantly recall real world conflicts like Normandy and Vietnam. The galaxy is in a bloody struggle for its very soul.
Through it all Rebel soldiers hold fast to hope, laughing in the face of danger and our new hero, Jyn Erso, utters the iconic words: “May the Force be with us.”
Well, I don’t know about you – but I’m ready to go home again. I’m ready to rebel. Lucasfilm has got me very near as pumped as I was last year, but a single question lingers: At the heart of the Empire, in its blacked core, there lingers one man who looms like a shadow over everything we see. Where is Darth Vader?
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story lands in theaters December 2016.
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