'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' preview footage: 5 things we've learned
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in a scene from, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." (Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Ltd./HO)
SAN FRANCISCO — If the special preview journalists saw this weekend is any indication, Rogue One is going to be a different kind of Star Wars story — and that’s shaping up to be a great thing.
Disney and Lucasfilm unveiled 28 minutes of footage Saturday night at Skywalker Ranch teasing the standalone story which involves a group of renegades who team up to steal plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction.
The film is a prequel to 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.
Director Gareth Edwards was on hand to introduce the footage, which included the opening and several scenes from later in the film.
“We’re on sacred ground here,” he said, pointing out George Lucas’ favourite seat in the theatre. Edwards also proposed that he and three other journalists could try and steal a model Death Star, which is housed somewhere on the property.
“It’ll make a great story tomorrow,” he joked.
Here are five things we learned from watching some of the footage.
ROGUE ONE GETS RIGHT INTO IT
The film opens with the familiar tag, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...” — but there is no opening crawl, a signature of the other films.
The action starts with an Imperial shuttle descending on a remote planet, where we see how our eventual heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) became an orphan. It’s an earthy, windswept world, the kind we don’t see a lot of in the Star Wars universe.
Flanked by Death Troopers (Stormtroopers in black), we learn Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the man behind the Death Star and he wants Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) to help finish building the weapon — he thinks it can help create peace in the galaxy.
Galen tells his daughter, “Whatever I do, I do it to protect you.” Jyn’s mother hides her daughter telling her to “trust the Force.”
Jyn is rescued by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), who was introduced in The Clone Wars series. When the action flips forward, Jyn is alone in a prison when she is broken out and tasked with helping the Rebel Alliance stop the Empire.
IT’S A TEAM EFFORT
Jyn has been a focus of much of the advertising, but additional scenes screened for journalists show that Rogue One is an ensemble film. We meet Alliance Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) at a dingy trading outpost where he is seeking information about a pilot working for the Empire. We get more of scene-stealing droid K-2SO — a reprogrammed Imperial security guard voiced by Alan Tudyk, as well as some kick-ass action courtesy of Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen). Other faces familiar to Star Wars fans show up, including Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) and Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits), who appeared in the prequel trilogy.
THIS IS A STAR WARS MOVIE FOR THE GROWN-UPS
Kids are going to love it but Rogue One seems to be aiming squarely at kidults. The film has a gritty look, one that is more reminiscent of a war film than a polished sci-fi epic. The action is also visceral and uncompromising, particularly in scenes where Andor kills an informant and rebels attack a squad of Stormtroopers. Edwards shoots the scenes up close, letting us hear the bones crunch. A sizzle reel shown at the end, comprised mostly of footage from the trailers, gives the impression that the action only gets more intense as the film goes on.
THERE ARE A LOT OF PLANETS
The film will hop around a lot, with some of the scenes taking us to a beach, a trading outpost, a marketplace and more. Turns out there’s lots to see in the galaxy.
WE STILL DON’T KNOW A LOT ABOUT DARTH
None of the footage we saw revealed anything more about Darth Vader’s appearance. Is it a mere cameo? Does he have a bigger role? And we still don’t know about the Jedi. We get a glimpse of that massive Jedi statue, buried in sand, and Jyn’s mother gives her daughter necklace that some are theorizing is imbued with kyber crystal, the stone that powers a lightsaber.
We’ll find out more when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens Dec. 16.