Friday, April 8, 2016

'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' first trailer review

"This is a rebellion, isn't it? … I rebel." — Jyn Erso

Consider me impressed. That's what I think after seeing the first/teaser trailer for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."

Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story."
Like any diehard "Star Wars" fan, I always look forward to another adventure set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

Honestly, though, I wasn't pumped necessarily about "Rogue One."

Was I interested? Intrigued? Sure. But I certainly wasn't in countdown mode to Dec. 16 like some fans (I'm looking at you, Tony!).

But then I saw the teaser trailer. And man, the footage looks great. (My review starts after the page break.)

I've already been asked by a co-worker if I think fans will look forward to the fill-in "Star Wars" films such as "Rogue One" as much as they will to those in "The Force Awakens" trilogy.

"Rogue One" will perform well at the box office. Lucasfilm will have no problem making a profit. It very well might be the must-see film during the Christmas movie season.

But will fans be lining up for it? Sure — but not to the extent of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

I just don't envision "Rogue One" being a record-breaking movie, but I do expect diehard fans and nerds like yours truly, CCC contributor David Hudson and my co-worker Tony Schaffer to see it multiple times in the theater.

My concern is a simple one: That Disney/Lucasfilm potentially could oversaturate the market with "Star Wars" movies over the next several years. "Rogue One" comes out Dec. 16, just two days shy of one year from when "The Force Awakens" was released. And the temporarily titled "Episode VIII" is supposed to hit theaters Dec. 15, 2017. And so on …

With so many films coming out on such a tight schedule, it's likely audiences could start thinking "Oh, it's just another 'Star Wars' movie." And if that happens, box-office returns will suffer. Time will only tell. As Yoda would say, "Always in motion the future is."

Now about that "Rogue One" trailer review …!

The first bit of dialogue sounds like what I hear regularly when I cover felony court for the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper: "Forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest." That list of charges against the main character Jyn Erso sound quite familiar compared to the criminal histories of the frequent flyers I've covered for the last decade-plus.

But Jyn is the kind of woman who fits the bill of a Rebel spy commissioned with gathering on intel on the Death Star.

Played by Felicity Jones (better known to the cape-and-cowl crowd for playing Felicia in a very small part in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), Jyn is "reckless, aggressive and undisciplined." In other words, she's not too different from Luke Skywalker and Rey, the Skywalker-figure in "The Force Awakens" — another, er, new hope for the "Star Wars" universe.

My guess is once we see all of "Rogue One," we'll discover the title has a double meaning: It refers to the designation of the first of the elite X-Wing fighter pilots, but the name also describes who Jyn Erso is: One who is a rogue.

Jyn doesn't just have spunk and grit; she knows how to put a hurtin' on Stormtroopers (0:29-0:31). And while we don't see any lightsabers in this trailer, check out the Oriental-looking Samauri dude who also dishes out some pain (1:14-1:16).

The first look at an Imperial Star Destroyer and the Death Star (0:45-0:51) is nothing short of impressive.

This footage from director Gareth Edwards (who made "Monsters" and "Godzilla") would make George Lucas proud; the ships, Rebels and Stormtroopers look like they've stepped straight out of the original trilogy.

Let's talk about this casting!

Check out Forest Whittaker, who always delivers great performances. Judging from his costume, he appears to be the same kind of black-armored Stormtrooper and/or TIE fighter pilot seen in "The Force Awakens." (Check the right side of the screen to see similar Stormtroopers in the massive Nazi Germany-esque First Order gathering right before the Starkiller Base destroys a planetary system.) 

Is Whitaker's as-yet unnamed character an Imperial whom Jyn befriends during her spying mission? He also seems to be concerned about our main character's fate, asking her "what will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight, what will you become?"

And did you notice the spot-on casting of young Mon Mothma, the leader of the Rebellion?!? That's Genevieve O'Reilly, the Irish actress who played the same role 11 years ago in "Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Well done, Lucasfilm, well done indeed!

Like any great teaser trailer, questions abound. Who is that Imperial in the all-white uniform, a Grand Admiral perhaps?

And who is that kneeling in front of the tube overseen by Imperial guards? It sure looks like it could be The Emperor. But if that's the case, why would Palpatine, who created the Galactic Empire, be bowing to someone else — an authority figure who would demand such treatment? There's no one else with more power in the universe than Emperor Palpatine (at least from his perspective). So I suspect it's someone else entirely.

The coolest part of the trailer comes between 1:22 and 1:26 — Imperial AT-AT walkers! Yessss!

Grade: B+

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