By Stefan Pape
“It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armoured space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”
Recognise that? Of course you do – it's the opening crawl to the very first entry out of the Star Wars franchise, A New Hope. It's also laying down the foundations for the narrative of spin-off endeavour Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which takes place shortly beforehand.
We now have a new second trailer for the Gareth Edwards production to decipher and dissect, to figure out what's in store, and whether or not a certain Darth Vader will be making an appearance. Spoiler alert: he does.
The trailer begins with a breathtaking shot of planet Jedha, as imperial fighters adorn the sky. The land is under the Empire's occupation, and it's rumoured this is where kyber crystals can be found, a mineral that can power the Death Star's terrifying superlaser. This instantly sets the tone for what appears to be a gritty war movie, and as we progress through this trailer, that becomes increasingly more clear.
We then get our first glimpse of hero Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a volatile soldier captured and recruited by the rebellion. “Let's just get this over with, shall we?” she asks – though we know fully well it's not going to be as straightforward as that. The mission, to find the plans to the Death Star before it can be utilised to enforce Emperor's rule, we see outlined by Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly).
Jyn is joined by rebel officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and we witness early signs of their fledgling partnership, which will no doubt blossom throughout the story. “Are you with me?” Jyn asks. “All the way,” Cassian replies.
We also get our first look at the U-wing, a brand new rebel gunship, as it takes off from Yavin 4, before we (finally) see the Storm Troopers. They look confident and imposing now, but in the following shot they're lifeless, by the feet of Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen).
We then meet new droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). He might not be as cute as BB-8, but appears to inject moments of comic relief nonetheless. Though any humour is short-lived, as the deafening, indelible sound of the siren that featured in the initial trailer can be heard, followed closely by a brief look at the film's paramount villain, and head of security for the Death Star, Orson Krennic – played by Ben Mendelsohn. Then comes a series of fight sequences, Storm Troopers are flung in the air (good), and an AT-AT is being blown up (good).
Then what we've all been waiting for; cinema's greatest ever adversary, Darth Vader. He's breathing, slowly and distinctly, for a brief second or two, but that's enough. It's hard to gather his exact surroundings, but it's dark, it's glowing an ominous red, and it's scary.
“There's a 97.6% chance of failure,” we hear K-2SO say of the protagonist's mission, but based on this remarkable second trailer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has a far greater chance of being a success.