The teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the first film in the Star Wars Anthology spin-off series – landed today, and left those wondering if Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens was a fluke in no doubt that everyone’s favourite franchise was well and truly back.
I already penned a Crystal Ball feature on potential future Star Wars Anthology instalments, but the teaser for Rogue One got me so intrigued, I’ve found myself compelled to write this follow-up article as if I were the victim of a Jedi Mind Trick.
The new teaser doesn’t do much more than hint at the basic “Ocean’s Eleven in space” plot of Gareth Edwards’ film (it is a TEASER, after all), but even so, there’s still quite a bit to unpack here, so join me as we plot a course for spoilers and make the jump to lightspeed!
5. Our girl has a name (and a backstory)
Since the news first broke that Felicity Jones would be taking on protagonist duties in Rogue One, everyone has been wanting to know who the Oscar-nominated actress will be playing.
Well, it turns out she’s stepped into the boots of Jyn Erso, a rebellious (they REALLY lean on that part) young woman who’s roguish charm has already seen her drawing comparisons to king scoundrel of them all, Han Solo.
It appears Jyn has a bit of a history of disobedience, but as it’s criminal activity mostly directed the Empire’s way, it’s easy to see why she’s been drafted in by the Rebel Alliance for their latest do-or-die mission.
Luckily for her, we also get to witness her in action, and it’s clear she has more than what it takes in the Kicking-Stormtrooper-Ass department.
4. The Galaxy Far, Far Away is still a small, small place
While it was undoubtedly fun to get a sneak pick at new characters like Forest Whitaker’s armour-sporting veteran and Ben Mendelsohn’s cold looking Imperial officer, the real thrill of this trailer was seeing familiar faces from the original Star Wars trilogy make an appearance.
Hardcore fans will recognise Rebel Alliance leader Mon Mothma, played here by Genevieve O’Reilly (reprising a role that mostly ended up on the cutting room floor in Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), and then there’s that black cloaked figure seen kneeling in the presence of the Emperor’s red guards – could a cameo by a certain asthma-plagued dark lord be on the cards…
3. The Death Star is brand-spanking new
Thanks to the official Lucasfilm synopsis, we already knew that Rogue One is set shortly before A New Hope, and that it revolves around Jyn and her plucky band of Rebels stealing the Death Star plans used to great effect by Luke Skywalker and co. in that film.
What we didn’t know is that the moon-sized battle station is only newly minted when Rogue One kicks off. Seriously, we literally see the giant laser beam being packed in like some kind of gigantic pimento of death.
Even knowing the eventual fate of the Death Star (spoilers: it blows up), establishing it as a brand new threat injects a decent sense of urgency into the movie’s heist plotline, and draws a nice line between the skeletal frame glimpsed in Revenge of the Sith and the fully armed and the operational super weapon terrorising the galaxy in A New Hope.
2. Forget Light Side vs Dark Side: this flick is about shades of grey
The Star Wars saga as a whole is pretty much built around internal and external struggles between good and evil, but it’s clear from the teaser alone that Rogue One will be concerning itself with a more ambiguous examination of morality.
From Jyn’s troubled past to the grittier, “in the trenches vibe” – not to mention the haunting piano arrangement of the franchise’s iconic main theme – it’s a fair bet that this won’t be a film with clearly defined “good guys” and “bad guys”.
Most tantalising of all is the final shot of the trailer, which suggests that Jyn betrays her teammates and converts to the Imperial cause – but could this be a simple case of misdirection, with our girl merely rocking a disguise?
1. Practical effects and understated CGI continue rule the day
If the Rogue One teaser does anything, it’s make one thing clear: We can all officially move on from the prequels.
Much like what was seen in The Force Awakens, the footage here seems to eschew the CGI-only environments and general visual effects overkill that marred Episodes I-III.
Instead, Gareth Edwards and his team appear to have opted for tangible (if digitally enhanced) sets, and what major effects work we do see – including the Death Star, Star Destroyers and AT-AT walkers – all jibe with the aesthetic established in the original trilogy, and gel convincingly with their surroundings.
While we’re on the subject of keeping it real, the fight scenes also seem to emphasise practical effects work and real stuntmen over CGI trickery, and the action sequences themselves look to strike a nice blend between stylised choreography and something more hard-hitting and raw.
So there you have it – five things we learned from the Rogue One trailer. There’s one more thing I didn’t cover, however, which is that the film’s 16 December 2016 release date can’t come soon enough!