In today’s pop culture landscape, there seems to be no shortage of high-profile franchises and cinematic universes. Marvel Studios have made 13 features, with no plans to stop anytime soon. Warner Bros and DC Entertainment are fully committed to the DC Extended Universe, with Suicide Squad expanding their world and the upcoming Justice League set to course correct any perceived faults. There are upcoming video game movies, expansions to the world of Harry Potter, and even more nerd material on television. With all of this genre filmmaking happening on such a large scale, it’s easy to forget that Disney and Lucasfilm will be producing a Star Wars film every year, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story looks to be accomplishing everything a Star Wars spin-off should.
While the episodic Star Wars Saga will continue every two years (Episode VIII, directed by Rian Johnson, is scheduled for release in December 2017), the spin-offs (“Star Wars Stories” as they are called) will fill the void in between the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren. There seems to be some major reserve amongst the nerd community when it comes to getting excited about the 2016 spin-off. Before addressing some current concerns fans are having, let’s take a look at the brand new trailer:
‘Rogue One’ Looks Amazing
So far, so good. You know what, scratch that. So far, so GREAT. All signs are pointing to Rogue One being an absolute blast at the theater. We have an incredible cast of diverse actors (Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Donny Yen, Jiang Wen, Madds Mickleson, Ben Mendleson) and a promising young director in Gareth Edwards (Godzilla). After 30 years of white men having a monopoly on the main cast of Star Wars films, we all just need to stop and appreciate that diversity is taking a main priority not only in episodic films, but here in our first spin-off as well.
Since Rogue One’s initial announcement, they have been clear what they wanted the film to be: a war film. There are crew members (specifically the cinematographer) from films such as Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty. This production design, along with Edwards’ direction, are giving us a brand new look at the galaxy we are all so familiar with. Like Abrams did with The Force Awakens, Edwards and company know that Star Wars thrives when it lives in a more grounded world, with real sets and practical effects.
We love what we are seeing in these Rogue One trailers. If there is one thing Edwards is a master at, it is giving a sense of scale. There were hardly any aerial shots of Godzilla in his 2014 film. Nearly every shot of the monster were from the perspective of a human character, from the ground up. This may seem trivial, but it goes a long way for the audience when we experience scale from a human point of view. The shots of our heroes fighting against the new AT-ACT’s give this same visceral experience. Whether it be the combat on the ground or the large-scale fights with primitive Star Wars technology, Rogue One looks to deliver as a spectacle-based blockbuster.
Alan Tudyk is voicing a humorous robot (who sounds like it will be involved in conflict). Ben Mendleson looks absolutely menacing in the villain role. Forest Whitaker is playing Saw Gerrera, giving us our first full example of what the new Disney Expanded Universe can do, having a canonical character crossover from a TV show into the films. Darth freaking Vader will have a looming presence in the film!
So why are fans worried?
Reshoots and Franchise Fatigue
There are two main reasons the movie community online are cautious about throwing their full optimism behind Rogue One. First, the ever present worry that the films major reshoots will be to the film’s detriment. There were the initial reports that the film would be undergoing massive reshoots, these rumors ranged anywhere from “shooting more action” to “half the film is different now.” Either way, fans were worried. The consensus was that the house the Mouse built was trying to make our first really Star Wars War film a little more palatable for general audiences (the ever constant “this film is too dark” worry we believe Studio Executives have about these films).
Luckily for us, veterans of the film journalism world were able to set some things straight. Entertainment Weekly tapped their sources to bring some reality to the situation and no, the film was not being recreated from the ground up. Slashfilm showed us that almost all blockbusters undergo reshoots, including our beloved The Force Awakens. I was optimistic a couple months ago, and I’m optimistic now as well.
There has been a new wrinkle in the reshoot worry though, and that would be the release of Suicide Squad. It has become known that Suicide Squad underwent big reshoots to change the tone of the film. One only needs to look at the trailer from July 2015 compared to the subsequent trailers to see a significant change in tone (from extremely dark to a much lighter fare). Audience goes are split on the Suicide Squad consensus, but there is a constant in the conversation and it is that the tone is all over the place. It is pretty apparent that forced humor and specific choices in editing are clashing against David Ayer’s original intent for the film. And that worry is still there for Rogue One.
It would not be wise to just blindly be excited for the film, but we have to give Lucasfilm the benefit of the doubt. The biggest thing going in the favor of Rogue One is Disney’s track record with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though some films are better than others, there seems to be a constant reality that Disney lets these production studios call the shots and greatness can be achieved in their partnership. I say that Disney/Lucasfilm has to fail us first before we need to be worried about their upcoming slate of films.
The second reason people may worry about Rogue One is more an overall worry for the future of Star Wars. It is the fact that we will be seeing some type of a Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future. We think this is a more substantive worry. We live in a different time than generations past do. There will be something a little less special about Star Wars when we are receiving content every year, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
A Great Time To Be A Star Wars Fan
The new episodic trilogy started off with a near perfect blockbuster. The spin-off films give us the opportunity to see more of the characters we love (Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s upcoming Han Solo film) and the opportunity to explore parts of the galaxy we’ve never seen on the big screen (there are possibilities for Knights of the Old Republic type stories). So yes, Star Wars will become a bigger franchise than it already is, and the market will start to get saturated with Star Wars material, but I say we enjoy the ride.
Who knows how long Hollywood will be obsessed with sequels and cinematic universes, who knows how long Hollywood will be obsessed with Star Wars for that matter. While we have it, I say we enjoy it. Rogue One: A Star Wars story is scheduled for release on December 16, 2016.