Star Wars: Rogue One Teaser Analysis
That is really the only word that comes to my mind after I, a lifetime Star Wars fan, viewed the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. To be sure, I had a similar reaction to that first 88-second teaser for The Force Awakens. But there is a difference. In that trailer, I was eager just to get back into Star Wars, and the notion of seeing the original cast again speaking new lines was something I couldn’t wait for. That teaser gave us instead about a half a dozen awesome images about what the real of Star Wars would promise. It all felt right. But whereas The Force Awakens continues of characters we’ve all known and hands to the torch of adventure to some younger faces, Rogue One takes us back to the conflict is at the very heart of Star Wars: The Rebellion vs the Empire. It takes us back to that most dangerous galaxy where the Empire rules with iron fist, where the heroes must navigate some dangerous moral rapids in order to succeed. It’s a world where bounty hunters thrive and that happy ending feels like a fairy tale. Rogue One brings back that edge that, in my opinion, gives the Star Wars universe it’s appeal. Star Wars is less about seeing exciting new worlds and more about navigating through the shadows of dangerous ones.
Instead of riding on nostalgia, the trailer for Rogue One offers a different tone altogether. It’s darker, to be sure, but in some ways there’s an authenticity to it that we’ve never seen before. We’ve seen the rebellion take on the Empire at the Battle of Yavin, where Luke was able to destroy the dreaded Death Star, but it isn’t until now that we begin to see what had to happen to obtain those plans. The original opening crawl was tantalizingly vague about the notion of “rebel spies” beaming the plans to Leia’s ship, but it isn’t until now that we get a glimpse of how difficult that was when the galaxy is rules with an iron hand by the Empire. It’s similar to the experience of watching Saving Private Ryan: most people know, in the broadest strokes, about World War Two, but in that film, we got to see a smaller mission that took place within that grand canvas, and it made that war feel more real. It wasn’t just a historical lesson: it was a human story. That’s what I felt watching this teaser: this felt more like a historical film to me than a science fiction film. The conflict between the Empire and Rebellion is something I know well, but to see an important game-changing event happen on a small scale where heroes aren’t so clearly defined is tantalizing to me.
The trailer looks perfect. Really. We star by learning about the new hero character, Jyn Erso, is arrested by the leaders of the Rebellion. Everything looks right. This feels like we are back in the time period of the original trilogy. How did they bring Mon Mothma back to screen so perfectly? Wow. And Erso’s statement about what it means to “rebel” is perfect. She seems to be given a chance to be acquitted for her crimes if she volunteers for a mission to learn about Death Star, but there is no denying she really isn’t all that interested in “the cause,” as reflected by her tone when she says “yes, sir.” We also get a glimpse of the classic Star Destroyers here, and we see how they actually scale to Death Star. We even see the installation of the weapon on the battle station. For a Star Wars fan, these images send chills like nothing else.
You know this trailer is not the generally feel-good enterprise the Force Awakens trailer was when the “This Christmas” banner is accompanied by an ear-piercing alarm we heard during the battle scenes of the original trilogy. We get a shot of admiral in white working for the Empire (could be a different take on the Legends character of Admiral Thrawn. We see classic stormtroopers patrolling the streets with armored transports. We see the urgency picking up as we see a few more members of the what could be her team. We get a shot of a hooded figure from behind, and the very sound of what could be Vader breathing. Vader’s never worn a hood since he was put into the suit, but perhaps he is here? (notice the red Royal Guards behind him?) We get the final shot of the beachfront invasion that the leaked photos hinted at, with the classic AT-AT’s. But perhaps what makes this all really compelling is the dialogue interspersed with the images: it’s serious, and lends itself some moral ambiguity that would be very present in those dark times.
Yes, this is the perfect teaser trailer, folks.
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