“Star Wars” fans haven’t even come down off of the high of “The Force Awakens'” arrival on home video this Tuesday, but Lucasfilm is already sounding the alarm again. With adoration for “Episode VII” still gripping much of the Internet, the teaser for an all-new film set in the Star Wars universe has been unleashed, and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” looks unlike anything we’ve ever seen come from a galaxy far, far away.
This five-alarm teaser may only last 90 seconds, but it is positively packed with awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping moments that reveal the narrative thrust of director Gareth Edwards’ film and give us a brief glimpse of the crew of scoundrels, pilots and rebels we’re all about to fall hard for. Pretty much every moment in this look at “Rogue One” is worth pumping a fist or shedding a tear over — but here are the nine that got our attention.
Jyn Erso: Rebel
As was implied by her front-and-center position in the first “Rogue One” group shot, Felicity Jones character Jyn Erso is unquestionably the lead of this film. Erso’s been up to no good — “forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, resisting arrest” — and we get to see just how mean the galaxy’s streets have made her in a badass sequence where she single-handedly takes out a squad of stormtroopers. Then she utters a phrase that we’ll definitely be seeing in fan art and t-shirts all year: “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”
Mon Mothma In Charge
The original “Star Wars” trilogy was light on female representation, but Mon Mothma’s brief scene in “Return of the Jedi” left a mark. Caroline Blakiston’s performance brought a level of attention-grabbing gravitas to the role that made Mon Mothma a staple of expanded universe stories for decades. Thankfully, those thirty powerful seconds of screentime in “ROTJ” have led to Mon Mothma getting even more of a role in “Rogue One” — a role we didn’t know about until a slightly younger version of the character popped up in this teaser. While it’s not been confirmed yet, this looks like Genevieve O’Reilly, who played Mon Mothma in deleted scenes from 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith.” If that’s true, then that’s some sharp continuity.
“Rogue One” tells the story of the group of rebels that steal the Death Star plans, you know, the ones that Leia shoves into R2-D2’s memory at the top of 1977’s “Star Wars.” Because this movie is positioned in the moments right before the first “Star Wars,” it includes a lot of familiar elements. Mon Mothma’s one, as are all of the Rebel uniforms (those weird helmets and black vests!). The Death Star is, of course, another, and knowing how deadly the station is in “A New Hope” only makes its ominous introduction in this teaser more chilling.
In addition to seeing Imperial weaponry, we also get to see what may be this film’s resident evil Imperial officer, played by Ben Mendelsohn. The acclaimed actor, most recently seen turning in a tormented performance in Netflix’s “Bloodline,” stands in a commanding yet reserved pose. Decked out in an intimidating admiral’s uniform, we later see Mendelsohn’s unnamed Imperial marching towards the shore of a battlefield, wading through dead stormtroopers.
Back In Black
Every “Star Wars” film has to have its own variant on the classic stormtrooper armor. “Empire Strikes Back” had snowtroopers, “Return of the Jedi” had scout troopers, “Force Awakens” had every kind of new trooper you could imagine. “Rogue One” keeps that tradition alive with the introduction of the first all-black stormtrooper, one with a more angular and elongated helmet. TIE fighter pilots have been clad in black from the get go, but stormtroopers? This is an action figure we can’t wait to add to our collection.
Jones’ Jyn Erso is the only character we get introduced to by name in this teaser; other members of the cast — including Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker and Jiang Wen — all get intense shots in this teaser, but their names and roles remain a mystery. While Donnie Yen’s character is equally unknown, we get to see him do a tad bit more than the rest when he turns the tables on a stormtrooper using only a stick and lightning fast moves. Yen’s one of the preeminent martial artists around and has appeared in dozens of Hong Kong martial arts films over the past three decades, including the blockbuster “Ip Man” franchise.
So far, “Rogue One” looks to be the first Star Wars film to not prominently feature the Jedi in any way. Our core team are all, theoretically, not Force users and the villains, so far, look like they’re all Imperials. And then… we get a flash of cloaked figure entering a room guarded by two crimson-colored Imperial Guards. These guys have so far only appeared alongside Emperor Palpatine, popping up in “Return of the Jedi” (similar looking guards clad in blue appeared alongside the would-be Emperor in “Revenge of the Sith” as well). So far, we’ve been led to believe that where there are guardsmen, there’s also an Emperor. Is Palpatine in that cloak? Could Ian McDiarmid make one more appearance as everyone’s favorite cackling lightning-thrower?
“Rogue One” has been touted since day one as a Star Wars war movie, and this one scene nails that tone unlike any previous film in the franchise. We get ground troops — including what appears to be Jyn Erso and Diego Luna’s character — charging a fleet of marauding AT-ATs. We saw how poorly the Rebels initially did against AT-ATs when they had the cover of snowspeeders, so this battle, where one side is totally unprotected, looks outrageously intense.
Jyn Erso: Imperial?
The trailer closes on Forest Whitaker’s narration, wherein he asks, “If you continue to fight, what will you become?” Then we see Erso, clad in the black armor of what looks like an Imperial TIE fighter pilot, turn to the camera with a stone cold expression on her face. Will Erso turn to evil? Is she undercover? The great thing about “Rogue One” is that every outlandish theory is possible; this movie is a one-off thing, and there’s no “Rogue Two” in the works. The film could easily end with Erso going rogue against the Rebels or the entire crew getting wiped out. This film’s story was already continued in 1977’s “Star Wars,” so anything can happen. And that’s exciting.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens on December 16, 2016.
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