Only a bit more than two months remain until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits the theaters. As the 16th December gets closer, we can expect Disney and Lucasfilm to unleash more trailers and promotional material at us.
The second Rogue One trailer came out on 13th October and it presents completely different material from what we have seen so far. Let us take a quick look at what it reveals about the upcoming film and what more we can expect.
First something generic: the trailer contains many visually beautiful parts, especially landscapes. That starts already with the opening shot of planetary rings and coastal sea (Jyn’s homeworld?), or the remains of Jedi monuments (probably on Jedha, the desert planet which is a sacred pilgrimage site for Force-users) and the “Death Star-rise” above the clouds (possibly of the tropical planet Scarif, where it is being built). What also stands out is the design of aliens (like the one in prison with Jyn), very realistic, yet not contradictory to the “Star Wars” look. The music only compliments the trailer (incidentally, it has recently been revealed that Alexander Desplat, who was originally meant to provide music score for Rogue One, won’t be doing it after all, probably due to schedule changes which would prevent him to complete it on time. Nonetheless, the task now fell onto Michael Giacchino, who did music score e.g. for Lost, John Carter or the several recent Star Trek films). The general atmosphere of the trailer, however, is very dark and grim. We are indeed at the darkest time when Empire’s inhumane system rules supreme and the new hope is not yet on the horizon.
The first half of the trailer shows more about Jyn, her family and also shows how she ended up with the Rebels. Right in the beginning, we see Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, and also little Jyn. The interesting part is that in this (presumably) flashback, it is director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) himself who arrives to pick up Galen. Given what the actors have said on earlier occasions, the Empire wants Galen for his skill as a scientist (he is the “Robert Oppenheimer of Star Wars”). Now knowing that Jyn had actually been there and seen Krennic (and possibly is still having nightmares about it?) gives another twist to the plot: what will Jyn do when she meets Krennic (assuming she does)? How will this relate to her motivation and/or her focus on the main objective to get the Death Star plans? The trope “you killed my father, prepare to die” may be a bit overused, but finding her father’s fate adds at least one more believable reason for Jyn to join the Rebel cause.
The first part of the trailer (if we take the “Death Star-rise” as a marker) focuses mostly on Jyn’s story, while the second focuses more on the team of heroes, complimented by shots from action scenes. Using the trailer, we can slowly get used to telling the different Rogue team members apart. Notably, we see Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) being a truly scarred war-veteran up to the point of having cyborg legs, and we see the blind (!) Chirrut (Donnie Yen) shooting his… bow-rifle… or whatever that is. There is some vague sketch-out of the dynamics inside the group, too, and the driver Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) is shown to be the one who comes up with “Rogue One” call sign.
It is to the satisfaction of many fans that close to the end of the trailer – dun dun dun – Darth Vader also appears. It is hard to say what the scene in question is about, but it seems almost like a confrontation after Krennic’s security system suffered some setback. Personally, the vibe I get is that maybe here we are going to witness the beginnings of Vader’s streak of choking incompetent officers.
It may once again seem that this trailer reveals a lot, but I believe we have just seen the top of the iceberg. For those of you who got hyped about Rogue One and can’t wait until December, know that Disney is planning to release a prequel novel to Rogue One, called the Catalyst. It is written by James Luceno, one of the classic Star Wars authors (among others, he wrote The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force, Cloak of Deception, Darth Plagueis or Tarkin) and it is scheduled for publishing one month before the film, on the 15th November 2016. The author himself has recently said at the New York Comic Con that Catalyst is “essential reading” for those who want to watch Rogue One. Personally, I don’t know yet if I am sold on this (may want to keep my first watching of it “pure”), but the book description is very tempting, especially in relation to the trailer we just received. It says among other things:
“…[a]s a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key (…) after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity (…)”
If you like coming to the movie fully armed and operational – I mean, prepared and with all the knowledge of the backstory – you can look forward to the book. And for the rest of us, I assume we are going to see more trailers and teasers in near future.