Why Rogue One Gives Us A New Hope

Disney’s marketing machine is doing its job stirring up excitement for the semi-prequel that is Rogue One.  But unlike some of the inflated hype of Episode 7, it’s the deep storytelling that sets Rogue apart and makes it a worthy stand alone film.

Where The Force Awakens fell short for the rushed, piecemeal script making, Rogue One was born before the Disney takeover that accelerated the timeline for producing new Star Wars movies.

VFX supervisor John Knoll conceptualized the plot while the prequels were wrapping and talk of a live action TV show (this is still only a whisper in the rumor mills) was on Lucas’s agenda.  That’s why I’m on the edge of my seat for the trailer.  That’s why I’m devouring articles with the back story of the rebel heroine Jyn Erso and the Jedi planet akin to Earth’s “Holy Land” where the film takes place.

Story has to drive Rogue because it’s an ensemble heist film.  It just happens to feature the most famous movie villain of all time.  Okay, maybe it’s not that obscure, but let’s face it, this is a gamble with the name “Star Wars” attached.  A new episode of everyone’s favorite space saga will draw crowds, but what about a gritty war movie about an unknown band of heroes?

Leading lady Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is an immediately compelling character.  A scrappy loner, often one step outside the law, her estranged father is the Nobel-esque brain behind the Death Star technology that she is contracted to steal.  Does she feel the need to undo the mistakes of her father?  I mean, it’s vaguely Shakespearian. Ok, I’ll stop.

Rogue will also tie old and new stories together.  A perfect example is Forest Whitaker’s character, Saw Gererra, a rebel fighter from animated Clone Wars TV show.  Senior Vice President of Development Kiri Hart shared that Rogue explains a part of the Star Wars timeline so pivotal to the series’ history, it will automatically become familiar to fans.

Rogue promises to be a different film entirely.  The fact that the first viewing made Disney execs a bit frazzled seems to set the tone that this will be vastly different from the cannon episodes.  Rogue will create the world of “A New Hope,” but not remake it shot for shot—a privilege we’ve not had yet in the new lineup of the franchise.

If you start watching at about 10:00 minutes, you’ll hear John Knoll talking about conceptualizing Rogue One over ten years ago.

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Christie Hudon is a playwright, poet, and author of children's and YA books. Much of her work tends toward the realm of fantasy.
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