Rogue One: The Most Pivotal Star Wars Film To Date

star-wars-rogue-one-characters-names-vehicles The very first Star Wars spinoff film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scoring big in theaters and with audiences. Despite its faults, the film is a rollicking success not just in terms of box office dollars but for its many merits. This is critically important considering that a lot was riding on this particular Star Wars film that many do not realize, at first.

Of course, with its Star Wars credentials Rogue One was bound to open huge and have its own core fan base. The question before it premiered was would it not just resonate with fans, but establish its own identity without relying (for the most part) on the central tenets of a Star Wars film: the Skywalker clan, Jedi and Sith, lightsaber duels and some overreaching multi-film storyline. Rogue One is largely self-contained with its main characters making their only appearance in a Star Wars film. So no, you won’t see Jyn Erso or K2S0 popping up in future films. That is a huge gamble for the Star Wars juggernaut since this limits its marketing potential, at least with some narrow-sighted marketing heads.

Pushing The Envelope

Furthermore, as those who have seen the film will agree, this isn’t a typical Star Wars film. There isn’t an opening crawl, the film’s tone is distinctly more mature and feels more like a war film with actual consequences and has many characters with shades of grey. Honestly, this was to the film’s benefit because this shift in tone helped set it apart from Star Wars and pushed the envelope for what can be done with Star Wars in general. At the same time, it is clearly a part of the established Star Wars lore and serves as an important link not just to the Prequel and Original Trilogies but to the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. Doing this last linkage now establishes both TV series as part of official canon.

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Storywise, the events in this film were extremely critical to the Star Wars universe. Think about it, the main story is about Rebel spies trying desperately to steal the plans to the Death Star. If they failed there would not be A New Hope. C-3P0 and R2-D2 would never have fallen into the hands of Luke Skywalker. He would never have destroyed the infernal Death Star and set off events leading to the Galactic Empire’s demise.

For these reasons, Rogue One was a huge test, a proving ground, for the Star Wars film franchise. erso-andor-and-droidBeing that it is the first spinoff that is quasi-independent of the “Saga” trilogies, there was a question if audiences and fans would accept it. If it failed either in ticket sales or not have excellent word of mouth, the fate of future Star Wars spinoffs would be in question. Of course, Lucasfilm would not abandon the spinoffs altogether, but the film studio might have only concentrated their spinoffs on established characters like Han Solo. The fact that the swashbuckling space pirate is the focus of the next Star Wars spinoffs is evidence that Lucasfilm was hedging its bet and planned on playing it safe in case Rogue One faltered.

Thankfully, Rogue One is a hit, partly because it did not play it safe while at the same time it took advantage of the rich Star Wars backstory. It’s the same formula that worked for the Star Trek spinoffs. The first one, Star Trek: The Next Generation, followed the same premise, a starship exploring the unknown except with new characters. Its success allowed for future spinoffs to try different tones, plots and characters, the best example being Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

What Lies Ahead

Now that Rogue One has proven that a Star Wars film doesn’t have to rely on established tenets to tell a riveting story that resonates with fans, what other stories can be told? After the Han Solo prequel, there is rumor that an overdue Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff will follow and at one time a Boba Fett film nearly went into production before its assigned director Josh Trank blacklisted himself with his dismal Fant4stic debacle.

dash-rendarThose films sound intriguing since they’re about popular and intriguing characters with the potential to carry their own films. However, Lucasfilm should take heed of Rogue One’s success and tell stories with new characters and situations. Or adapt popular ideas from other media. Live-action versions of Knights of the Old Republic or Shadows of the Empire would make terrific films. Perhaps, as C.S. Link suggested in his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review, a film taking place in between Episode IV and V could be done. This concept of filling in the gaps between films or trilogies can be done with several films and there are many questions about what happened after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens that are worth exploring.

rogue-one-on-the-beachRogue One: A Star Wars Story has opened up many possibilities in future Star Wars films. It passed the hurdle of not relying on classic characters and situations to tell a compelling story. And it liberally and skillfully took elements from other films and TV shows without overdoing it or aping the same story beats and characters. This is why Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the most pivotal Star Wars film for now.

José Soto

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Second Trailer For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Shows Promise

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Finally got around to watching the new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and let me say I was quite impressed!

Backing up here, I have to admit I wasn’t enthusiastic about the film when I heard about it. OK, a spinoff Star Wars film, sounds good on paper but it reeked of Disney milking the Star Wars cash cow. Not that I blame them they spent a few billion to get the property so they want their money’s worth. But after seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens I wasn’t thrilled about new Star Wars films.

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The only thing going for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was that it was a prequel that didn’t have to do with the main characters. No Skywalkers, no cute droids or Jedi. Then again Gareth Edwards is directing this, the guy who made a Godzilla movie dull. OK that last taunt there is an exaggeration, but Godzilla was kind of disappointing and went downhill after Bryan Cranston’s character was killed off.

Getting back to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I was neutral about the first spinoff film. Not even the teaser did anything to change my mind. Then I saw the new trailer today, and boy have my eyes been opened.

What is so great about this trailer is that it emphasizes the war aspect of Star Wars. It looks gritty and grounded while taking place in the beloved Star Wars universe. The characters look badass, especially the older blind man who seems to be Force adept. And they seem interesting, one of them, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), is a cool Easter egg for fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars since it proves once and for all that the animated series is canon. Now if only that grand admiral shown had blue skin. LOL But he still looks like someone not to mess with.

JynnWhat else? The ships, the fighting, the desperation, it feels so great watching all the classic ships and hardware being used in Star Wars again, plus some new stuff (hear that Force Awakens? It’s OK to use different hardware and ships) that fits well in this universe. But one thing that stands out is that for the first time since the original Star Wars, we witness the harsh, despotic nature of the Galactic Empire. The Empire looks imposing, threatening, not at all like the cardboard cut outs who can’t shoot straight. As far as this film is concerned, the Galactic Empire is at its height of power and dominion. Also, apart from the Darth Vader teaser at the end, this trailer shows that it is a true spinoff that does not rely on the usual characters or recycles stories.

So, now I’m hyped up for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is terrific because so many films this year have been disappointing. If this film delivers, hopefully the other Star Wars spinoffs will be of the same caliber.

T. Rod Jones