Sooooo, Star Wars, we’re going back in time again, eh? We’ve had a lot of that, to varying degrees of success (in whatever way you want to define success, be it financial, artistic, or otherwise). Whoever would have guessed that way back, oh a million years ago or so, when old Obi Wan uttered those hallowed words, “For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.
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Before the dark times. Before the Empire…” that we would get so much backstory on the mysterious lore he alluded to.
I’m not sure anything has given me the chills and feelings of awe like Kenobi’s monologue to a wide-eyed, wondrous Luke. And it literally was wonderful: the wonderment of the unknown, the what-ifs, the pondering of Star Wars’ past as he mysteriously hinted at a bygone era of mysticism.
The stuff of legends, indeed….
Alas, now we have Rogue One, the first standalone movie of the new era. Yep, we’re going back in time again folks; but this time, we’re not going back to a more ‘civilized age’. No, this time, we’re going right back to where we started – where we started, mind you, to the beginning of the fans’ very own timeline, a time we’re intimately familiar with.
We’re going back to the true birth of hope…and the strengthening of a mighty Empire.
There’s always a risk that what the filmmakers present doesn’t match what we ourselves envisioned for past events. (Yes, I know, many of you are staring at the elephant I just led into the room, the ole’ Prequels.) As much as modern day audiences are more critical than ever, and expectations for what a film should be are at an all-time high, Star Wars’ success is still largely reliant upon our own suspension of disbelief, our own imaginations. Will Rogue One be everything you want it to be? Maybe. Totally! Probably not. Perhaps…? Depends on what you envision the events surrounding the capture of the Death Star plans to be; depends on what you perceive the rise of the Empire to entail; depends on how much you’re willing to allow Gareth Edwards’ own vision to enrapture you. As the years and sequels/prequels roll onward, I’ve learned to cast a lot of my preconceived notions out the window.
But this new Rogue One trailer, just…wow. It kinda nails it for me.
And think of this: as much The Force Awakens was hyped to be the return to our Star Wars, Rogue One is technically even closer to that premise. Its time frame places it right outside the front door of the OT (Old Trilogy – yes, I know most of you know what OT means, but let’s accommodate the newbs, shall we?). It ain’t 30 years before or after Luke Skywalker’s prime. Yep, it’s standing right there, on the doormat of A New Hope. Rogue One will most likely be the closest film in the timeline we ever get to the holy trilogy. In fact, since its concerned directly with the events of A New Hope, I’ll pose that it’s Star Wars 3.5, a prologue of sorts.
As for this new trailer, I love the universe I’m witnessing. It evinces a universe dense with Star Wars “stuff.” Classic x-wing fighters, tie fighters, machinery, storm troopers, weaponry, etc. etc. This matters. It really does. It’s the used and beat up universe we grew to love, a galaxy still licking its wounds after the Clone Wars. The environments the trailer displayed appear to be denser, grittier, and at the same time even more fantastical than those I saw in Episode 7. This looks like A New Hope’s universe on steroids.
We got a few glimpses of the planet Jedha, a supposed holy land for those who believe in the force. It has a somewhat Mos Eisley look to it, but with a much larger, sprawling metropolis. There was the reveal of a tropical, almost paradisial world, Scarif, a world that shines in stark contrast to nearly every other Star Wars planet we’ve explored. And yet, despite its lush beauty, it is the rumored site for an Imperial installation that is aiding in the construction of the Death Star itself. And it is a site for battle. No time to enjoy the beach, eh, Rebels?
There were so many beautiful scenes in this trailer. The Death Star eclipse gave me chills. The x-wings at night in what looked like search mode was something special. The space shots showcasing the might of the Imperial fleet were powerful. I particularly love the scene where Jyn comes face to face with a tie fighter; I can’t wait to see how that confrontation plays out. Overall, the trailer displayed some breathtaking imagery, and it wets my appetite; I’m anxious to get lost in the Star Wars universe yet again. Rogue One looks like it’s really gonna sink us into our seats.
The cast is as diverse as the environments. I love that we have the character Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker. He’s a direct tie-in, a character that fans of the Clone Wars will recognize, a grizzled veteran who’s now apparently taking a stand against the Empire as he recognizes his world is in disarray.
It’s been obvious for some time that Rogue One’s main character, Jyn Eros, played by Felicity Jones, is something of a criminal…a rogue, *ahem*. I’m very curious as to her primary motivations in this movie. Revenge? Redemption? Financial? A yearning to make a difference in the universe? We’ll see. She seems calm, cool and collected, whatever her aims prove to be.
We get Chirrut Imwe, who resembles something of a martial arts master as he seemingly annihilates a squad of stormtroopers with relative ease. He clearly has some reverence for the force, if not ability, as he utters, “All is as the Force wills it.” I’m curious to just how influential Chirrut will be to the other characters, as a mentor or ally, and if he’s directly involved with stealing the plans to the Death Star. His backstory should prove to be very interesting, as well. As the picture above suggests, he clearly has a disdain for stormtroopers…
As imposing as security droid K-2SO is, he may also have been emplaced for some levity. When he encounters Jyn, he promises not to kill her, for his captain “likes her.” Another curiosity, this character. I can’t wait to see him in action: the special effects that created him, his demeanor, his role in the story, and the potential brutality he might inflict upon Imperial troops.
And speaking of Imperials, its an understatement to say it appears as though we have some formidable villains in this one. I’ve always loved Ben Mendhelsohn, and I’m really excited to see his singular presence confidently prancing around in that white officer’s uniform. He’s imposing, has an edge, and his dour gaze is at once mesmerizing and foreboding.
Oh, and there’s another villain of note. You may have heard of him. Hmm, I’ll give you a hint of him a little later in this article…
I’ve always had a hard time gauging how much a character will endear themselves to me from a trailer alone, but we definitely have been given what looks like some powerful, confident personas mixed with cast-off and misfit types of all shapes and sizes. Good! Fits what we think will be the tone, don’t you think?
As familiar as a lot of the movie’s look is, we saw a lot of things we didn’t see in the OT. Before anyone cries “Blasphemy! They didn’t have that technology or those characters in the original trilogy!” Oh, yeah? How much of earth have you seen? Some of you out there have seen a lot, I’m sure; but have you seen everything? Is it fair to assume that we didn’t see every single species, item, weapon, character, etc. in the entire galaxy in the OT? Yeah, we only saw a fraction of a fraction of a minuscule percentage of it. And heck, why not have some fun. It’s fantasy. Let’s see some new things in our old universe. Let’s give them a chance to find their place. Perhaps those awesome looking Death Troopers were a secret squad, the hidden elite lurking in the shadows while Luke, Han, and Leia ran amok among the Emperor’s troops. After all, did we see the Emperor’s Royal Guard in the Empire Strikes Back? No. (We’ll see them in Rogue One, though!) But did they exist then? Yep. I think you get what I mean.
It’s encouraging, too, that director Gareth Edwards is carrying right along with tradition, utilizing art and elements from “old school” Star Wars, as those menacing Death Trooper designs were lifted right from Ralph McQuarrie’s original concept art.
I’m really excited for Rogue One. I hope the rumor that the studio “suits” dipped their hands into it to lighten its tone aren’t true. (Sigh, they’ll never get it, will they?) There’s real opportunity here to strengthen the impact of the OT, and Star Wars as a whole. If we see, as the movie makers proclaim, the sacrifice of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, it’ll add weight to the whole darned thing. We’ll understand why Luke Skywalker is so special, cause if it takes ‘X’ amount of people to fight and die just to get the Death Star plans so that Luke can destroy it, then Luke’s path is all the more poignant and meaningful.
It’s a biggie for me is – we’ll know who our beloved heroes were fighting for. Oh, we know they fought for each other, for the Rebellion; but did we ever see much of the common man in the OT? We saw them a little, almost always on the outskirts of the story, but Rogue One looks to focus on the struggle of the guys and gals in the trenches – the no-names, gettin’ grimy and gettin’ killed. That’s who the Rebellion was fighting for. Those are the folks who all that sacrifice was for.
Rogue One appears to look as ‘Star Warsy’ as any of the 7 movies thus far, even if it’s shown from a different point of view and directed with a different style. I think it’s going to be a refreshing take on things. I think – I hope – it is exactly what its being touted as.
And then there’s this guy pictured below. Chills. Glee. Freaking out much? Oh boy, we’re gonna get Vader onscreen. How much remains to be seen, but even the mere thought of what they’ll do with Vader. Again, chills….
So there ya go. When I first pondered the standalone movies, I thought, meh, I don’t know about going back in time again. I thought we had enough with the Prequels, and the cartoons and books, the Rebels shows still to come. But Rogue One – you got me, I’m in. And it’s not going back really so much as it’s exploring the whole thing from a different perspective, from the ground up, from a different point of view. Let’s see Star Wars from the dirt. Let’s see the uglier side of the battle, the grunts and the nameless, the anonymity of noble sacrifice for a greater, more visible good.
If the movie itself holds to the tone of this latest trailer, we’re in for quite a treat, my friends. Though the story takes a little step back in time, it may make a giant leap forward in Star Wars lore.
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Jason Alan is the author of Phate: The Cosmic Fairytale, the epic fantasy novel now available through Oloris Publishing. Jason lives in Cape Coral, FL, and when not working, he’s seeking out new things to ramble about on the Star Wars Reporter, working on Phate’s sequels, or shredding his fingers on the guitar, which he plays for the progressive band, Mourning’s Hope. Come say hey! Follow Jason Alan on Twitter @JasonAlanPhate