"The standalone films can be a wide variety of genres inside the Star Wars universe…”
- Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy
Rogue One will not only be the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series, but perhaps the first Star Wars story to venture into the galaxy of genre filmmaking. We have seen the success of focusing stories, as an homage, to a certain genre work well for Disney’s other property: Marvel Studios. Marvel has been very successful with their films because they realize that the stories they wish to tell are what should define the film. Their choices in directing, casting, writing, and scoring are all driven by the idea that story come first. I believe that is what we are beginning to see from Lucasfilm’s Anthology series.
Directing Rogue One will be Gareth Edwards, a relatively new director with only a handful of films on his resume. Edwards’ most notable work thus far is the 2014 Godzilla. Edwards jumpstarted the classic franchise with his attention to pacing and a focus on the humanity of the tale as opposed to the titular character. If Edwards is able to sensibly pace Rogue One and focus on the effects that an active war zone has on the soldiers, then we may not only see a great Star Wars film but a great war genre film. Edwards’ ability to dramatize a battle between towering creatures has obviously given Lucasfilm the confidence that he can make the first Star Wars movie to not feature Jedi just as good as those which do. Edwards’ position as director is a tough one because Rogue One will need to fit snugly between Episodes III and IV, and honor the continuity already built. The toughest part of his job will no doubt be pleasing the legions of fans whom are salivating for a throwback to the design and feel of the original trilogy.
Direction and design are always huge components to a great film, but those alone do not make an epic film. Star Wars broke ground for its use of practical special effects during the early years of the franchise. However, the glue that has bound the whole saga together is John Williams’ masterful score. His compositions drive the tone and emotion of all of the saga films thus far, including the recently released Episode VII: The Force Awakens. In a surprising move, Williams will not be taking the reigns on scoring Rogue One. That honor will go french composer Alexandre Desplat, whose scoring credits include work on Fantastic Mr. Fox as well as the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises. Desplat has also previously worked with director Gareth Edwards on the 2014 Godzilla. That prior relationship may prove beneficial in properly showcasing the emotion that this epic war film is sure to be packed with. Desplat’s work has a dark undertone and should be a fine compliment to the previous orchestral scores of the saga. A playlist of Desplat’s work is available HERE.
Rogue One began filming in August 2015 at an all too familiar location. Elstree Studios in Herfordshire, England has been the shooting location for several Star Wars films including all of the original trilogy. This choice of location has given fans hope that this Star Wars story will be a throwback to the trilogy of yesteryear. With a strong director, an even stronger composer, and the heritage of Elstree; things are looking good for the first standalone film. While no Jedi are going to be present in Rogue One, the force is still strong with this movie.
Rogue One will be released on December 16th 2016.