AUSTIN VAN PAY | ENTERTAINMENT COLUMNIST
In December 2015, JJ Abrams helmed the newest and seventh installment in the Star Wars franchise, “The Force Awakens,” and many fans were left wondering, “Where does it go from here?” While many speculate on what Episode VIII may bring with new director Rian Johnson in 2017, others have begun to scratch their heads in confusion at the announcement of another Star Wars film, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” So, what the heck is so important about this film?
Right off the bat, it’s important to understand that “Rogue One” is not a continuation of “The Force Awakens,” but rather a trip back in time to before the events of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” Sorry to those who were excited to see where Rey and Finn’s story goes: you will just have to wait until 2017! Nonetheless, it’s exciting to have a great and mysterious new cast to enjoy, all while “connecting the dots” with the events in “A New Hope.”
This new “Star Wars Story” surrounds the Rebel squadron known as “Rogue One” who are tasked with stealing the plans that could turn the tide of the war and lead the Rebels towards the destruction to the Imperial weapon known as the “Death Star.” The big connection here is that these very plans are the ones that Princess Leia hides within R2D2 at the start of “A New Hope” and that allow the Rebel Alliance, with the help of Luke Skywalker, to destroy this massive weapon.
“Rogue One” introduces a new cast of characters like heroine Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her supporting squad members, as they battle the massive and menacing Imperial army. The film has been said to be void of any sort of Jedi and will also take on a more gritty, war-movie style with some heist elements. This information alone really points to an exciting new style that fans haven’t had the opportunity to experience yet in a “Star Wars” film.
That brings us to the point that this film is a “A Star Wars Story.” Never has this been done with Star Wars films. Since 1977, the “Star Wars” saga has always been episodic, but now, Disney and director Gareth Edwards will open up a new frontier by straying away from this tried and true formula. The importance of “Rogue One” isn’t just that it has the “Star Wars” name but also that it sets the stage for potentially many upcoming spin-offs and stories that have yet to be told on film. If “Rogue One” doesn’t live up to fan expectations or even Disney’s expectations, it could spell trouble for the upcoming Han solo piece or any other films that may have been in the works. Success will not only be based on the amount of profit brought in, but also on “Rogue One” as a standalone film’s ability to continue and build upon an already remarkable legacy of films.