Thursday 7 April 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Trailer Review

"What will you do when they catch you, what will you do when they break you. If you continue to fight, what will you become?"

Less just over four months after the release of the last ‘Star Wars’ film and mere days after its Blu-Ray release we are treated to a new teaser trailer for the next instalment of the franchise. It’s a pretty great time to be alive isn’t it? Unless you hate ‘Star Wars’ but in which case why are you reading this anyway?

During one of his many interviews concerning his appointment to direct the first ‘Star Wars’ anthology movie, Gareth Edwards discussed the production teams he had hired to shoot the movie, teams that had worked on films like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Black Hawk Down’. The interviewer stated that the production of this film seemed to closely resemble a war movie, wo which Edwards replied “Well it’s ‘Star Wars isn’t it?”.

That is the exact vibe I get from this teaser, ‘Rogue One’ instantly resembles a war movie. Not because of mass violence or bloodshed (that obviously won’t be found in the movie) but because it captured what is frequently referred to as the soldier’s perspective. Ground level action, oriented around a chaotic environment using mostly hand held cameras. I mean just look at that second to last shot alone as Rebel soldiers run frantically across an unknown beach, blaster fire on all sides, bodies flying through the air, the looming AT-AT walkers right ahead of them. It feels like something out of ‘Saving Private Ryan’, saturated in the elements of ‘Star Wars’.

At-AT walkersThat shot also harkens back to Gareth Edwards talent for scale. One of the things I admired the most about his ‘Godzilla’ remake was the way in which he gave such a sense of size, scope and weight to the monster and he did the same thing in his micro-budget debut ‘Monsters’ and it’s the same thing here in this shot. Another place in which it is visible is the slow reveal of the Death Star, clearly under the final stages of its construction, menacingly dwarfing a group of Star Destroyers. In fact those Star Destroyers on their own are fantastic, the CGI is absolutely implacable and completely indistinguishable from the real models used in the original trilogy.

In fact this whole trailer made the film look as if it will aesthetically resemble the 1977 movie even more so than ‘The Force Awakens’ did (which makes sense as this film takes place much closer to the era in which ‘A New Hope’ was set). The scenery is so incredibly detailed and so perfectly fits in with the world that was first established nearly forty years ago. I particularly enjoyed the use of the Death Star’s siren as a metronome, a constant reminder of what lies at stake and the ever present danger in this world. The fact that this trailer contains no Jedi, no force and no Lightsabres indicates that this may be a departure from the mystical side of ‘Star Wars’, a more brutal affair than what we are used to. Which is frankly brilliant s it’s basically the purpose of these anthology films, to provide opportunities to tell stories that may not feel right as an official Episode but can still be set against the backdrop of this universe.

Ben MendelsohnA number of brief character introductions instantly peaked my curiosity such as Donnie Yen’s Samurai-like Rebel or Forrest Whitaker’s war weary veteran and especially Ben Mendelson’s Imperial … what, general? Inquisitor? Grand Admiral? I can’t wait to find out. But of all of them I was deeply impressed by the introduction to Felicity Jones’ character Jyn Erso. Sadly some less than educated folk have already complained about the fact that a ‘Star Wars’ movie is set to debut its second female lead (god forbid a ‘Star Wars’ movie have a strong female character!). Honestly though there are currently seven films in this franchise and when you think about the gender ratio of each lead it currently stands at 6 to 1, I think we can afford to have another.

But even without that factor I still don’t care because she just seems like a highly interesting character. Whereas Rey came from humble origins Jyn appears to be more of a loose cannon and somewhat morally ambiguous. Then at the end we see her in Imperial armour, so what does that mean? Is it part of her infiltration of the Empire of behalf of the Rebel Alliance or does she actually end up betraying our group of heroes? It’s fun to be able to speculate again isn’t it?

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