Rogue One is hitting theaters in just 9 months. Given what we know about the film so far, it could end up being even better than The Force Awakens…
If we’re being honest with ourselves, and we hush our nostalgia-hungry inner fanboy and fangirl for a moment, there is an uncomfortable truth to acknowledge about Star Wars: The Force Awakens: It really wasn’t that great.
It’s a truth largely predicated on the notion that J.J. Abrams simply had too many boxes to check off in creating the film.
More from Dork Side of the Force
- The High Republic Adventures (2023) 1 review
- Daniel José Older named a High Republic Adventures character after someone special
- How animation changed Star Wars: Ewoks and Droids
- Kelleran Beq comes to Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal becomes No. 1 on IMDb’s Starmeter for 2023
- Please the die-hards.
- Please the casual moviegoers.
- Bridge a 30 year gap in history.
- Introduce new characters, institutions, and conflicts.
- Sprinkle in nostalgia, but don’t be heavy-handed with it.
- Initiate a story that at least two, but likely many more films can carry forward.
The result was a VERY good Star Wars movie, but one that in reality ranks somewhere between 3rd and 5th out of 7 saga films. Gareth Edwards, Rogue One director, simply has more creative space with which to maneuver.
With all that in mind, here are the reasons Rogue One has a chance to be a much better film than The Force Awakens.
1) It’s a Prequel!
Technically…it is. And it’s the one we wanted 17 years ago. Rogue One has an opportunity to serve as a truly unique package of old and new. It takes us back to the rule of the Empire, back to familiar planets and characters, while being repackaged in a contemporary wrapping.
The closing minutes of Revenge of the Sith saw our characters conveniently scurry off to whatever fate A New Hope dictated. Within minutes on screen, Luke and Leia were whisked away to their separate, and tragically unequal adoptive homes. Obi-Wan and Yoda exiled to their respective destinations. And Anakin and Palpatine hunkered down in a brand new command ship. Then 20 years went by without anything happening. What Rogue One will do is help color in a fraction of that empty space.
2) Emphasis on the ‘War’ in Star Wars
What we know about the plot so far suggests that this movie is more of a war film set in space than a sci-fi/fantasy film. The story takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and follows a special forces unit within the Rebellion, tasked with stealing the plans of the Death Star. No, not Bothans, that’s episode VI.
Gareth Edwards has brought in cinematographer Greig Fraser, who worked on Zero Dark Thirty, and special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, who oversaw Saving Private Ryan, Blackhawk Down, and Gladiator. That should give you some idea about how much darker the tone of this film will be than its predecessors.
3) The Visual Mastery of Gareth Edwards
Edwards is no amateur in terms of visual creativity, especially in the sci-fi world. He is perhaps most famous for his 2014 reboot of Godzilla. Before that, he was the writer, director, and cinematographer for the 2010 film Monsters, which was created with an estimated budget of just $500,000.
It’s exciting to imagine what Edwards will do with the extraterrestrial elements of Star Wars, especially in regards to the Death Star.
4) The Savagery of Darth Vader
Beyond the unsettling sight of young Anakin slaughtering younglings, we have yet to witness the true brutality of history’s favorite villain manifest itself on screen. But according to a Making Star Wars report from January, we’re going to get “a more violent” iteration of Vader:
"‘The action sequences filmed are unknown, but there was work pitching the different ways Darth Vader could kill rebels on a battlefield with the Force and his lightsaber. The storyboard “pitches” showed decapitated rebels, people being dismembered by Vader throwing his sword, levitating bodies to make human shields, and so on. The art was more violent than what we’ve seen Darth Vader do on screen before.’"
The report went on to mention “stunt suits” were being designed as a part of Vader’s costume collection, which is a welcome deviation from the stiff, rigid Vader we saw in action scenes from the original trilogy. Vader has always been depicted as an unstoppable evil, both sinister and diabolical, for whom the ends always justify the means. This is the film that will realize that characterization.
We want to hear from you: Do you think Rogue One will be better than The Force Awakens? Are you look forward to Rogue One more? Or would you rather Disney stick to the Sequel Trilogy first, then get to the stand-alones, later? Let us know in the comments and on social media.