Like millions my age, I grew up with the original Star Wars trilogy.
My brother and I watched The Empire Strikes Back a bazillion times on VHS. We had the toys, we collected the cards, we acted out scenes. In short, we lived it. Heck, I even had The Return of the Jedi on cassette. That’s right, I was happy to just listen to the movie, as if it were a podcast or something.
In 1999, when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out, I was PUMPED, but I remember the mood of the audience as we left the screening. We were so excited beforehand – there was even a guy dressed as a stormtrooper at our showing! Now we walked out of the theatre with a collective sigh. Childhood. Ruined. “Was it bad because we are older?”, we asked.
I have since confirmed that sentiment. Children under the age of 12 love the prequels, in some cases even more than the original trilogy.
For adults, the prequels suffered badly because a) at heart, they are basically kids movies and b) they remove the mystery and thus soul of the original trilogy c) technically, they are worse films (not by a lot, but enough to matter).
We know Anakin will become Vader, the fun part is meant to be the how. But in telling the how, much of the mystery and allure of the character also disappeared.
Did we really want to see Vader as a snotty teen hitting on Padme, and telling her that she was different from sand, which is so rough and coarse? I sure didn’t.
Rogue One can (and will) sidestep these issues by telling a separate but related story. And although it is commonly referred to as a ‘spinoff’, there is no doubt that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is truly a prequel.
The story of Rogue One takes place in-between the time of Episode III and Episode IV. It tells the story of Jyn Erso, who leads a group of rebels to steal the plans to the Death Star. As we know, they will succeed, and this will lead directly to the events of Episode IV.
The main question I have is “is it a suicide mission?” Part of me says no way, Disney would never allow that. Another part of me hopes the ending is dark. After all, the best Star Wars film to date was the darkest (Empire, no question).
Rogue One will feature lots of new faces, which will help it break from the disastrous prequel trilogy. The protagonist Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), for example, is totally new. Also new is the Imperial Military’s Director of Advanced Weapons Research, Orson Krennic. He’s played by the fantastic Aussie actor, Ben Mendelsohn.
Yet there will also be some old faces to anchor the film to the Star Wars universe. Mon Mothma (Genevieve O-Reilly) and Bail Organa ( Jimmy Smitts) Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and, of course, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) are all returning.
The making of Rogue One hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. An early cut of the film apparently received a negative test screening and needed “more fun”, and the film went through four weeks of reshoots.
The lucky few who got a first glimpse, have praised the film’s action, story and characters. Here are some gushing tweets following the premiere:
ROGUE ONE had me from the opening to the very end. Incredible action mixed with a script fans are going to love. Going to make people happy.
— Steven Weintraub (@colliderfrosty) December 11, 2016
People worried about #RogueOne not being a gritty war film need not worry. It's intense, relentless. You can practically taste the grit.
— Anthony Breznican (@Breznican) December 11, 2016
Perfect Felicity Jones an action heroine I would follow into space battle any day, in a film full of great hero turns #rogueone
— jen yamato (@jenyamato) December 11, 2016
Star Wars fans will be very happy with #RogueOne. It's fun, action packed, doesn't feel neutered by reshoots. Donnie Yen and K2so standouts.
— Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) December 11, 2016
Premiere tweets aren’t always the best metric, but we can safely say that things are looking up for Star Wars movies.
J.J Abrams’ recent The Force Awakens was met with critical acclaim, and was the first step in safeguarding the future of the franchise. In addition, Disney is planning Han Solo and Boba Fett prequels, er, I mean spin-offs. And episodes VIII and IX are in the pipeline too.
My prediction is that Rogue One will be a success because of its duplicity; it will simultaneously stand alone as a film and still retain elements of the old Star Wars’ magic.
Oh, and no Jar-Jar.