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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

'Rogue One' Facing Trouble at Disney?

With a stellar cast, intriguing premise, and the Star Wars name attached to it, Rogue One seemed like a sure thing even before the teaser trailer was released and met near-universal praise. Unfortunately, it now seems that things aren't going as well behind the scenes. Page Six is now reporting that Disney is unhappy with the first cut of the film and has ordered "four weeks of expensive reshoots" in July, explaining that the film has apparently "fallen short" of the cinematic heights of The Force Awakens
Reshoots are fairly common for a film of Rogue One's caliber, but they're rarely for such a long period of time. Furthermore, the fact that they're "expensive" suggests that the filmmakers are adding a significant amount of new footage, rather than just redoing some of the more minor scenes. 

The Hollywood Reporter has corroborated the original report, stating that reshoots will occur in mid-June, with the goal to "lighten the mood, bring some levity into the story and restore a sense of fun to the adventure." This added information is particularly worrisome, since it paints the current version of Rogue One as an unnecessarily dark, dreary bore, much like March's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Unlike the critically-despised superhero film, Rogue One can still be salvaged, but it's never good when the studio clashes with the director's vision of the film. 
Though it hasn't been confirmed, Disney's other motive for ordering reshoots could be that the first cut of the film didn't promise the huge box office success that they had anticipated. We can speculate that the reshoots will increase the much-rumored role of Darth Vader, whose presence is appealing to even casual moviegoers, and therefore could be seen as a boost to the box office for every scene he's in. 
No matter how displeased Disney truly is with Rogue One, it's not a good sign that rumors like these are already circulating, even if they turn out to be false. Of all the blockbusters coming out this fall – including Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Marvel's Doctor Strange, and video game adaption Assassin's Creed – the first Star Wars Anthology film seemed like the safest bet until now. 

What do you think of the Rogue One reshoots? What elements do you hope they'll add? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Star Wars Celebration Europe Key Art Revealed

This afternoon, Lucasfilm decided to get ahead of any future Rogue One leaks (following last week's treasure trove of images) by revealing some gorgeous artwork and brand-new details about the villains of the film. The key art for Star Wars Celebration Europe features the Millennium Falcon, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker, Rey, and Finn representing the Sequel Trilogy, but the majority of it appropriately focuses on the characters of Rogue One
Jyn Erso's goggles are reminiscent of the pair that Rey wears in her first scenes in The Force Awakens. Add that to Jyn's position directly underneath Rey, and you can bet that this artwork will rejuvenate the rumors of a parental connection between them (despite the fact that Daisy Ridley completely denied it). 
Cassian Andor is seen to the left of Jyn, while fellow rebels Chirrut and Baze are similarly armed to the teeth on the other side. It's worth noting that Chirrut's crossbow-like weapon matches up with what we saw in the leaked images. The sinister Director Krennic poses in the center. 

The Star Wars Show, the new and occasionally-cringeworthy official web series that first unveiled this key art, confirmed the names of the Imperial forces that the Rebels will be facing. The black-armored stormtroopers to the right of Krennic are known as death troopers, suggesting that they won't be taking prisoners when they hunt down the guys who stole the Death Star plans. 
In the bottom left corner stands the shoretrooper, a unit seemingly trained for beachside combat. You'd think that the Empire wouldn't need a whole specialized class of stormtrooper for such a specific type of conflict, but the trailer showed us that a significant portion of the film will take place on a beach terrain. 
The Imperial walkers on the far left were seen in the climax of the trailer. Apparently they're not just an earlier version of the classic AT-AT; they're known as AT-ACT's, All Terrain Armored Cargo Transports. We can only guess what kind of cargo these behemoths will be carrying in the film, but since our heroes were explicitly seen running towards the tanks (instead of fleeing for their lives), it must be something of value to the Rebel Alliance. Perhaps the Death Star plans themselves will be found in the AT-ACT's yellow-plated compartments. 
Star Wars Celebration Europe will be held July 15-17 in London, and it's rumored that the second trailer for Rogue One will premiere at the event. What do you think of the key art? Which Imperial trooper are you most excited for? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Major 'Rogue One' Character Details Leaked

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's first trailer featured a whole lot of memorable character moments, but Felicity Jones' Jyn Erso was the only one explicitly named. Thanks to Edelweiss, we now have some much-needed details on the characters and vehicles in Rogue One, as well as a confirmation of an anticipated cameo, straight out of the film's official Visual Story Guide which is set to hit bookshelves in January. 
Here's the names and basic descriptions of the film's diverse group of heroes:
  • Jyn Erso is described as a "highly skilled soldier and warrior," which is pretty much the sense that we got from the shots of her kicking serious stormtrooper butt in the trailer. 
  • Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) is a captain of the Rebel Alliance. His brief appearances in the trailer had suggested that, unlike Jyn, he's already working for the Rebels when the film starts. 
  • Baze (Jiang Wen) is a "freelance assassin." Since he's constantly seen carrying a hefty rifle and a mysterious container on his back, he'll most likely be the team's ammunition expert. 
  • K-250 (Alan Tudyk) is an "enforcer droid" that seems to have been reprogrammed by the Rebel Alliance. This is our first good look at the character, and his design certainly appears to be unlike anything seen in Star Wars before. The rest of the team will probably have doubts about working alongside a machine that still has the symbol of their sworn enemy on its arm. 
  • Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) is unfortunately simply described as a "Rebel soldier." His goggles suggest that he'll be the team's token tech expert/engineer. 
  • Pao (actor unknown) is a "fierce warrior." His species is still unknown, but he somewhat resembles a lizardlike Trandoshan, the same species as infamous bounty hunter Bossk. 
  • Chirrut (Donnie Yen) is a "spiritual warrior." The trailer previously established that he would be a blind man still capable of whacking stormtroopers with his trusty cane. Now we can see that he'll also wield a very unique, crossbow-like weapon. "Spiritual warrior" sounds a lot like a Jedi, and that would explain how he can fight so well without seeing his enemies, but it seems like Rogue One is trying to shy away from the ways of the Force.
  • Bistan (actor unknown) is another "fierce warrior" and rounds out the team's alien members. His appearance is something of a cross between the hair and facial features of a Wookiee, and the height of an Ewok. 
And here's the villains that will match these heroes: 
  • Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is the Director of the Imperial Military, putting him at odds with the group of Rebels. Once again, his dramatic white cape, authoritative pose, and handheld blaster pin him as the type of villain who has a sense of style, yet isn't afraid of getting in the heat of the conflict.
  • The stormtroopers and Death Troopers unfortunately have identical bios, so we still don't know the exact purpose of the Death Squad or how much fear they should be inspiring among the Rebels. 
  • Darth Vader's form is clearly visible in the background, which serves as strong evidence of his much-rumored role in the film – though let's be honest, we all knew he was going to show up. 
Rogue One will obviously feature classic Star Destroyers, TIE Fighters, and X-Wings, but there's also some images and diagrams of some new vehicles we'll see in the film. First is the Rebel U-Wing, which (appropriately) looks like an ancestor of the X-Wing: 
Throughout the Star Wars canon and Expanded Universe, there have been dozens of different TIE-class ships. The Striker is the newest member of the family, sporting sleek dual wings:
Here's a better look at the small Imperial tank first glimpsed in the trailer, as well as the new type of stormtrooper that pilots it: 
Lastly, there's an image of Rogue One's heroes and villains posing side-by-side, with Vader's head curiously placed in the middle. Could this be a sign that there's still some conflict within him regarding his shift to the Dark Side of the Force? Probably not, but this is still the kind of poster that you'd want hanging on your bedroom wall:
Disney has apparently reached out to HitFix regarding this new plethora of images, recognizing that it's an "unauthorized leak" and claiming that it's also incorrect. Although it's certainly true that the banner on the corner of each picture indicates it as unfinished work, we also have to keep in mind that they wouldn't stick anything on a tentative draft of Rogue One's Visual Story Guide unless there were at least some plans or concepts of including it in the film. And of course, it's not like Disney would admit that they messed up and accidentally published accurate, spoiler-y artwork online. 

What do you think of Rogue One's characters? Which one are most excited to see? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tom Hardy Will Cameo in 'Episode VIII'

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was known featured a variety of surprise appearances from familiar stars, including Simon Pegg as Unkar Plutt, the cast of The Raid as Kanjiklub, Daniel Craig as the stormtrooper that Rey performs a Jedi mind trick on, Greg Grunberg and Ken Leung as members of the Resistance, and a handful of Game of Thrones actors sprinkled around the film. It's unknown how much Episode VIII will continue to make use of cameos, but Making Star Wars now has details on an appearance by Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant star Tom Hardy. A mild SPOILER ALERT should be assumed.
According to the report, Hardy will carry on the new tradition of dignified English action stars secretly cameoing as helmeted servants of the First Order. He's playing a stormtrooper who knew FN-2187 back when they were both training at the academy. While Finn's on a "secret mission" for the Resistance in Episode VIII, the two old friends reunite. Unaware of Finn's defection, Hardy's trooper assumes that he's just spying on the Resistance and congratulates him on his promotion, before letting him go.
If this report is correct, then like Daniel Craig, Hardy will have a particularly humorous cameo, although he probably won't be officially confirmed to be the man under the stormtrooper helmet until the film's release. We also can't expect the Hardy himself to make any comment corroborating the new rumor; when originally questioned about his involvement in The Force Awakens, Craig completely denied it and dismissed the very idea of playing an "extra" in another movie. 

Are you looking forward to Tom Hardy's reported cameo? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.