Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Debut Trailer & Analysis

This is a rebellion, isn’t it?

The debut trailer for Rogue One dropped just now and it looks fabulous. As promised, it has a completely different feel from anything we’ve ever seen in a traditional Star Wars film, while still mixing in elements that we love from those first 7 films.

Here are some observations:

  • Felicity Jones plays the lead character and is clearly a trouble maker. In the trailer’s beginning, she is being read her list of offenses. This definitely sounds like an Imperial officer to me. Does she escape Imperial imprisonment? Perhaps this is towards the end of the movie.
  • Jones’ character is tasked with stealing the Death Star plans, the ones we presumably see Princess Leia store in R2-D2.
  • The underlying musical score is beautiful, with a perfect mix of Piano and stringed instruments. Have we yet confirmed that John Williams is scoring this? Regardless, it conveys the looming danger and fear felt by the Rebels.
  • We see Mon Mothma! What a look-a-like. She sounds just like the original Mothma too. Incredible casting, as always. She is shown in the inside of a Rebel base. Is it Yavin IV? Dantooine? Mothma also gives a bit of a background on Jones’ character, claiming she has been on her own since 15. Seeing how well they cast a young Mon Mothma, it tells me that the door is open for a brief Princess Leia appearance (though I’d bet against that). Also, the casting for the Han Solo movie will be in good hands.
  • We see sand in one battle between Jones and a group of Storm Troopers – back to Tattooine? Or even possibly but extremely unlikely Jakku?
  • As Mothma is giving the mission to steal the plans, a Star Destroyer floats across the screen, looking and feeling just as it did from the original trilogy error.  The background? The construction of the Death Star, with its satellite dish being pushed into place. The film takes place just before Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but it has not been specified exactly how long before. My guess is it will lead directly into it.
  • Just after we see a group of Rebels (including Jones) walk out of the Rebel base, alarms singing in the background, the screen cuts to an Imperial officer in a light grey uniform with a cape. Because this film is so close to A New Hope and due to his numerous appearances in The Clone Wars & Rebels, I think we can eliminate Grand Moff Tarken. The movie seems to be introducing us to as many new, original characters as possible. Which is great – bring on a new set of characters we can learn about and hopefully, learn to love.
  • Forest Whitaker makes an appearance, followed by a brief monologue that cautions his listeners about the Empire. I was skeptical about Whitaker’s involvement at first, but boy did he nail that (brief) sequence. He seems to be playing an aged, “I’ve seen way too much” kind of character. Each Star Wars era has an experience voice of reason. The original trilogy had Obi-Wan Kenobi, The Force Awakens had Han Solo, perhaps Whitaker is this for Rogue One.
  • The severity of the Galactic Empire’s brutality is stressed throughout, and I love it. Why? Because it only ever felt like Darth Vader & the Emperor were the ones the look out for. Now, governors, Storm Troopers, and anyone wearing the Imperial logo (more on that in a minute) are a force to be reckoned with (see what I did there?). As in, get caught, get tortured.
  • Donnie Yen’s appearance is slick and exciting. He is shown taking down a Storm Trooper with a staff and a shows off some of his martial arts expertise. Maybe he will train our band of Rebels how to fight? Yen’s presence will be a welcomed one. I loved him in Shanghai Knights.
  • We see the back of an Imperial Officer, walking towards a place that seems to have just held a battle. Wearing a white cape this time, is it someone new, or the man we saw earlier in the trailer? He seems to be a main villain.
  • Directly after, we see a cloaked figure in black kneel down in a chamber, flanked by 2 red Imperial Guards. It doesn’t appear to be Darth Vader, but if Imperial Guards are involved, that points to the Emperor’s involvement, as they are his personal body guards. I was honestly a bit surprised to not have heard Vader’s infamous breathing at the end of the trailer. My money is on trailer #2, which, if history is any indication, would drop around August.
  • AT-ATs! For the first time since Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (okay, we did see one in Return of the Jedi, but not in battle), the Imperial Walkers are wrecking havoc on some planet that appears to have palm trees. Maybe the Emperor just wanted to clear out some space surrounding his retirement palace in Florida.
  • Felicity Jones is ideal for a lead role in Star Wars. She looks absolutely fantastic and I believe will become a fan favorite. The trailer ends with Jones’ character standing in a lit up tunnel, much like we saw Luke Skywalker in in Cloud City during his fight with Vader. She is wearing what appears to be a Tie Fighter pilot’s armor, clad in shiny black armor, donning the Imperial logo on her right shoulder. What’s on her back though? Batons, possibly? Maybe Donnie Yen’s character taught her how to use them, and she is under cover on her secret mission. I can’t help but wonder if she, like Finn in TFA, defected from the Empire (or First Order, in Finn’s case). Likely, she is just under cover.

Are you surprised that we didn’t see Vader? I am, but only sightly, this being the very first trailer. Who is the “religious warrior” we’ve heard rumors about? Will we see someone like Ahsoka Tano or Ezra appear? I love that it centered around introducing us to the characters for Felicity Jones, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker. It’s time to let the speculation begin! It looks like we are going to have another hit on our hands this Christmas, both critically and at the box office. Only time will tell.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Review
A Viewer’s Guide to The Force Awakens
Walking Carpet: Rogue One Talk – “Religious Warrior”

Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s Star Wars expert. You can expect tons of Rogue One coverage over the next 9 months. 

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