Could Rogue One be even better than The Force Awakens?

It’s been eight months since the revamped Star Wars universe delighted fans and critics alike. Here, we look back at the critical reaction of The Force Awakens and cast our impatient gaze forward to the release of the first full length Rogue One trailer.

Words Mike Atherton

It seems like only yesterday we were all waiting with bated breath for The Force Awakens trailer to drop. After the lukewarm response to the Lucas-lead prequels, the stakes for The Force Awakens were perilously high. While there was some criticism that director JJ Abrams steered a little too close to the original Star Wars plot (plucky youngster aided by infamous mentor takes down baddest of the bad spherical, but fatally flawed, battle station) it was obvious just a few minutes into the action that the franchise was in safe hands.

The Telegraph enthused that the storytelling was “addictively bold and wildly exciting”, while the Guardian’s Mark Kermode confessed that “the sight of a fleet of X-wings hurtling toward us over watery terrain brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye." It’s safe to say that tears were shed by fans everywhere during the film.
It’s hard to pick a single breakout star from the new cast. John Boyega’s almost-accidental hero tumbles into our hearts while not-at-all-needing-to-save Daisy Ridley’s Rey who offers an exciting new adventurer every bit as plucky as Luke Skywalker was. Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron managed to be both dreamy and funny at the same time while Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren gave a wonderful turn as the ultimate Darth Vader fan boy. The little ball of fun BB-8 even manages to beat the iconic R2-D2 at his own game.

As satisfying as it was, The Force Awakens left us with a lot more questions than A New Hope (1977) did. Who/what the hell is Snoke? Who/where are Rey’s parents? Can Poe and Finn’s bromance get even more intense? Will the Empire finally decide that building X-Wing size trenches into their hardware is a design flaw?
Star Wars Rogue One

Yup, Episode 8 (due for release in December 2017) seems like a long way away. Thankfully, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) has been working on a little movie for us called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, slated for release at the end of 2016.

From the small amount of information that’s been leaked thus far, Rogue One sounds like a grittier take on the Star Wars universe, a kind of war-movie-heist-hybrid. The film will centre around a band of mismatched Rebels who take on the impossible task of stealing the plans for the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star. Felicity Jones will lead the mission as Jyn Erso, who we’re confident will be every bit as badass as Finn and Rey. Joining her are freelance assassins and spiritual warriors on a Dirty Dozen style all-or-nothing run at a new set of impeccably dressed Imperials.
Star Wars Rogue One

With the action taking place before A New Hope everyone is hoping for an appearance by our favourite scruffy-lookin' nerf herder, Han Solo, as the young version of the character was recently cast (Hail Caesar!’s Alden Ehrenreich getting to shoot first this time), but it’s the mouth-watering, throat-crushing opportunity to see Darth Vader back in his prime that has us the most excited.

There are also some more obscure Star Wars universe characters returning. “If you continue to fight, what will you become?”, asks Forest Whitaker’s Saw Gerrera in the trailer. Fans of The Clone Wars series will recognise him as a more world-weary version of a young Rebel who set off on a dark path of his own. Maybe he’ll find redemption in the new film?

One very recognisable face (thanks to spot-on casting) is that of Rebel leader Mon Mothma, last seen in Return of the Jedi reminding us that “Many Bothans died” to bring the Rebels information on the Death Star. We’re promised a more substantial glimpse of her this time out.

And while the Jedi and lightsabers are noticeable by their absence from the trailer we do have Martial Arts superstar Donnie Yen on hand to (we hope!) crack a few of the new black-clad Death Troopers’ helmets together.

And while initial reports claimed that this was a much darker version of the Star Wars story than we’ve seen to date, that was before reshoots nudged the story a little more into line with what we’ve come to expect a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. That said, this may be the first Star Wars movie to abandon the famous opening scrawl to help set the scene, but don’t panic – it’s rumoured that Rogue One ends only ten minutes before the opening of the original 1977 movie, so we recommend taking Luke Skywalker’s original adventure out for one more spin just before seeing the new one.

December can’t come fast enough.

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