On Friday night, Lucasfilm screened just under 30 minutes of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the media in attendance. (I was not in attendance for that event, but I saw the same footage earlier this week and I’m now allowed to write about it, so here we go.)
The footage consists of maybe the first 15 minutes of the film, followed by two additional sequences, then a sizzle reel, totaling about 28 minutes in all. If you’re worried about spoilers, the reason Lucasfilm only showed what they did is because they want to prevent spoilers from leaking. So in other words, even with what I saw, I don’t really know any spoilers. So, onward we go…
As you’ve probably heard by now, Rogue One does not sport the traditional Star Wars crawl, instead it starts with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….,” then just starts. (Which, to be honest, is a little jarring because our brains have been conditioned to hear the theme music and see a crawl after we see that.) And the score – which isn’t John Williams this time; Michael Giacchino has the honors – presents something different, yet at times feels familiar.
When the film starts, we are taken to young Jyn Erso’s home world where Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic (along with some Death Troopers, which all make a weird sound when communicating) has come for Mads Mikkelsen’s Galen Erso. As it turns out, Galen Erso holds the key to making the Death Star operate through his knowledge of kyber crystals. After a scuffle, Galen is taken away while young Jyn escapes. Eventually, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) rescues the young girl then says, “We have a long ride ahead of us.” After this, we see the Rogue One title card.
The story jumps forward in time to right before the events of the original Star Wars. We meet Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an intelligence officer for the Rebel Alliance who, we learn quickly, can be ruthless if he or the Rebellion is in jeopardy. So here’s the basic gist of the story:
The Rebels obviously want to learn 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). To get to Bodhi Rook, they need to get to Saw Gerrera (Gerrera and the Rebel Alliance split ways some time before; Gerrera and his army are described as a more militant version of the Rebellion). And to get to Gererra, the Rebels need – you guessed it – his old friend, a now adult Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who (a) uses an alias and (b) is currently in an Empire labor camp of some kind.
Jyn’s rescue is when we first meet K-2SO (voiced and played by Alan Tudyk) who will probably be the breakout star of this film. He’s funny, and not in a cutesy BB-8 kind of way, nor in a childish Jar Jar Binks way. K-2SO is a former Imperial enforcer driod who is now Cassian Andor’s partner in crime. During Jyn’s rescue, a defiant Jyn is thrown to the ground by K-2SO and he says, “Congratulations, you’ve been rescued.” In a later scene, a Stormtrooper, thinking K-2SO is still an imperial droid and that Cassian and Jyn are his prisoners, asks K-2SO where the prisoners are being taken. Doing a horrible job at improvising, K-2SO says, “Um, well, I’m going to imprison them in prison.”
We also meet Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior who is also Force sensitive. He’s described as a “Guardian of the Whills,” which is a nice callback to the earliest drafts of George Lucas’ Star Wars which were titled, Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills. See, everything is connected!
Anyway, there are a couple of minor surprises I won’t spoil. (The footage did not show anything involving Darth Vader.) But, overall, the movie does a nice job of feeling like the world of the original Star Wars. It’s fun just to see a Stormtrooper again and that iconic Stormtrooper voice. When we see the Rebel base on Yavin, I’ll admit it’s difficult at times to pay attention to the dialogue because I found myself just looking around the screen for all the little details, because it’s just so weird to be back.
Of course, it’s certainly not enough to have any real opinion of the film as a whole yet, but it’s a taste. We just have to wait a couple more weeks for the whole thing.
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