By Jacqueline Coley
This past weekend we saw about 30 minutes of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and to put it simply this ain’t your Daddy’s Star Wars.
The footage from Rogue One started with the first 15 minutes of the film, followed by few 2-3 minutes clips from the first half, and ending with an extended trailer sizzle reel. It is not enough to judge how good the film will be, but I can tell you – without question – this is not like any Star Wars story we have ever seen. If you’re worried about spoilers, let me just say, I did get some details about the film, but I don’t KNOW anything. We reviewed an extended trailer, and though I can now make assumptions on a few plot points, I learned nothing that couldn’t garner from the current marketing of Rogue One. So here is what we saw:
The shift from the previous Star Wars films starts with the crawl – or in this case – the lack of crawl. The film begins with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….,” then we jump to a cold open. We are on a young Jyn Erso’s home world where Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) dressed all in white and shoulder to shoulder with black storm troopers – in direct contrast to the Darth Vader entrance of A New Hope – lands in an open field. Krennic is sinister yet charismatic during his interrogation of Jyn’s father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Ben Mendelsohn’s performance here is very reminiscent of Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds instantly terrifying and disarming. The Ersos, it seems, have been preparing for Krennic’s eventual discovery of their hiding place. Like this, immediately after her mother sends Jyn off with words of love and wisdom, she provokes Krennic. The skirmish results in Jyn’s escape, her mother’s death, and her father’s apprehension. Later we meet, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) who rescues Jyn and says, “We have a long ride ahead of us.” Then there is a beat, and “BAM,” the Rogue One title card fills the screen as the main theme plays.
In the next scene, we meet Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an intelligence officer for the Rebel Alliance. Cassian’s interaction with a wounded agent shows that even though he is one of the “good” guys he has no problem making a wrong decision to achieve the ultimate goal. The Rebels we learn want to know how to defeat the Death Star. To do this, they need Galen Erso’s plans. To get to Galen Erso, they need a defector named Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). When we spoke with Riz following Rogue One press conference, he mentioned how his character is not terribly smart and never intended to be caught up in a war. – “He’s just trying to survive.”
It becomes apparent that the Rebels need Jyn to get to Gerrera, who can then help them get to Galen, and ultimately destroy the Death Star. During the rebels rescue of Jyn’s, is where we first meet K-2SO (voiced and played by Alan Tudyk), who even the most casual fans will be talking about long after the credits roll. During Jyn’s rescue, she’s catapulted to the ground by K-2SO, and he cheekily says “Congratulations, you’ve been saved.” This moment pretty well sums up the character, funny, brutally honest, and lethal. ” During this same action piece, we also meet Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) a blind warrior who is also Force sensitive. He describes as a “Guardian of the Whills. Though his character is still a mystery, even in the footage we saw, one thing is for sure is Donnie Yen is going to be bad-ass – Darth Maul style bad-ass.
I did see some other things that I would say are a bit spoilerier, so I will not discuss those here. The biggest thing I walked away with is that this is a huge departure from the previous films. Rogue One strikes me as Apocalypse Now meets Mission Impossible with a little Argo on the side. Only seeing 28 minutes of a 130-minute film isn’t enough to judge it, but is sufficient to get the flavor. The flavor is new, dark and gritty and I can’t wait to have more.
Rogue One is in theaters December 16th.
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