Whether the story of the Skywalker family continues the way I think it should is one thing, but another project being worked on is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, originally titled Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One. This will be the first of many spinoff pictures dealing with events outside of the "episode" films, although they will keep the same continuity. The focal point of Rogue One is the operation to steal the technical readout of the Death Star, which takes place before the events of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope.
This sounds pretty awesome, right? Fans of the series would love to see this story unfold, even though we know the end result. What we don't know, however, is what else is brought to the table to fill in the gaps. After watching Star Wars Rebels and being more in the mindset of this era, I figured I would present to you a list of five things I feel are necessary for this movie's success.
1. Dark, Gritty Tone
Before you roll your eyes and scoff at the idea, saying Star Wars is for kids, let's not forget that these aren't G-rated movies you'll watch on the Sprout network. Limbs get chopped off, people die during childbirth, genocide is a negotiation tactic, and Jesus Christ slaughters children, for fuck's sake.
|Master Skywalker, is it time for our next training sess-OMG WTF ARE YOU DOING!?|
One of the phrases being tossed around about Rogue One is that it will put the word "wars" back in Star Wars, and that's exactly what I'm hoping for. This isn't a rebellion on the schoolyard; it's for control of an entire galaxy. People will die. Scumbags will prosper by selling out the heroes to cover their own hides. Many Bothans died to find out the information from Return of the Jedi, so which lives were lost for the greater good when it comes to getting the Death Star plans?
Just like in any other war film, we need to see the horrors of battle. Do you remember how sad you felt when Jek Porkins died? No, you laughed, because he was a fat idiot who got what he deserved. We need to avoid that kind of expendability when it comes to our characters. If Person X eats a blaster bolt to the chest, he or she should be in agony, if not dead, from a smoking crater in his or her torso.
I'm not saying this needs to be overly gory or take too many cues from Apocalypse Now, but it needs to be more along the lines of Saving Private Ryan than the army men from Toy Story, as cool as those little guys were. Director Gareth Edwards seems to have a nice balance of darkness with Godzilla and Monsters, the latter of which is definitely not the most upbeat in mood. Considering how this franchise has books, comics, toys, a more lighthearted animated program, and other outlets, this movie doesn't need to be marketed to kids. This series has more than enough of a fan base that it will make a disgusting amount of money without having to get the younger audience. The kids can skip this one. Make it a hard PG-13—the type where some things need to be slightly edited because it originally got an R-rating from the MPAA—and I guarantee it will breathe a new life in the franchise.
2. Smarter Comedic Relief
Piggybacking off the idea of having a darker tone, obviously the whole thing can't be depressing from start to finish or it will be tough to watch. People can stomach a movie like The Avengers more than Schindler's List, so we need some laughs to slip through the cracks.
That being said, they can't take any shortcuts to those moments of levity that break up the gloomy atmosphere. Earn the jokes and place them at the right timing for them to be something the audience is receptive to, rather than having a producer hand down the note of "we need more laughs" and you just start inserting them into random scenes.
More importantly is the type of humor that needs to be displayed. One of the absolute biggest flaws in the prequel trilogy was what George Lucas referred to as "the key to all this"…
Lucas even basically admits that Jar Jar Binks runs a risk of being too silly, yet he didn't have the foresight to realize just how ridiculously things went out of hand. I don't expect anything near this extreme, but anything even remotely close is unacceptable. There can't be a character that is there just to make jokes and serve no other function to the story. Yes, there should be a "funny guy," as every team has one to offset "the smart guy" as well as "the heart of the team" and "the tough guy" tropes. That funny guy also needs to be on the team because he matters in some way in the universe itself. If you ignore the fourth wall convention of the character being necessary because he's good for laughs and you can't think of any other reason for the character to exist, then you need to think of a reason.
I also need to stress that the comedy this person is responsible for cannot under any circumstance boil down to poop jokes and pratfalls. If that's the best these writers can do, they should quit and go work in another profession. The scene in Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones where Obi-Wan Kenobi casually tells a drug dealer to go rethink his life wasn't the funniest thing in the world, but it got a legitimate chuckle out of the audience when I first saw it. Of course, Han Solo has his funny moments, only one of which was a little too over-the-top for what I want to see in Rogue One, which is when he runs away from the Stormtroopers. Less of that, more of the lines like "Who's scruffy looking?"
3. Lineage of the Faceless Enemy
Speaking of the ineptitude of the Stormtroopers who should have been able to shoot Han Solo and change the course of the original trilogy right there in the hallway, there's a lot to be discussed when it comes to the Imperial forces of evil.
Except, you know, they're not. In fact, the piss poor aim the Stormtroopers have is not just made fun of, it's actually been subject of thousands of fan theories about why this happens. These guys are the best in the galaxy, feared in every system, but they can't shoot a gun properly? How bad must the rejects at the academy be, then? Do they just shoot themselves in the face immediately when they're given a blaster?
One theory that I actually like quite a bit is that there's a combination of two factors at play: a) technological decay and b) hubris. In Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace we see human beings and Jedi go up against the cheap robots of the Trade Federation. We learn later on that these are mass produced as disposable and are basically nothing but walking gun turrets. The Republic, on the other hand, have the Clonetroopers, which are a trained and sentient militia based on the genetics of one of the best bounty hunters in the galaxy, Jango Fett. They kick ass, which is why they can mow down those droids like blades of grass. Eventually, the Clonetroopers turn on the Jedi with Order 66, and that's where our story leaves off.
a) What if the reason why the Stormtroopers aren't as proficient as the Clonetroopers is due to their age? It's been over 20 years since Attack of the Clones by the time we get to A New Hope, and the clones are said to go through a process that speeds up their aging. Their cellular structure has to be weird, and they probably break down quicker than normal humans. Also, if you think The Empire can just whip up a new batch, it takes time to breed them and the host, Jango Fett, is dead. Which is a better quality picture: the original or the copy? Trying to breed more clones from a clone's DNA wouldn't yield results as strong as from the true source itself.
b) If the Clonetroopers are so much of a pain to deal with and such a high expense, maybe The Emperor decided they weren't necessary. They already have taken control of the galaxy and people recognize the armor, so it would be cheaper and easier to just put normal people behind the helmets and cut your losses than to try to build a whole new army. Maybe The Empire thinks enough fear has been built up that there doesn't need to be as much actual demonstration of what should be feared until, you know, that big honkin' Death Star shows up and puts a new definition on the term.
What I'd like to see is for that darker tone to be represented with Stormtroopers who are good shots and can kill with precision, but also incorporating Clonetroopers and even the leftover droids. They're valuable resources that wouldn't have been just cast aside, right? Maybe there's a scene where a few Clonetroopers are starting to break down and can't perform as well as before and that allows our heroes to get the jump on them. Maybe they can even reprogram some of those Super Battle Droids to fight for their side. How cool would it be to see a Droideka fighting for the rebellion? There shouldn't just be no more droids or Clonetroopers in Rogue One.
4. The Absence of the Jedi Order
As much as you will hear me say that my least favorite part of Star Wars is the aliens and spaceships and that I prefer the storyline of the Jedi and the Force, I'm not of the group that wants there to be a Jedi on the team for this mission. In fact, I want there to be a noticeable absence of Jedi.
My favorite movie of all time is Terminator 2: Judgment Day and one of the reasons it works so well is because it puts a twist on what the first film did. In The Terminator, it's pretty clear that every cyborg is out to kill every human, but wouldn't it be interesting if one of those machines was actually helping John Connor instead of hunting him? With Star Wars, though, we've already seen the Jedi helping out the Republic and fighting at the forefront of the Rebel Alliance. This is an era where Han Solo thinks they don't even exist and Imperial guards have the balls to tell Darth Vader that he's an idiot for believing in a false religion. The opposite effect should take place here, where we see what it's like to not have a superhero in your ranks. Even in the original trilogy, Luke was the savior and the ace in the hole. What's a rebellion to do when it's just a ragtag group of grunts and soldiers? As skilled as they may be, they're nothing compared to someone who is tapped into The Force.
Do the Inquisitors have a role as the Big Bad that is almost unstoppable to get past? Does anyone remember the Jedi Order? Did they fall for Palpatine's trick when he blamed things on the Jedi and made them outlaws? The lack of Jedi needs to be addressed in some fashion, but there's no need to create some new Jedi that happened to survive extinction other than Yoda and Kenobi just for the sake of adding him/her into the film.
5. Darth Mother F'n Vader
I know I said the Jedi shouldn't be in here, but I didn't say the Sith should follow suit. In fact, Darth Vader has to have a presence one way or another. He's too big of a character at this time frame not to be shown in some capacity, even if it's just for a quick cameo.
Ideally, what I'd like to see is for Vader to be the looming threat that comes hammering down at the end of the film. All throughout the setup, there's talk that Darth Vader may be involved and people are deathly afraid of what would happen if they crossed paths with him. Thankfully for them, they manage to avoid him for the better part of the story, but unfortunately, their luck runs out. Vader at this point is an absolute beast with no real morality, putting down anyone in his way. It would be awesome to see him show up as the embodiment of impending doom. Once he's onto you, you are screwed. People can sacrifice themselves in a failed attempt to stop him so the others can continue the mission, but he just keeps coming. By some luck (and the will of The Force), very few of our heroes are able to escape with the plans in tact. The Empire has failed to prevent this leak from happening, and someone has to answer for it. This is where Vader, in true form, can use The Force to strangle the primary general, admiral, governor, or whoever is the man in charge. The guy does like to choke people.