Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been flying under the radar, waiting for everyone to fully exhaust themselves on Star Wars: The Force Awakens before revealing itself. And oh boy, has it revealed itself. The first trailer is here and it’s a doozy, filled with all kinds of incredible imagery, promising characters, and, for the lack of a more elegant phrase, really cool stuff. And you know what that means – it’s time for a frame-by-frame trailer breakdown.
One word of warning: this article will dive into various internet rumors that have circulated this project for the past year. Some may be true. Some may not. I recommend bringing a pinch of salt along for this particular journey. If you want to know nothing about the film, you should probably turn around now.
The first thing that hits you when you start watching this trailer is the music. Yeah, it’s a variation on an iconic John Williams track, but it’s been modified just enough to evoke all kinds of new feelings. It’s melancholy and eerie, setting the mood for a film that looks ready to explore the dark and grimy underbelly of the Star Wars universe. It’s not clear if this is a piece from Alexandre Desplat‘s actual score or not, but it’s an indicator that the music of this universe is in fine hands, even as Williams himself steps away from the series. As for the opening shot itself, it’s simple enough: Felicity Jones‘ character is led through a doorway, past one of those Rebel soldiers wearing one of those dumb helmets. We first saw these uniforms in the opening scene original 1977 Star Wars, when these guys acted as the last line of defense between Darth Vader and Princess Leia and got ruthlessly slaughtered by Stormtroopers.
And she turns around, looks right at the camera and we hear her state her name: Jyn Erso. Star Wars news nuts have heard rumors that the main character in this film has been named Jyn for a few months now, but now we have confirmation (and a last name). As she walks, an offscreen voice describes her various crimes: forgery of Imperial documents, possession of stolen property, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest. In other words, she’s one tough cookie who doesn’t care for authority. She certainly sounds like the kind of person you want resisting the Empire.
As her crimes are read out loud offscreen, Jyn is escorted through a Rebel base that looks very much like the base on Yavin IV, as seen in the first Star Wars film. It appears to be housed in an old temple and the hanging vines suggest a jungle outside. It would make sense when you consider the timeframe of this film – the Rebellion only packs up and relocates to Hoth when the Death Star almost destroys them following the rescue of Princess Leia.
Here’s our first sighting of a re-cast original trilogy character. That is quite clearly Mon Mothma, the Rebel diplomat and leader initially introduced in Return of the Jedi (“Many Bothans died to bring us this information”), where she was played by Caroline Blakiston. Here she’s played by Genevieve O’Reilly, who also played a younger version of the character in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Mothma has been a major player in the Star Wars expanded universe, so it makes sense that she’d pop up here. It’s also a lot easier to cast a new Mon Mothma than it is to cast a new Leia Organa. She’s on hand to introduce Jyn – according to Mothma, she’s “reckless, aggressive and undisciplined.” You’ll also note that she says Jyn has been on her own since she was 15, possibly confirming early rumors that the lead of Rogue One is an orphan with a grudge against the Empire for killing her parents. Maybe. Take that one with some salt.
Here’s our first glimpse at Diego Luna‘s character, who seems to be present in the meeting between Jyn and Mon Mothma. He doesn’t get a name or even a line of dialogue, but he looks like an experienced Rebel soldier with at least some authority. After all, why else would he be sitting in on this exchange?
Note the very tall, very thin droid standing behind Jyn in this quick shot. It’s out of focus and mostly obscured, but this is very likely the motion capture character that Alan Tudyk is playing in the film. Buzz has suggested that he’s playing a reprogrammed Imperial assault droid who towers over an average human. This certainly looks like the case.
Not much to say here except that Jyn looks very capable of taking on Stormtroopers. She already seems to be a very different flavor of heroine from The Force Awakens‘ Rey – she’s rough and vicious and ready to fight dirty. She doesn’t look ready to embark on a Hero’s Journey as much as she looks ready to blow everything up and punch the survivors in the face.
“This is a Rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.” Is Jyn an established member of the Rebellion or is she a newbie? It’s not entirely clear, but I’d guess the latter, especially since we saw her being escorted on to the base earlier in the trailer. This exchange with Mon Mothma sounds like a job interview.
Director Gareth Edwards has called Rogue One a war movie and shots like this sell that concept more than any number of big action beats. The look of determination and fear on Jyn’s face as she takes off in this ship sell the horrors of war more than a dozen explosions. But explosions do help and this trailer has a few.