Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (or as I still stubbornly call it, Star Wars: Rogue One) is one of the strangest films of the year for me. On the surface, I should be pumped for it: a new Star Wars movie with a grittier, more war-torn atmosphere? Consider me sold…is what I figured I would be saying if I heard about the project three or so years ago. But the film is now just a couple months out and, to be honest, my anticipation for it has failed to reach the heights of many of the other blockbusters released this year. I don’t know what it is about Rogue One but, to use the parlance of the franchise itself, I have a bad feeling about this.
Or had, at least, until the release of the final trailer for the film.
For months I’ve been hearing people salivate over the first few previews of Rogue One, and I just didn’t understand it. The trailers weren’t bad or anything, but could best be described as bland. I got a huge Jurassic World vibe from them, and it wasn’t just the obnoxious “piano cover of famous theme song” that lead to that. It was also the fact that the trailers refused to really show what the film was about, and not in a way like The Force Awakens in which you can see a mystery box beginning to form. Here it seemed more cautious, almost holding something back. Like a mystery box that ultimately is empty.
And really that was probably the biggest problem with the Rogue One marketing thus far: Disney really thought they could take The Force Awakens approach here, to mixed results. I’m okay with a trailer keeping things close to the chest (and arguably most trailers fail at doing that nowadays), but Rogue One seemed to give me NOTHING to work with. The trailers were very vague about what exactly was going on, which of course lead to the now infamous accounts of people thinking this is Episode VIII, when the actual film is far from it.
That is a huge issue for Disney going into the release of the spin-off, and it seems like they made this trailer specifically to combat the audience confusion. And for the most part, it seemed to work.
Finally we get to see some of the nuts and bolts of the story here, with Jyn Erso’s father (played by the great Mads Mikkelsen) seemingly a big part of the overall story. By far he’s the most interesting part of the equation, and having an Oppenheimer-type as part of this whole thing adds a more grounded, fascinating viewpoint to the mix. Let’s hope he’s not the Bryan Cranston of the film, and gets killed off twenty minutes in.
Which I guess is still my biggest fear about this film: Rogue One is coming from the director of Godzilla, a film I found to be a massive disappointment despite such incredible trailers. Hopefully the fact that I’ve been so very mixed on these trailers will actually end up being a good sign. Then again, it certainly wasn’t for Batman v. Superman, so…yeah, the fear is certainly still there.
But hey, fear leads to anger et al., so maybe it’s best I just stay cautiously optimistic. And like I said, this trailer finally gave me the ability to do just that — I now have a little bit more knowledge what the story is, who these characters are, and what tone the film is really aiming for. The characters actually speaking is certainly a good sign in this department, but the key to this trailer working so well is, honestly, confidence.
Rogue One has been hampered with reports of reshoots and behind the scenes struggles and what have you, and I think Disney’s personal apprehension was quite visible to me in the first few trailers. But now that the film is so close to release, a final cut of Rogue One is almost certainly complete (or at least very, very close to it.) So in crafting this trailer, we get a fuller, more refined look at the movie, to what I would argue is its extreme benefit. I still have a lot of apprehension about the film, but at least I can finally say I’m excited to see it.
Let’s hope that doesn’t bite me in the ass.