While Marvel continues to expand on its own cinematic universe and Warner Brothers struggles with their own after the critical disappointment that was “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Lucasfilm and Disney look confident in furthering the adventures of the “Star Wars” franchise with its first ever live action spin-off, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” And after months of anticipation, its first trailer was finally unveiled on Good Morning America, and it looks to tell a different and darker tale than the average “Star Wars” movie.
This teaser trailer primarily serves to introduce us to Jyn Erso, someone whom the Rebel Alliance sees as a criminal as they list off her crimes which include aggravated assault and resisting arrest among others. The way Jyn sees it, this is a rebellion against the evil Empire and she is rebelling. Hence, a new “Star Wars” hero (or antihero in this case) has been born and already begun to burn into the minds of fans everywhere.
Now since this trailer’s unveiling, some fans have complained about the filmmakers’ decision to have a female be the main hero of this movie, and they treat this as if it was some sort of crime against humanity. The fact that this particular “Star Wars” movie does have a female actress in the lead role, however, helps to make it stand out from all the others which came before it. Besides, playing Jyn Erso is Felicity Jones who more than held her own opposite Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.” In that movie she played Jane Wilde, Stephen Hawking’s wife, who forced her husband to stay strong even as motor neuron disease made him lose control over his body. Now those who saw “The Theory of Everything” should have no doubt that she can take on dozens of stormtroopers on her let alone infiltrate the Galactic Empire.
“Rogue One” takes place before the events of “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” and the Rebel Alliance has ordered Jyn to infiltrate the Galactic Empire to find out about a new weapon they are developing, and the teaser trailer reveals that weapon to be the first Death Star. Seeing the finishing touches being put on it kind has the same kind of effect as seeing Darth Vader’s helmet being put on for the first time in “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” in that it is very chilling.
There are some familiar elements and characters to be found throughout this teaser trailer like Mon Mothma who tries to empathize with what Jyn has gone through in her lifetime. Mon was played by Caroline Blakiston in “Return of the Jedi,” and here she is played Genevieve O’Reilly who also portrayed her in “Revenge of the Sith.” The stormtroopers are featured in their original “A New Hope” designed uniforms as well, although there are others who have on very black uniforms and look more vicious as a result. It was also great to see AT-AT walkers, those enormous machines first featured in “The Empire Strikes Back,” on display as well as they give the Rebels some major challenges to overcome.
Aside from Jones, there are other familiar actors to be found in this trailer as well. Riz Ahmed is on board as Bodhi Rook, Ben Mendelsohn co-stars as an Imperial admiral and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker looks to playa a Yoda-like character. As great an actor as Whitaker is, you have to wonder on the basis of this trailer if he is being a little too overdramatic in his delivery of dialogue. Still, there’s no doubt he will fare a lot better here than he did in another science fiction movie he appeared in, “Battlefield Earth.”
What makes the “Rogue One” trailer especially effective is in the way it sets itself apart from all the “Star Wars” movies that came before it. While it does have the feel of a “Star Wars” movie and some familiar elements, it also feels like its own thing: a separate story in the “Star Wars” universe that doesn’t feature Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. The themes of John Williams are heard throughout this trailer, but they take on a much darker tone. It should also be noted that the film score is being composed by Alexandre Desplat, and that makes this the first live action “Star Wars” movie to be composed by someone other than Williams.
Directing “Rogue One” is Gareth Edwards who first received widespread recognition for his science fiction film “Monsters” which eventually led him to helm the 2014 reboot of “Godzilla.” The screenplay is by Gary Whitta who wrote “The Book of Eli” and (gasp) “After Earth,” and Chris Weitz who worked with his brother Paul on “American Pie” and “About a Boy.” The director of photographer is Greig Fraser who is best known for his work on Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.”
On this basis of this teaser trailer, it looks like “Rogue One” fits into the “Star Wars” universe while at the same time appearing and feeling a bit different from the rest of it. As a spinoff, it will certainly need to find its own identity if it is to succeed. Either way, it will certain keep the fans busy until “Stars Wars Episode VIII” arrives in theaters in 2017.