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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Entertainment Weekly Covers 'Rogue One'

Entertainment Weekly is putting the spotlight on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this week, delivering a treasure trove of new photos and details about the film, including the confirmation of a certain Sith Lord's appearance and the unexpected revelation that a Clone Wars character will be returning. (And no, it's not Ahsoka, unfortunately.) 
The cover of the magazine shows Rebel heroes Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk) standing on a sandy beach, with Imperial AT-CT's, TIE Strikers, and the Death Star itself looming behind them.

Last month, a major leak unveiled the names of Rogue One's colorful cast of characters. EW is now confirming these, as well as some fresh new details about the characters. First up is Jyn Erso, who is unsurprisingly described as a "streetwise delinquent." Just like the trailer showed us, the Rebellion will detain Jyn and offer her a chance to use her skills and knowledge on a top-secret mission, and reduce her jailtime in return. 
It's clear that Jyn has had a rough past, and much of that may be due to her father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). As Making Star Wars said back in January, Galen is a Robert Oppenheimer-type character, in the sense that he has certain "doomsday knowledge" that both the Rebellion and the Empire are after. One can only imagine the family drama that will ensue when Galen discovers that his daughter is trying to steal the schematics for the very battle station that he designed. 

Jyn's partner, Captain Cassian Andor, isn't as much of a loose cannon. EW describes him as a "by-the-book Rebel intelligence officer" who's "committed, steady, and practical." While Jyn is a novice in the Rebel Alliance, Cassian will bring some much-needed experience to the table. 
Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) is probably the closest thing to a Jedi in Rogue One. He's a "warrior monk" who holds great faith in the ways of the Jedi and has "used his spirituality to overcome his blindness." The concept of individuals who choose to follow the path of the Force despite their lack of Force sensitivity is fascinating, and it's entirely new to Star Wars
Baze Malbus (left) and Chirrut Imwe (right)
In comparison, Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) is more of a Han Solo type. He doesn't believe in ancient religions and prefers the tangible reality of his own blaster, but he'll still go along with Chirrut's spirituality out of respect for his friend. Meanwhile, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), seen below, is the team's lead pilot who seems to have a volatile temperament that rivals Jyn's. In the context of stereotypical supporting characters, Baze is the weapons expert and Bodhi is the mechanic. 
K-2SO might be just as much of a comic relief character as as the other droids we've seen in Star Wars (C-3PO, BB-8, battle droids, etc.), but he won't be a nice guy. Director Gareth Edwards describes him as "the antithesis of C-3PO" and "Chewbacca's personality in a droid's body," meaning that he says what's on his mind and doesn't hold back. He'll be seeking redemption for "past wrongs," which are most likely related to his prior service as an Imperial security droid. 
The chief villain of the film, Director Orson Krennic, is an "ambitious Imperial apparatchik" who commands his squadron of death troopers against the Rebels because he wants to climb up the Empire's chain of command. Story writer John Knoll said that "the bad guy is a lot more terrifying when he's really smart, and really effective," suggesting that Krennic will be a formidable opposition to the Rebels. 
The Director's most powerful enforcer is none other than Darth Vader himself. That's right, after months upon months of rumors, EW has set the record straight: Vader is in Rogue One. He'll be voiced by James Earl Jones, of course, and played by "a variety of large-framed performers." The Sith Lord's exact role in the Empire is a little unclear; the only person he truly answers to is the Emperor, and Krennic will certainly fear getting on the receiving end of a Force choke. 
Forest Whitaker's character has been shrouded in mystery, and now we know why. He's playing Saw Gerrera, who first appeared in the fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Saw was a hot-headed guerilla fighter on his home planet of Onderon. He fought with Anakin and Obi-Wan against the Seperatists, and paid the price for his resistance when he lost his sister, Steela. 
Since then, Saw has become something of a rebel extremist with questionable morals. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told EW that we should "consider him kind of a battered veteran... He's on the fringe of the Rebel Alliance. Even [they] are a little concerned about him." He's definitely an ally of the central Rebel team, but he's not afraid to challenge them with his own tactics.
This is the first time that an original Clone Wars character has made their way to the big screen, which is an unexpected and impressive accomplishment. It proves that the transfer of characters and other references between the Star Wars films and the animated television – both The Clone Wars and Rebels – isn't just a one-way street. 

A second trailer for Rogue One is expected on Friday, July 15th, during the film's hour-long panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe. What do you think of these new revelations? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why You Shouldn't Worry About 'Rogue One'

The recent weeks have been plagued with nasty rumors about the status of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Following the original report that Disney had ordered extensive reshoots during the summer, more stories started to pour in, including those that claimed that a new director was conducting the reshoots and almost 50% of the film was going to be scrapped and replaced by new footage. But although it may be true that there is some behind-the-scenes conflict at Lucasfilm and Disney, there's no reason to really worry about the finished result of the film. 
First of all, this is Disney we're talking about. Despite the fears that they would make The Force Awakens too kid-friendly, the studio proved that they could incorporate serious themes while maintaining a fun sense of adventure when the film hit theaters. Clearly they understand the Star Wars tone pretty well, so if they saw a cut of Rogue One and thought it missed the mark, then maybe they were actually right.

And yes, they are the kind of corporation that has a lot of money and wants even more, but Disney has shown repeatedly that they care about making good movies—or at the very least, they've recognized the positive correlation between the critical reception and box office sum of a film. The quality of Rogue One – whether or not it's good – determines how many casual moviegoers will buy tickets, and therefore could make a difference of hundreds of millions of dollars for them; they have motivation to create the best product possible.
Additionally, we really don't know if major changes are even being made to the film. When news sites hear that the (arguably) most anticipated movie of the year is receiving an unusually-long period of reshoots, there's an obvious tendency to spread rumors about the motives behind them; for example, when Suicide Squad underwent reshoots in April, there were reports that "more humor" was being added (due to the complaints about Batman v Superman), which the director completely denied

Perhaps the best way to sum this up would be a quote from Rogue One star Mads Mikkelsen, who confirmed to The Independent that he was planning to attend reshoots and gave his own perspective of their true nature: 
"Basically, all the big films I have done always have reshoots, it is part of their budget. They’re either not super happy with a scene bit, the way we were acting, or maybe there’s something they want to add. It’s not a new thing, it happens with every film. Whether it’s bigger or less, I have no idea, I have nothing to compare with. It’s the same film, it’s just adding little bits here and there to do the final polishing."
One could certainly argue that Mikkelsen wouldn't exactly admit it if his film was in serious trouble, but he does seem to have an accurate, insider understanding of what the term "reshoots" means. In the same interview, he also suggested that Disney must "love" all these rumors because of all the discussion it's generating about the Star Wars Anthology film. 
Whether the Rogue One reshoots are factual or have just been exaggerated and twisted by the pageview-hungry media, we can still be assured that the film is in the hands of people who genuinely want it to live up to the Star Wars name...even if there's a few bumps on the road to that objective. Are you worried about Rogue One? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.