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"Star Wars: Rogue One" Reveals A Street-Level Rebellion Against The Empire

WHAT: The first full-length trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

WHO: Gareth Edwards, who broke through with the indie sci-fi adventure Monsters then scored a massive hit with the 2014 Godzilla remake, directs Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Jiang Wen, and more in the film.

WHY WE CARE: Did you not see the part of the title that says "A Star Wars Story"? This is the first Star Wars film in the "Anthology" series, which deviates from the "Episode I-VII" thing that the franchise has been running with for close to 40 years, which essentially sets out the new paradigm for how Hollywood is going to work going forward: In the ‘30s, ‘40s, ’50s, and ‘60s, the Western was the dominant form in Hollywood, and you could have comedy Westerns, dramatic Westerns, adventure Westerns, scary Westerns, etc—the Western was the backdrop, the story was flexible. That looks to be where we’re going with Star Wars now, and Rogue One is the first test of that in action:

Up until now, Star Wars in a movie’s title meant that it was a story about the corruptibility of human nature punctuated with space battles involving a wisecracking thatch-headed hero, lightsaber battles, and philosophical jabbering about the mystical Force that binds us all together. Rogue One doesn’t appear to have any of that, though—rather, it looks like a Dirty Dozen-meets-Ocean’s Eleven war/heist movie about a band of misfits who have to steal secret plans from a military base, and presumably learn a bit about the nature of loyalty and heroism in the process. That’s not a million miles away from the Star Wars tradition, but if it goes well—and it’s worth noting that the trailer looks awesome—then our future in which every movie is a franchise tentpole within one shared cinematic universe or another starts to feel a little less oppressive and starts to look a lot more like an open-ended way for creative people to tell good stories. Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie in which the words "Star Wars" describe the setting, in other words, rather than describing the basic plot. That’s a big deal, and so getting a glimpse of it—one in which all of the things that George Lucas and the creators working in his style showed us from 10,000 yards away are put right up in our face, for a street-level take on the franchise—is exciting. Rogue One looks great, and more than that, it looks like a different kind of Star Wars film, and one that could unlock a whole world of storytelling potential.

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