Yes, the rumours are true. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story lacks the crawl famous to all seven previously released Star Wars movies. But more on that in just a bit.
In 1999, when George Lucas released the first of his Star Wars prequel movies, excitement was high. Unfortunately, those films proved to be a major disappointment, in part because of a razor-thin plot spread across three films, but largely because they destroyed the mythology of A New Hope and turned its villain — perhaps cinema’s greatest — into a whinny narcissistic teenager.
Who knew that it would take Walt Disney Studios — home of Mickey Mouse and Goofy — to stumble upon the right formula to explore the Star Wars past. For Rogue One explores events that occur before A New Hope AND strikes the right balance of providing a back story that is neither thin on plot nor destructive to the original film’s lore. And thanks to the leadership of producer (and Lucasfilm president) Kathleen Kennedy, Rogue One, a single-story entry located outside the official Star Wars saga, explores the events leading directly into A New Hope with the perfect mix of action and sentimentality.
Rogue One focuses on Jyd Erso (Felicity Jones), who as a young child witnesses the murder of her mother and forcible conscription of her scientist father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), into the Empire by its weapons director, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), for whom Galen builds the Death Star. Jyd is rescued and raised by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), a militant rebel fighter who trains Jyd to be a great fighter before abandoning her when she is 16. When an Imperial cargo pilot (Riz Ahmed) defects to Saw with a message from Galen, the Rebel Alliance rescues Jyd from prison, where she’s held on unspecified charges, and sends her to Saw with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a Rebel intelligence officer. Along the way, they are joined by Cassian’s droid, K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk); Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind man self-taught in some Jedi skills; and fighter Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang). Together they attempt to steal the plans to the Death Star.
To go into any further detail into the plot would spoil the fun for Star Wars fans looking forward to seeing the film over the holidays. But Star Wars fans will delight in seeing old characters making appearances in the film, including Rebel leaders Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) –Princess Leia’s adopted father — and Mon Mothma (Genvieve O’Reilly) a character who originally appeared in Return of the Jedi. Grand Moff Tarkin, originally played by Peter Cushing in A New Hope also appears, as does Darth Vader himself, along with James Earl Jones’s voice. Even smaller characters make an appearance, including the man from Mos Eisley with 12 death sentences who attacks Luke.
But will Star Wars purists be content with Rogue One‘s stylistic differences? The crawl is missing. Elements of John Williams’s original score are used, but Michael Giacchino brings in a new treatment. And unlike the Star Wars saga, it is clear that Rogue One‘s lead characters won’t be in any other Star Wars movies; obviously, this film is intended to be a sideline to the main saga. Fans of A New Hope will squeal in delight in how Rogue One‘s characters, cameos and plot lines neatly and directly lead into the beginning of A New Hope, and director Gareth Edwards and screenwriters John Knoll and Gary Whitta should be commended. And stick around for the very end. You’ll be amazingly surprised.