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2016 is almost over, but the most eagerly-anticipated film of the year is yet to be released. Star Wars fans are eagerly anticipating the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first ever Star Wars spinoff movie. The pressure's really on Lucasfilm to deliver a blockbuster hit this Christmas, and the studio seems to have learned a lesson from weddings: You need something old, and something new!
Unless you've been hiding from a Star Destroyer in an asteroid field, you'll know that Rogue One is set right before Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie takes us back to the days when the Empire was the greatest power in the galaxy, and when all their engineering skills were occupied building a planet-destroying superweapon.
Lucasfilm is determined to ensure this film has all the sense and style of the classic trilogy. According to Director Gareth Edwards, the team has essentially tried to make a period piece. As a result, they chose not to use aesthetics that wouldn't look right in 1977. Incredibly, that was also the case with the cameras.
Now add to this the fact that Rogue One features the legendary Darth Vader himself, and this is possibly the most nostalgic film ever made. Gareth Edwards talked about the hush across the set when the iconic figure stepped in:
“When that helmet comes on, it’s too intimidating. You can’t give direction to Darth Vader.”
Rogue One exists in the same universe as the classic Saga, but from the moment the film begins you'll know that this is a very different movie. In a departure from a tradition that's even been honored over in the animated shows, it doesn't even have a title crawl.
Excitingly, Rogue One is a standalone in the truest sense. #Lucasfilm isn't planning this to be the first of a new series — it's utterly self-contained — and if you want a sequel you'll have to settle for A New Hope! Equally pleasing is that Lucasfilm intend this to be utterly accessible; if you've never seen Star Wars before (where have you been living?), this film should still make perfect sense. That said, it still has clear continuity ties to the wider Star Wars franchise, with one character even making the transition from an animated tie-in to the big screen.
Stylistically, Gareth Edwards has openly talked about pitching #RogueOne as a "Vietnam war" movie, one that lives in a morally grey universe where all sides will suffer from the burden of war. Thematically and conceptually, it's set to be a whole lot darker than the classic Star Wars saga, and we'll really get a strong sense of the cost of rebellion.
Fitting in with this thematic difference, we're unlikely to see any hint of the Jedi in this movie. The Force is just a "hokey superstition," with some fanatics believing in it, and many dismissing it entirely.
All in all, Rogue One sounds like it will be a unique film. Set in the "Galaxy Far, Far Away" that we all know and love, it still dares to be its own creature, and looks set to have a tonal darkness that we've never seen in Star Wars before. This is one seriously exciting prospect.