Despite technically being a prequel – it’s set just before the events of the original Star Wars, telling how the Rebels won their first victory against the Empire and stole the Death Star plans – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story couldn’t feel further away in style and tone from Episodes I-III. There’s a level of practicality to Gareth Edwards’ film that Lucas’ prequels lacked and the general aesthetic is much closer to the rough-and-ready used future of the 1997 classic than the sheen of Naboo and Coruscant.
But that doesn’t mean the film will be ignoring the events of the prequel trilogy. Quite the opposite, in fact; although The Force Awakens was very much looking into the future, the franchise now seems a lot more comfortable embracing its past (no matter what some areas of the fandom may think of it). Genevieve O’Reilly is reprising her role as young Mon Mothma from Revenge of the Sith‘s cut scenes, Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera first appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a flashback scene is set shortly after Anakin’s turn to the dark side, tie-in book Catalyst honors the Geonosian origins of the Death Star’s designs – and, most excitingly, Jimmy Smits is back as Bail Organa.
We got our first look at Smits care of an US Weekly article, and now a new Rogue One clip has the actor in action. The scene itself shows Jyn pleading with the Rebellion’s top brass to not lay down for the Empire, but fight back. It’s not quite clear where in the movie this comes, but given how impassioned Jyn is and the presence of Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook in the background it would appear to be later on in the story, probably just before the mass assault on tropical planet Scarif (the “first victory” discussed in Star Wars‘ opening crawl).
There’s not much of Smits – just a questionable look up at the young rebelling rebel – but it’s great to see him back in the role. Organa was a key figure in the early Rebellion, working against the Empire from its inception in the Senate – until he was killed on Alderaan in A New Hope. In the Expanded Universe he was more initially pacifistic than some, including his adopted daughter Leia, only getting partially involved in the fight when the threat of the Death Star became clear. His reaction to Jyn here would suggest a similar stance in the new continuity.
That’s not the only fresh Rogue One footage we have here, however. A new TV spot, aptly titled “Hope Begins”, puts focus on the core characters’ gallant heroism, with soaring music and shows of bravery. There’s some really cool shots in there too, like the Massassi temples on Yavin IV at night lit-red by the nearby planet and X-Wings diving down into the shield around the planet Scarif. This really showcase Edwards’ skills at crafting images with a staggering sense of scale.
Rewriters/reshoots talk be damned, Rogue One‘s looking pretty awesome. Both the clip and the TV spot put real focus on the sparking of Rebellion, hopefully pointing towards the film exploring the ethos of fighting for something you believe in and the nature of war. That and epic space battles, of course.