There are few franchises that can claim close to the same level of global cultural dominance as Star Wars. While I have mixed feelings about The Force Awakens (admittedly, J. J. Abrams had an incredibly difficult task of bridging the old with the new), I was excited by the potential of further Star Wars movies that could expand beyond the well-trod themes and tropes of the original trilogy. (The constant sense of déjà vu was probably the most frustrating part about The Force Awakens for me.) With the release of the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars Rogue One, I can gladly say I am very much looking forward to this next film.
Gareth Edwards is directing Rogue One, and that fact alone had me anticipating what the film would be like even before the trailer had arrived. Best known for the recent Godzilla movie (well worth watching), his first big achievement was an independent film called Monsters. I found both films to achieve one thing brilliantly: picking out the individual threads of small characters embroiled in titanic battles. Other films (especially war films) often attempt a similar tactic to help the audience relate to the individual characters embroiled in larger conflicts. But few directors have captured the magnitude of the scale of difference between the the conflict and the individuals caught up in it. (The recent glut of super-hero films are the antithesis: the titanic battles revolve around those individual characters).
Given my opinion of Edwards’ strength as a director, I’m really looking forward to how he will portray the role of Jyn Erso – the ‘rebel’ character at the center of the story, at least based on the trailer. The Empire is arguably at its peak power, having yet to be dealt a crushing blow by the Rebellion (the destruction of the first Death Star). Against the backdrop of such a formidable adversary, Jyn’s role might be even more desperate than that of the characters in The Force Awakens. After all, Rey and Finn had the original trilogy heroes of Han, Chewie, Luke, and Leia to look up to. But in the absence of those heroes, Jyn’s mission of trying to steal the plans to the Death Star is a daunting and hopeless task.
We have until December 16th to see Edwards’ vision of Star Wars with Rogue One. But there’s a good chance it will capture the awesome power and scale of the Empire (any by comparison the desperately tiny Rebellion) in a way we have not yet seen in a Star Wars movie.