Just to be clear about things, this article deals with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and it MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS to the upcoming film. If you don't want to be informed, please stop reading now. I’ll wait….
In any case, for the meatheads who refuse to follow instructions, here goes another warning…
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So, let’s get to it. The interwebs have been abuzz over the past few weeks regarding the reported reshoots of the film. Apparently, higher ups in the Disney executive chain were not happy with the way the film was going. That’s one rumor. Another was that a rough cut was screened and did not do to well with test audiences. Hmmm…what to believe?
There was also the number issue saying that 70% of the film was having to be reshot due to these issues. 70%?!?!?!?!?? That’s a bit much. Reshooting 70% of the film under the time constraints of a December release would be insane. Those rumors were not so swiftly put to rest, but another (more feasible) number of 40% of the scenes were supposedly reworked. Still, all in all, thats nearly half of the film and would be a daunting task to reshoot. Truth be told, these numbers are highly exaggerated as these reshoots were reported to be scheduled way in advance. Now that makes sense. Anyone involved in the film industry, and more specifically a movie requiring the digital workings of a Star Wars film, would be prepared in advance for such instances. Scenes would need to be reworked. Voice overs would need to be completed. These things are standard operating procedure.
THE DARK SIDE OF ROGUE ONE
So what exactly was the problem? Well, according to reports taken from several news services and many (not so casual) rebel spies, we’ve narrowed it down to one simple thing. The movie was considered TOO DARK. Yep...too dark. HUH?
Apparently, Disney is a family friendly company and the vision that Gareth Edwards put forth in this film was a little “too mature” for what the Mouse would like. I know…I know…I’m thinking the same thing you are. When we were first teased about Rogue One being a military action/adventure set in the Star Wars universe it was mentioned that it would be reminiscent of classic war films like Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. Fans of action and former military types like our crew at Honor The Force were salivating over the chance that our two favorite genres were about to collide in ways that we’ve never seen before. Alas, the company steps in and now a piece of what we envisioned has been taken away. So goes the way of public imagery and brand recognition. It seems to be a smart play for Disney in order to keep their higher ups happy.
But what we really want is DARTH VADER. Aren’t you thinking the same thing? Initial rumors were that the scenes they shot with our favorite Dark Lord were too gritty and too violent. Apparently Vader was being a bit too sadistic for a Disney film. Darth Vader being gritty, violent, and sadistic? Wow…that’s exactly…what I…wanna see. Vader is the epitome of evil in the Star wars universe. in my opinion, Darth Vader SHOULD be portrayed in a darker light. It would only make sense in the development of his character throughout the saga. The story of Rogue One is said to end just minutes before Vader walks onto Leia’s ship in Episode IV and lays the smack down. Vader’s pissed…he’s mean…and he’s on a mission to retrieve stolen Death Star plans. Let the guy have his fun and mercilessly kill a few Rebels. Geez…
The good news is that earlier leaks about James Earl Jones voice being used for Vader have been confirmed. This is awesome news and should be a no brainer for many old school Star Wars fans. You just can’t have without that iconic voice. I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping that his speech patterns will remain the same. To me that was an important part of the power that Vader represented. Those tiny inflections in his voice are part of what creates that dark authority in his character.
THE JEDI & CLONE WARS INFLUENCE
On June 22, Entertainment Weekly released information regarding characters in the upcoming film. Shortly after, the internet was abuzz with imagery, character biographies, and yes…more speculation about the film. This release is great as it finally gives us something to talk about relating to Rogue One. Like most fans, I enjoy the theories, speculation, and general chit chat regarding characters and plots. It makes the whole experience all the more enjoyable. So let’s focus on just a couple of points that I found interesting with this release.
The Jedi influence in Rogue One has been mentioned in the character of blind warrior Chirrut Imwe, played by international action superstar Donnie Yen. Chirrut is not a Jedi but has devoted his life to following their legendary ways. Though not confirmed as being force sensitive, Chirrut has used spiritual abilities to overcome blindness and transform himself into a formidable warrior. It seems that he has extreme sensory capabilities that allow him to do things with little consequence from his lack of vision. I look at this as being extremely similar to a Zatoichi or Daredevil/Matt Murdock type of character that we’ve seen in films and comics. It’s almost as if the filmmakers decided to go with a traditional “blind monk fighting master” approach when creating the backstory for this character. I don’t know about you, but the blind warrior scenario never gets old with me. A blind Jedi influenced Samurai fighting master? Bring it on!
Forest Whitaker is Saw Gerrera. Enough said. Early speculation was that Whitaker would be playing some sort of battle hardened soldier who was possibly a mercenary or veteran of the Clone Wars. Well, the proverbial “cat” is now “out of the bag” and this speculation is ringing true. So…WHO IS SAW GERRERA? He is a guerrilla fighter and obvious forefather to the later ideals of guerrilla warfare known to the Rebel Alliance. Saw was first introduced in The Clone Wars animated series in Season 5. The story arc running through episodes 2-5 of season 5 show Saw and his sister, Steela, organizing efforts to destroy the Droid occupation and unite the people on their home planet of Onderon. If you don’t know the story of the Onderon rebels, you should definitely check out those episodes. They’re really well thought out. Jedi along with Captain Rex are sent in as military advisors to aid the guerrillas and train them to combat the droid army. Action ensues. I won’t go into great detail as the episodes really should be seen to be appreciated.
Bringing in a solid actor like Whitaker to portray Saw was a great choice. He has always been a powerful actor. Many say that his roles have never always been great but the performances are always spot on. Whittaker takes his craft seriously. The depth that must exist within the Saw Gerrera character is one that I am anxious to see. Having seen his initial work as an opponent against the Droid army in The Clone Wars series, it births the possibility of Saw being an integral part of the Rogue One team. An experienced warrior such as Saw should have plenty of knowledge and wisdom to pass along to the younger crop of rebels that are certain to exist in this film.
In closing, Rogue One has had it’s time to present itself and (as far as I can tell) is being widely accepted by the newer generations of Star Wars fans created by The Force Awakens. Speaking for myself, being part of the Original Trilogy old guard, I have been interested in this story for years. Now, with the help of a new breed of visionary filmmakers and studio execs, it seems to be finally coming around. It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan! Until next time, keep the sabers lit and your blasters set to kill. You never know what’s coming around the bend.