Rogue One: A War Story

    We are once again so very close to the release of the next big Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla), the film stars Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Inferno) and Diego Luna (Milk, Elysium).

    There is a massive anticipation for the film, an understatement I know, but this specific anticipation is unlike that of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    Shortly after the announcement of Rogue One, it was made quite clear that the film would be different from the main series. Then, after Gareth Edwards was named as director, it was revealed the film would be a war film set in the Star Wars universe.

    Ever since these reveals, fans have been wondering what this is going to look like and if the film will be as good as the main series (prequels excluded of course).

    As we get closer to the release date, questions regarding the quality of the film are flying around faster than ever. But all of these questions circle back to one overarching question.

    Will this new type of Star Wars work?

    A War Film

    One of the stars of the film, Diego Luna recently said in an interview “…I think of all the Star Wars films released so far, Rogue One is the most real one…”

    From nearly the beginning, Rogue One has been advertised as a gritty war film, a story of normal people who live in the Star Wars universe.

    So what will this look like? Yes, war is very much a part of the other Star Wars films, but it’s never the focus. The main series instead follow characters who are fighting the battle between the Light Side and the Dark Side.

    Rogue One will follow a band of rebel soldiers fighting to prevent the Empire from completing their super weapon, which would see the end of their rebellion.

    Soldiers. And where will you find soldiers? In battle.

    Until this point, Star Wars has only shown portions of battles and never from the perspective of a common soldier. As we’ve all seen in various war films, when you get down to that level, everything becomes more real and intense.

    How will this affect a Star Wars film? Well naturally it will make it more realistic, and by that I mean it won’t be as much of a “fantasy”.

    I think showing this grittier side of Star Wars will not only be interesting, but also successful. Star Wars has an embedded fan base and Rogue One is coming out merely a year after the smash hit, The Force Awakens. A war film set in the Star Wars universe could be quite refreshing and bring a new view to this iconic film series.

    Character & Journey

    Rogue One will be the first Star Wars film to not follow the Skywalker family. As of right now, the main character Jyn Erso has no relation to any character that we know of.

    Jyn, portrayed by the lovely Felicity Jones, is a former criminal who joins the Rebel Alliance after her long absent father sends a transmission to the rebels.

    Based off of that description, it makes the film sound much more like you’re common action or spy movie. But of course this isn’t just an action movie. This is a Star Wars movie.

    There are certain themes and character arcs we expect from a Star Wars film, such as redemption and discovering who one truly is. But those elements won’t necessarily be present in Rogue One.

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    Perhaps the biggest theme in Star Wars is redemption. Current speculation would suggest there might not be a ton of redemption at the end of Rogue One.

    However, if you’ve seen the last trailer released a few weeks ago, the opening bit could actually suggest a strong sense of redemption. Despite the fact we know approximately how the film will end, the connection between Jyn Erso and her father is familiar to Star Wars fans.

    If indeed the theme of redemption is apparent in Rogue One, it will be a nice element to tie the film in with the rest of the franchise. Because as much as Rogue One looks to be a different kind of Star Wars story, redemption is what gives this film series that extra “it” factor and attracts such a large audience.

    Music

    In case you didn’t know this, you might want to sit down. And brace yourselves.

    Ready? Okay.

    Rogue One will be the first Star Wars film NOT scored by the legendary John Williams.

    Now you might be thinking this is something along the lines of heresy or a criminal offense, but let’s think about this for a minute.

    Again, this film has been described as a gritty war film. John Williams’ scores, while epic, are not necessarily the most fitting for a war film. Yes, the iconic soundtracks are massive parts to some of the greatest scenes in the franchise, but unless Lucasfilm is hiding a gigantic secret from the entire world, there aren’t going to be any lightsaber duels. And therefore, those epic pieces of music we all love, aren’t super necessary.

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    Instead, Michael Giacchino will score Rogue One. Originally, Alexandre Desplat was going to score the film, but Giacchino recently replaced him.

    Now if you’re worried about the score, don’t be. Giacchino has scored some great films, such as Star Trek (2009), Up, and Doctor Strange. He’s a great composer and I have no doubt his score for Rogue One will be superb.

    But I think the question is, what will a Star Wars film be like without a John Williams score? Giacchino’s soundtrack may very well be great as a film score, but will it fit with Star Wars?

    It will be interesting to watch a Star Wars film without the usual feel and mood John Williams has created with the first seven films.

    Michael Giacchino is a great composer, having won an oscar for his work on the film Up. He has also won three Grammy’s and been nominated for two Emmy’s. His style is very unique and recognizable. It’s a different direction, but Giacchino’s music could work very well with this new kind of Star Wars.

    I am excited to see how the film unfolds in this regard, as music is such a vital piece of what makes the audience engage in the story being told.

    Conclusion

    The trailers for Rogue One have been impressive and the visuals are incredible. From the footage we’ve seen, the film seems to fit with the new mold J.J. Abrams created with The Force Awakens. Gareth Edwards continues to use practical effects and real locations over CGI and sound stages.

    The story is of a different kind, but still familiar to us. We know the context around the story and understand its relevance to the rest of the franchise. It’s a great place to start in regards to spin off films.

    The hype for this film will only grow as the release date draws closer. The discussion on whether or not this film will be successful will also heat up.

    Personally, I am quite excited for Rogue One and to see a grittier story told in the Star Wars universe.

    What about you? Are you excited for this different kind of Star Wars? Or do you think the new format will falter?

    Let us know what your thoughts and observations are. And in mid-December we can all go see the film and answer all of these questions ourselves.

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    • Connor Campbell

      Screenwriter

      Connor Campbell is a writer/director, who lives in Calgary, Canada.

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