The upcoming arrival of director Gareth Edwards’ new Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a big step for both the Star Wars franchise and fans of the legendary sci-fi series. As the first Star Wars film to stand alone from the ongoing saga that every fan knows and loves, the pressure to create something that is true to its origins and entertains in the same capacity as audiences have come to expect from the Star Wars universe is no small task to achieve.
To date, what we’ve seen of Rogue One looks particularly engaging – with rebels battling Stormtroopers in exotic tropical locales that have never before been seen in any of the Star Wars films. But as a stand alone film, differences are always to be expected and one major difference that has already been hinted at is the lack of the signature Star Wars text crawl at the start of Rogue One. While this has yet to be confirmed, Rogue One’s ability to differentiate itself from past Star Wars anthology films just might be its greatest overall strength.
This is especially true given that Edwards, his cast and crew all appear to be reverential to Star Wars lore. In a new Rogue One featurette offered by the official Star Wars UK YouTube account (see above), Edwards and co. discuss not only the sheer joy and magic of creating an entirely new Star Wars film, but also expand on the unity that exists amongst the rebels in their mission to steal the Death Star plans. Edwards explains that Rogue One takes place in very close proximity to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and that the film is very much an ensemble cast but that at the heart of it is a strong woman.
At one point early on in the featurette, Edwards laments that had he known when he was 4-years-old that he would be making a Star Wars movie one day, he would have been planning all his life for this moment. It is this sort of relaxed, scaled down simplicity and respect for very demanding subject matter that Edwards seems to bring to the entire production. Even his plot break down of Rogue One comes in the most straight forward terms possible when he points out that within the opening text crawl of A New Hope, the words “Rebel spies steal secret plans” sum up his film. The featurette feels familiar despite its obvious differences and there’s a confidence about it that doesn’t seem forced.
Of course, Disney has surely made certain to market Rogue One in this way – at least to some degree, but even with that idea in mind, there’s no denying that Edwards is in love with what he’s doing. One can’t fake being a Star Wars fan. The franchise has been around for so long and the films are so ingrained in pop culture that by this point Star Wars fans can easily spot one of their own. Edwards and his cast genuinely come off as humbled to be part of this production. That attitude alone is a very big part of creating something that connects with its viewers and effortlessly feels at home amongst the other Star Wars films – even if it’s not directly involved in the original anthology.
There’s now less than a month (as of this writing) before Rogue One hits theaters. It will be interesting to see how the film fares in comparison to last year’s blockbuster success of The Force Awakens. Though Rogue One isn’t expected to challenge The Force Awakens in terms of box office gross, there’s ample reason to believe that Gareth Edwards’ “little” Star Wars film could offer fans something completely new and enthralling.