It’s long been said that this December’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is going to be different from the previous films released. Most notably, it is the first live-action installment in the series to be set outside of the main Skywalker family saga (and may not have a text crawl), kicking off the standalone anthology line of movies. Additionally, Rogue One is going to bring the tone of a gritty war drama to the galaxy far, far away, contrasting from the classic space opera feel of the numbered episodes. The marketing campaign for the project has done a great job hinting at this aesthetic, highlighting epic set pieces that could be some of the grandest in the franchise.
Another aspect of Rogue One that sets it apart is the fact that for the first time, none of the heroes will be able to use the Force to even the odds in a battle. Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe obviously believes in the hokey religion, but he is no Jedi. With Obi-Wan Kenobi in hiding on Tatooine and Luke Skywalker still on his uncle’s moisture farm, the Rebel Alliance is going to have to rely on hope and pure determination to come out on top. Star Diego Luna enjoys this element about Rogue One and thinks it will lead to something special.
In an interview with Variety Fair Mexico (hat tip Star Wars News Net), Luna discussed his approach to portraying his character Captain Cassian Andor, the Rebellion intelligence officer who has a role in recruiting Jyn Erso:
“I wanted to make my character more natural and realistic. Although people expect the tone of the film to be fantasy, it actually is quite the contrary. It’s an intimate story that feels real. I think of all the Star Wars films released so far, Rogue One is the most real one, which is about the people. The characters are very similar to us. They are heroes with no powers. What they have is a conviction and desire to change reality.”
Rogue One will of course delve into fantasy with planet-destroying super weapons, X-wing dogfights, and Darth Vader, but it certainly has the potential to be the most “grounded” Star Wars film yet. With the focus being on protagonists without any unique powers or abilities, the underdog persona that’s defined the Rebel Alliance should only be more evident. Much of the imagery shown in the promotional materials has been reminiscent of something out of Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, so it only makes sense that the core ensemble will also emulate those films. This isn’t a story about an everyman (or, in Rey’s case, everywoman) learning that they’re destined for greater things. Rogue One is all about desperate people fighting to save the galaxy from an opponent that clearly has them outmatched. That dynamic should be interesting to watch.
It’s also encouraging to see Luna refer to Rogue One‘s narrative as “intimate,” meaning that hopefully the movie won’t get lost in a sea of special effects and CGI. Spectacle is to be expected in the tentpole (and it should deliver in spades in that department), but Star Wars is at its best when it’s placing more of the spotlight on the characters and their relationships with each other. Rogue One has a compelling emotional hook in the form of Jyn and her father Galen, which on-paper sounds like one of the most engaging stories the series has told. Chances are that the friendships that form between the team members will also be fun to see develop as everyone comes together to accomplish a common goal. Friends and family are two universal themes that Star Wars has incorporated time and time again to great success, so ideally director Gareth Edwards was able to tap into that for his film.