Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

They didn’t lie. Rogue One was certainly a Star Wars Story and a pretty damn good one at that. Equal parts thrilling, dark and hopeful.

The concept is brilliant, focusing an entire film on the theft of the plans to the Death Star which served as the impetus of A New Hope, the very first Star Wars film. It’s such an important detail, but one that most probably never gave a second thought to. Credit to John Knoll for spotting that seed and Gary Whitta for developing a story and creating a whole crew of characters that are new but feel quite right in the Star Wars universe.

First off, fans can breathe a sigh of relief.  The widely reported reshoots do not impact the viewing experience. Rogue One is not a damaged, incoherent film in any way. Is it a perfect film? No. But that doesn’t mean that anything is broken. My complaints after one viewing are all fairly small.

From the get-go we know that this is not our typical Star Wars film. Sure, it begins with the usual “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” but missing is the subsequent text crawl that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in every other Star Wars film previously. This was an inspired decision, one that subconsciously disorients the viewer and puts them in a position they’ve never been in with a Star Wars film before. We have zero idea of where we’re being dropped in the Star Wars universe. We’re not entering with the big picture having just been spoon fed to us. Anything is possible. This is followed by a VERY Star Wars moment, a ship in outer space. But this familiar opening is subverted since we find ourselves in a flashback, a first in Star Wars cinematic history (Rey’s force vision in The Force Awakens is not a flashback). It’s like they’re kinda, sorta playing by the rules, but not. Until I was sitting there watching it unfold, I hadn’t realized how much I’d gotten used to the way a Star Wars film is presented. It was exciting to be in that universe and have things be just a little bit different and not knowing what to expect.

The plot of Rogue One focuses on Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones. Jyn is tough as nails as a result of what she’s seen and how she was raised. She is stoic, even when over her head but there’s a vulnerability that Jones brings to the character that adds an important dimension. But make no mistake, as much as the film hinges on Jyn’s story, this film is an ensemble piece and they’ve assembled a very deep bench of talented and diverse actors and actresses unseen thus far in any Star Wars film, which is great news. There is representation for nearly everyone in the film and it never feels gimmicky or forced.

Most intriguing among them is Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.  Andor is man of mystery, a character who operates in the gray area, doing bad things for a good cause. He is a means to an end and a character we haven’t seen the likes of before in any Star Wars film, a dark character in a world without much hope. Andor is another example of the way that Rogue One separates itself apart from past Star Wars films. A good guy has never been this bad before. In the other films the characters are either white hats or black hats. (This is where some will bring up Anakin. It’s very different because Anakin was never doing bad things for altrusitic reasons) That is not the case in Rogue One. People who had reservations about Han shooting first are likely to take umbrage with Andor and his actions early in the film. I’ve heard people refer to Cassian Andor as the Han Solo of Rogue One. He’s not. People have a tendency to put characters in a bucket with one of the others that have come before. It’s a mistake and a disservice to well written characters to do this. Han Solo is a fast talking, charming smuggler, which is the polar opposite of Andor, who is a (seemingly) cold and calculating soldier doing whatever it takes for the rebellion.

Also of note is Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, stealing nearly every scene he’s in with his daredevil-like fighting prowess and zen-like optimism. Chirrut is the closest thing we have to a Jedi in Rogue One. I wouldn’t want to spoil his backstory but suffice to say this is with good reason. Also noteworthy is Ben Medelsohn as Orson Crennic who delivers a chilling performance, making me wish we’d gotten this same intensity from Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars fans have come to expect that we’ll have multiple films to explore new characters and that is Rogue One’s real problem. I wanted more time with characters like Cassian Andor, Jyn Erso, Saw Gerrera and Chirrut Îmwe. I wanted to see these characters journey prior to Rogue One. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the plot of Rogue One is utilitarian and has to operate at breakneck speed from the very beginning. The plot is literally life or death and there is precious little time to stop and smell the roses, which I appreciated. But the result is that the time we have with these characters feels truncated and left me wanting more. I’m sure that we’ll be getting a lot more of these characters via novels and comics and all the other avenues that Disney have in their arsenal for fans to get their Star Wars fix, but none of it is a suitable replacement for writers, actors and filmmakers all collaborating to bring a performance to life onscreen.

Going in, I was especially worried with how they were going to use Darth Vader in this film after early rumors indicated that we might see Vader in heavy action. It wouldn’t make sense that the very stiff looking Vader of A New Hope would be running around pulling ships out of the sky in action in Rogue One. I was happy to see how they handled Vader in the film. His last scene had me grinning like a fool.

Beyond Vader, it would have been very easy to fill Rogue One with too many nods to the subsequent Original Trilogy films. There are some great references in there, that will have fans excited, but it didn’t feel like they went over the line. This brings me to one of my main issues. Without revealing too much, there is a character in the film that has been brought back by use of CGI and it just doesn’t look right. I’m never that guy who whines about bad CGI, I’m usually pretty forgiving with that stuff, but this is a Star Wars film. Spend whatever you need to spend and take the time to make it look right. Or just don’t do it. As cool as it was that we were seeing this character, the CGI took me right out of it. I’m sure as a still shot the character it looks spot on, but in motion among real actors, it stuck out like a sore thumb. The rendering looked far too smooth and it felt like the dialogue would fall out of sync at any moment. There is another character brought to life with CGI that also bothered me a little, but at least it was brief. Less could have been more in both of these cases, though.

Ultimately, I had a great time with Rogue One. There is something in the film for every Star Wars fan. A credit to the cast and filmmaking team for actually expanding the Star Wars universe in a new and exciting way. I hope that Lucasfilm and Disney take note of what was accomplished with this film and apply what they’ve learned to other upcoming films under the “A Star Wars Story” banner. How cool would it be to have a television arm of Star Wars stories like this? An anthology series with wildly different types of stories that take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? It’s big galaxy with a big sandbox, let’s get even more talented filmmakers in there and have some fun building things.

I’m sure you have your tickets already, if not get some. I can’t wait to give this one another look, or ten.

What an amazing time it is to be a Star Wars fan!

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How Josh Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

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by: Josh Outred

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as most of you probably already know (although it’s becoming apparent that Disney would prefer more people knew at this stage), is the first in a series of standalone Star Wars films set away from the main Skywalker saga, it will tell the story of how a rag-tag band of Rebels stole the plans to the Empire’s first Death Star. The cast and crew of the film have referred to Rogue One as a gritty, on-the-ground war movie, something many Star Wars fans, myself included, have been waiting for.

However, it’s no secret that since the film was first announced, I haven’t exactly been its biggest supporter. As a huge Star Wars guy, this lack of enthusiasm surprised even me. How could I not be excited for this film? It’s Star Wars, naturally I expected to be ecstatic about the announcement of this film, and I just wasn’t.

Now, I’ve come to realize that initial disappointment came down to one main reason, at the time we were all anticipating the release of The Force Awakens (and personally I was hyper-focused on that film), I wanted to embrace the special time leading up to the seventh edition in the Star Wars saga, a film so many of us had waited years for. Rogue One was announced in the midst of all that excitement and anticipation and I just truly couldn’t focus on it, or be excited for it.

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The Force Awakens was such a highly anticipated film, most Star Wars fans never thought we’d ever see a sequel to Return of the Jedi, so when its announcement finally came I think I speak for everyone when I say it was memorable. I couldn’t believe we were finally going to see Luke, Han and Leia on the silver screen again. What was the story? Were Han and Leia still a couple? So many questions, so few answers, with infinite possibilities. It made for an exciting time. The thought of seeing another story with those characters made me (and many other fans) incredibly emotional. Frankly it still does.

Rogue One bought about a dilemma for me, the story was said to focus on the stolen Death Star plans that lead directly into the original entry into the Star Wars universe, A New Hope. This was a story that as a child I played out with my action figures on my bedroom floor – yet I was not excited in the slightest. I decided that I needed more time to soak it all in. First of all, I needed to see The Force Awakens and take in all that it had to offer, maybe then I’d begin the feverish anticipation that others already felt about it?

January came around, after seeing Episode VII a number of times I began to turn my attention timidly to December, still not quite sure of what to expect. Was I really ready to leave Luke and Leia again after only just being reacquainted with my childhood heroes?

April arrived and so did the first teaser for Rogue One, at last we were getting a glimpse at this so called “war movie”. The teaser worked on a number of levels for me; however, I still wasn’t completely sold. I still wonder whether or not I was over my Force Awakens hangover at this point, we’d only just been introduced to brand new characters like Rey and Finn, so the thought of having to fall in love with a whole group of completely unfamiliar characters just a year later worried me. I really wanted to care about this film but something just wasn’t clicking into place.

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As we got further away from The Force Awakens and closer to Rogue One I started to wonder whether or not that I was ever going to feel ready for this departure from the saga films. The change, even though we were still in a galaxy far, far away, made me nervous. It wasn’t until the home release of Episode VII that my feelings started to sway in a different direction. After countless viewings of The Force Awakens, and the release of the first full trailer for Rogue One, something switched in me, I was ready; the change no longer frightened me like it had for so long.

After being thrust back into Star Wars in such a tonally and visually familiar way with The Force Awakens we were all on a nostalgic high, it seemed that everything we originally loved was back, and it was beautiful, however, I started to crave the newness that the spin-off’s had to offer. I was ready to jump into a new story with new characters in a somewhat unfamiliar world. The Force Awakens was very much a reintroduction to Star Wars and now I was beginning to feel like fresh locations and stories set in this familiar home were necessary for not just me, but the longevity of Star Wars itself.

As different as Rogue One will evidently be to what has come before it, Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) has clearly tried to keep this film feeling like Star Wars. Introducing new ships like the Rebel’s U-Wing and the Imperial’s TIE Striker, along with the new Death Trooper (pictured above), the aesthetic of Rogue One doesn’t sway from what we all know and love. The visually familiar aspect is key to keeping this film a Star Wars film, Gareth Edwards was even quoted in a recent interview with Empire Magazine as saying; we found if you go slightly to the left, its not Star Wars, its just some other sci-fi movie. But go too far the other way and it just feels like youre doing a karaoke number of what George has already done. I really appreciate his terminology here, he’s coming at it from the perspective that George Lucas is no longer at the helm of these films, and although it’s still the world he created, it’s now being shepherded forward by a new generation of filmmakers, who most importantly, have their own methods of telling a story from the page to the screen.

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It’s incredibly important to me that the new era of Star Wars films remain faithful to George’s vision and the world building he so brilliantly crafted, however, for these films to have the longevity and shelf life that the other Star Wars movies have so rightfully had, thresholds have to be crossed. It’s not just about staying safe and trying to stay as visually close to what George created, it’s about telling a story, an original story that reflects the creativity of the director at the helm of the film, to respect what’s come before but progress Star Wars storytelling forward for new generations, for years to come.

It’s by this reasoning that my anticipation level for Rogue One went from zero to a hundred in quite a short space of time. Watching The Force Awakens over and over I just found myself wanting the unknown, the unfamiliar, to go forward in this vast canvas of potential storytelling and find new iconic characters and imagery to love and behold.

Although Rogue One is set in a an era very near and dear to us, the creatives behind it have clearly tried their utmost to push the boundaries and present to us a film that will give us the comfort of our favorite living room chair, whilst adding some new décor to the house. It’s a truly incredible time to be a Star Wars fan, I feel like now is the time to step into the unknown and embrace all that the future films have to offer.

Now that we’re are 9 months post The Force Awakens release and on the cusp of this first spin-off film, I think I can finally say with confidence- I’m ready!

Check Out the New Star Wars: Rogue One Celebration Reel!

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-Chief

While it doesn’t pack the emotional punch of the behind the scenes reel that we were given for The Force Awakens, (that one made me tear up) this one is still pretty great. We see a lot of new looks at action, characters and creatures we’re not totally familiar with which is always welcome as well as some familiar locales and other stuff.

Take a look!

Daisy Ridley Says Rogue One’s Jyn Erso is NOT Rey’s Mother

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer  

“Jyn Erso is Rey’s mom. Jyn Erso is Rey’s mom. Jyn Erso is Rey’s mom….”

That was all the internet could say after seeing the Rogue One trailer for this December’s first Star Wars Spinoff film. Everyone was desperate for an answer to a question that I don’t think should be answered at all – the question of the parentage of Rey, the orphan from the planet Jakku who has an uncanny knack of using the Force introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

But to everyone who NEEDS that type of closure to make themselves feel good – well we might have some bad news for you.

At the MTV Movie Awards, Daisy Ridley (the actress who portrays Rey) was asked about what she thinks regarding all this “Jyn Erso is Rey’s mom” speculation running rampant:

I’m not being funny, you guys, but just because she’s white and got brown hair … it doesn’t mean she’s my mom.

I think the amazing thing about [The Force Awakens] is that Finn and Rey don’t come from anywhere, and they find a place. So to me, it’s funny that people think it’s so important, because I don’t really think it is.

Could Ridley be hinting at the main Star Wars films branching outside of the usual Skywalker family tree and following the story of another space-faring family lineage in future films?

We might have to wait until the next two films of the proper trilogy come out so that means we might be waiting until sometime in 2019 (which in this day and age of instant gratification is akin to torture). But I’m all for it. Good things are worth waiting for – and a story like this should be treated with the respect it deserves.

Darth Vader Rogue One Casting News!

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

Even though we didn’t see him in the teaser trailer rumors have persisted that Darth Vader would make his presence felt in the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One. Taking place just as the Death Star is coming to completion and focusing on a group of rebels tasked to steal the plans of the Empire’s ultimate weapon it would make sense to see one of cinema’s greatest villains grace the screen one more time.

Flickering Myth has sources that say that yes the Jedi-turned-Sith will be in the film and that he has already been cast.

Actor Spencer Wilding has been tasked with bringing the man in black to life on film. Wilding has had minor parts in many major films like the Harry Potter series, Pan, Jupiter Ascending and Victor Frankenstein. Many people will most likely remember him as the blue alien guard who stole Star-Lord’s Walkman and headphones in Guardians Of The Galaxy.

FM has been told that Wilding is suited up and even running lines. It is unlikely though that the actor will be doing the actual voice work for Vader. While it hasn’t been confirmed, Making Star Wars is pretty sure that James Earl Jones will lend his dulcet tones to make the heavy breathing sounds for Darth Vader once again.

I’m willing to give Flickering Myth the benefit of the doubt on this one. They did scoop everyone and nailed down Scoot McNairy’s character in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice so they do have the right people in the right places.

I’m just waiting for the next trailer, which will hopefully end with the rebels opening a door only to run in and hear the iconic inhale and exhale of one angry Sith, confirming this for the fans once and for all.

Now With 50+ Images! Check Out the First Trailer to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!!

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by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief

Wow, here it is, the first trailer to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Take a look!

And just like that we now have our first real look at what’s in store for us with the first Star Wars spinoff film. I’d seen a few things previously, (that I’ve unfortunately been unable to report on) that had me really believing in this film. To be honest, I was sold when I’d first heard the ingenious idea to have a film centered around the theft of the Death Star plans that was only referenced in Episode IV, giving a new twist to the whole story that we already know so well.

Lucasfilm’s Rogue One, which takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, tells the story of unlikely heroes who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. 
 
The cast includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and Forest Whitaker. “Rogue One” is directed by Gareth Edwards, produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, and Simon Emanuel, executive produced by John Knoll and Jason McGatlin, and co-produced by John Swartz and Kiri Hart.

A Classic OT Star Wars Character May be Gearing up for Action in Rogue One

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

So we’ve all seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in some cases more than a few times) and we’re now gearing up for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, right? I know I am. A real war film involving the theft of the plans to the original Death Star set in the Original Trilogy timeline with no Jedi? This sounds like an original idea that really has some legs.

We’ve heard rumors of possible cameos from characters in that time period, more specifically a couple of old-school villains. And Making Star Wars has the good word that we’re going to see a classic villain in action.

These are possible SPOILERS so read ahead with caution…

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Still here? Good…let’s begin.

So it looks like we may be seeing none other than Darth Vader in action. And not just in action but apparently he’ll be kicking major ass!

The action sequences filmed are unknown, but there was work pitching the different ways Darth Vader could kill rebels on a battlefield with the Force and his lightsaber. The storyboard “pitches” showing decapitated rebels, people being dismembered by Vader throwing his sword, levitating bodies to make human shields and so on. The art was more violent than what we’ve seen Darth Vader do on screen before.

It seems as though they went through great effort to ensure Vader’s suit matches his suit exactly from A New Hope, down to the lenses in the helmet.

There are some people that will complain because we were told no Jedi and no Force in this film. To them I say – suck it up and deal, technically Vader is a Sith, not a Jedi anyway! The last time we saw Vader onscreen was when he was screaming like a candyass for Padme. I need this rectified. I need to see a badass Darth Vader killing dudes left and right.

December can’t come soon enough!!!

 

New Star Wars: Rogue One Details Might be Emerging

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

Now that everyone has seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens (everyone has seen it, right?) we can turn our attention to the future. And by future I mean the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is set to drop in a little under a year.

Disney and Lucas Film are notorious for not trying to maintain secrecy, but things do manage to slip through the cracks and that seems to be the case with these Rogue One tidbits.

Supposedly we might know what the name of Felicity Jones’ Rebel Alliance soldier now. The character’s name is…Lyra Erso.

This conclusion was reached by Making Star Wars, after combing through numerous casting lists that have stuntwoman Gabriele Fritz listed as the body double for “Lyra Erso.” Many people point out that Fritz and Jones are the same body size so this could very well be the character Jones is playing.

Or it could be a codename, or another character entirely. We’re not one hundred percent sure right now.

Other actors have been popping up on various casting websites and confirming what their roles are. Star Wars Underworld says that Bern Collaco is playing a Stormtrooper, Angus Cook is a mechanic and Nabilah Karim is a samurai, according to various trade and industry sites that the actors have posted on.

Finally we get Deadline asking Ben Mendelsohn about any secrets he can spill about Rogue One.

I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for anyone on those levels. That’s always the same, whether it be Bloodline or Star Wars or Neighbors, for that matter, which is an Australian soap. I wouldn’t tell. But you can expect something pretty special, I’d like to think. I was in the audience for number seven and it was delightful. It exceeded my wildest hopes and dreams for what it might be. It’s a beautiful film. So we’ve got something to reach for and that’s a good thing.

The man rumored to be the villain in the upcoming anthology film sure is one hell of a deflection artist.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set to hit theaters December 16, 2016.

Rumor: Christopher McQuarrie Did Some Work in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer

Star Wars fans are an obsessive bunch. Especially now with the saga continuing, via the regular Episodes as well as the off-shoot anthology series, any time a speck of news or rumor comes out the fan base is quick to pick up on it. So you have to wonder how the fans feel about the latest rumor that Christopher McQuarrie was brought on to do a little script doctoring for Rogue One.

Latino Review broke the story that the screenwriter / director came on a while back and did a little script work. He didn’t do a complete overhaul or anything drastic. The original script work was written by Gary Whitta, but he bowed out and then Chris Weitz took a whack at it. McQuarrie apparently came on for about two weeks, most likely to tighten up some nuts and bolts and smooth out some  edges.

If you’re looking for someone to doctor a script you could do far worse than McQuarrie. The man won an Oscar for The Usual Suspects, wrote the scripts for Valkyrie and Edge of Tomorrow, and wrote and directed Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and the VERY underrated gem Way Of The Gun.

With a resume like that McQuarrie is the man you want to try and toughen up a script. And with Rogue One being a war movie with no Jedi knights, tough is definitely the way you want to go.

Nothing has been confirmed yet by Disney or Lucasfilm, so we may just have to wait and see if McQuarrie gets a writer credit when the film comes out.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with director Gareth Edwards at the helm, is filming now for a December 16, 2016 release.

Will ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Feature a Post Credits Tease?

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by: Jay Carlson

We all know to expect a post credits scene during each new Marvel film, something to get everyone buzzing as they leave the theater. It’s a fun thing that more and more non-Marvel films have employed over the past few years.

Now it seems that we might be getting a similar tease after the credits roll for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Schmoes Know are reporting that there are plans for a Star Wars: Rogue One post credits tease.

This would not be altogether surprising as Disney owns both Marvel as well as Star Wars. Perhaps they are pushing for a similar model that resembles their highly successful Marvel films. Plus, Gareth Edwards has been shooting his film for a while now and there should be sufficient footage to throw something together in time for The Force Awakens’ release on December 18th.

What this tease could entail is pure speculation at this point. We don’t even know that there will be a tease at all. If the rumor is legitimate it could be a quick teaser trailer and maybe not a scene. But if that’s the case, just release a teaser trailer. I’d rather it be nothing Rogue One related at all. These spinoff films under the “A Star Wars Story” (BTW I still prefer “Star Wars Anthology”) banner should be handled as separate entities to the core “Episode” films. If they’re going to do this, they should stick within their own series and tease something for Episode VIII.

Don’t get me wrong, more Star Wars is always good, I just hope they aren’t throwing in after-credit Easter eggs because it’s in vogue right now, it’s a gimmick. If there is a reason for it, I’m all for it. Just don’t do it to do it, though. The reason Star Wars has never needed to be rebooted is because the films were built to be timeless. These new films should be built to be timeless, as well.

Is ‘Rogue One’ Bringing Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin Back From the Grave?

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas

For a man who has been dead for almost two decades, Peter Cushing may have one of the biggest roles in the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One.

Sources have been telling The Daily Mail that the studio is currently going through one of the most rigorous CGI re-creations ever to stay faithful to the character and bring Cushing as Tarkin back to life on the big screen:

“This is one of the most complex and costly CGI re-creations ever. Cushing is a pivotal plot line as he was the one to create Darth Vader and there’s a whole back story that will come out.”

One of the things people shit all over with the prequel trilogy as well as George Lucas’ tinkering with the original three films was the overuse and almost sickening reliance on computer graphics over conventional props and puppetry. This could turn out to backfire against the House of Mouse and LucasFilm in the long run.

People do love their throwbacks, and if the rumors are to be believed about the connections to the original trilogy, this will just be another in a long line of blasts from the past for the hardcore fans to geek out about.

I will give it up to the studio – at least they want to be as faithful to the actor as humanly possible. Even going so far so far as to watch hours of other footage to get the actors complete body down pat (in the films Cushing was in he always wore slippers and his feet weren’t visible):

“They are going through hours and hours of old footage from [Peter Cushing’s old] horror movies to recreate his legs and feet to produce realistic movements. It is eerie to see someone who has been dead for so long come to life on a screen.”

Hopefully this all works out for the best and it doesn’t seem hokey. I don’t think Disney would put out a subpar product or even let the process get this far unless it looked really good.

We’ll find out when Star Wars: Rogue One hits theaters December 16, 2016.

The First Image From ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ is Dark and Moody and Raises Some Interesting Questions

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas

At the D23 Expo this weekend, the first official picture from Star Wars: Rogue One was released, and it was a dark little picture that set off a myriad of questions:

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First off, I love the feeling this picture gives off. It looks like a ragtag group of rebels picked for the worst job ever. Like they know it’s a suicide mission, but if they don’t do it they know it won’t be done right.

Now onto the questions. This picture raises quite a few of them:

  • Donnie Yen’s character looks blind. How exactly does he help them out? If he’s not a Jedi that uses the Force (this has been said to be a Force-less film), just what does he do to make an impact on the mission?
  • Techie Riz Ahmed seems to have a Galactic Empire insignia on his outfit. Is he planning on going undercover in the quest to steal the Death Star plans? Is he the way in for the rebel group? Did he flip sides and join the rebels?
  • Why does Diego Luna look like Biggs Darklighter? This is a bit of a theory shooting around the internet right now, but the actor is sporting the same sweet ‘stache that Darklighter has. With Felicity Jones’ character already being rumored to have ties to original trilogy character Boba Fett, is this just another tie-in to the universe?

With shooting underway in the UK hopefully more news is forthcoming. However we may have to wait until the Gareth Edwards’ directed Star Wars Story (now the re-branded name from Anthology) hits theaters on December 16, 2016.

Rumor: Who is Felicity Jones Playing in ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’?

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Rouge One, the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series, has had interesting news flying about for it left and right. From the amazing cast to the plot outline to the fact that Boba Fett and a cadre of bounty hunters may be involved, this film is getting Star Wars fans amped.

And this latest rumor may be stirring the pot even more.

Felicity Jones has been talked about as being the leader of the Rebel Alliance in charge of stealing the Death Star plans in this Jedi-less heist film. But another, cooler bit of information is now making the rounds.

On Meet the Movie Press, El Mayimbe broke the news that he’s heard rumors that Jones’ character will be the daughter of legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett!!!!

Mayimbe had no concrete confirmation, so he said to take this with a grain of salt. Frankly, I don’t know how this would work, as the ages don’t exactly line up. It does lend credence to the rumors of Fett’s involvement in the film. It also possibly pits father against daughter, which would add another wrinkle to the “fathers-versus-children” saga that has been a part of the Star Wars fabric for quite some time.

Fans may feel like this a bit forced. These Anthology films are meant to flesh out the SW universe. Tying a character in with an already established (and hugely fan favorite) character from the original trilogy could backfire on the brain trust at Disney and Lucasfilm, if it feels like its being done for the wrong reasons.

But it’s not like the masses won’t still line up to go and see it anyway.

‘Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One’ Signs ‘Sherlock’ Actor Jonathan Aris

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by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It looks like Star Wars is raiding the Sherlock cast for its next cast member.

Jonathan Aris, who plays forensic team member Anderson on the hit BBC drama Sherlock, has signed on for the first Star Wars Anthology film, Rogue One.

The news comes from the actor’s Spotlight page, where it has him listed as a character named Senator Jebel.

Other actors who have listed their castings on the page have all turned out to be true, so even though this wasn’t announced through any official channels this could pretty much be taken at face value until proven otherwise.

Nothing else is known about the character other than his name. With the film beginning filming very soon, I’m sure we’ll find out more as time progresses.

The Gareth Edwards’ directed film is set to be the first in a series of anthology films that follow storylines outside of the main Skywalker story going on in the main Episodes. This film will revolve around a heist of the Death Star plans that takes place between Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) and Episode IV (A New Hope).

Star Wars: Rogue One will hit theaters on December 16, 2016.

Darth Vader to Appear in Rogue One?

Star Wars Darth Vader

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

When the Star Wars Anthology films were announced, they were supposed to tell stories outside of the popular Skywalker storyline. But that doesn’t mean that the family can’t be involved in some way.

Rumors floating around the internet are that Darth Vader will appear in Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One.

But don’t expect to see the Sith Lord marching around, choking out wise-ass lackeys with The Force. Instead, expect Vader to be pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Most likely we’ll see him on a viewscreen giving orders or via a hologram projection.

Not much is known as to who the real main villain will be at this point. It could be someone from the rich history of Star Wars or it could be someone we have yet to see. The film is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, which gives quite the time frame to work with.

What we do know is the film will revolve around a Dirty Dozen-esque plot to steal the Death Star plans and that it will be a film that features no Jedi and no use of The Force.

Star Wars: Rogue One is set to blast into theaters December 16, 2016.

Big Rumor: Will Donnie Yen Play a Jedi in an Upcoming Star Wars Film?

Donnie Yen

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The Hollywood trend of inserting a big name Asian action star to appeal to the overseas masses continues, and this time it hits a galaxy far, far away.

The Hong Kong tabloid Daily Apple is reporting that martial arts master Donnie Yen will reportedly be appearing in Star Wars Episode VIII. The report states that the actor will be playing a Jedi and shooting scenes opposite Harrison Ford as early as next month.

Let’s pump the brakes for a second and look at what we know to be true before we just accept this at face value.

Episode VIII is nowhere near ready to film, so Yen filming that film next month would be nigh impossible. Also, we have no idea what the status of the Jedi is in this new universe yet.

Now, Gareth Edwards’ anthology film Rogue One started filming last week, but as far as we know Harrison Ford is not supposed to be anywhere near that film. Add to that the fact that it’s been touted as a Jedi-less film and this report seems more and more suspect.

Yen could still be up for a role. The website Twitch reports that a number of Asian actors are being rumored for an upcoming role. Names like Jet Li, Stephen Chow, Chiu Wai, Daniel Wu, Chang Chen, Tony Leung and Wang Leehom have all been bandied about.

If any of these names do land a role in the upcoming Rogue One, I wouldn’t expect anyone to use the force or whip out a lightsaber. But once again, I’d take any of this news with a HUGE grain of salt for now.

We’ll keep our eyes open for any other exciting tidbits as they become available.

Forest Whitaker Set to Prove he’s a ‘Rogue One’

Rogue One

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

It seems like with every new cast member announced for the first anthology film Star Wars: Rogue One, the film keeps getting deeper and richer with talent. Variety is now reporting that Forest Whitaker will now be playing a role in the upcoming film.

No word yet on who Whitaker will play, but he’s joining a cast already stacked with some major Forest Whitakertalent. Felicity Jones is said to be playing a Rebel soldier, while Riz Ahmed and Diego Luna have also been rumored to be playing rebel characters. Ben Mendelsohn has been cast and is seemingly set to play a major villain.

Set between Episodes III and IV, the first film in the anticipated anthology series will tell the story of a group of Rebels out to steal plans for the Death Star. It’s been said that there will be no Jedi in this film and their absence will be greatly felt.

Whitaker is a great actor that always brings a sense of importance to every role he takes. One of my favorite performances was his turn on the FX TV series The Shield. As the Internal Affairs detective sent to finally nail Vic Mackey and his crooked crew of dirty cops, Whitaker showed us a man on the edge who was almost willing to get as dirty as the cops he was sent to take down.

Gareth Edwards is set to direct this kick-off into the series of films that will reveal the untold tales of the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: Rogue One is set to hit theaters December 16, 2016.

Details About ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ From This Weekend’s Star Wars Celebration!

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

So Star Wars Celebration 2015 is in the books. It started with a bang and ended with one as well.

Today’s main panel had Godzilla director Gareth Edwards talking about his upcoming standalone – excuse me, Anthology Film, Star Wars: Rogue One.

Edwards was quoted as saying during the panel that he “couldn’t sit in the cinema knowing someone else made this film.”

The main focus on this film is that it’s a war. Set between Episode III and Episode IV, it has been confirmed that the plot revolves around plans for rebels to steal the designs for the Death Star. It was said that this film will be more about the grays of combat, with good guys doing bad things and bad guys doing good things – pretty much just people trying to survive in the hell that is war.

The absence of the Jedi Order will be felt, but we’ll get a more defined sense of the black and white / good vs. evil world that was A New Hope.

The heist aspect was downplayed and the war movie aspect was really stressed, meaning we can expect something more along the lines of Zero Dark Thirty and Saving Private Ryan than Ocean’s 11, like was originally thought.

Edwards can create a world where characters matter – his first film Monsters showed us that. If he decides to go the route of “regular soldiers fighting the good fight” instead of “Jedi’s taking in a hundred soldiers at once” we should get a very interesting piece of work.

Star Wars and a Whole Disney Slate of Upcoming Movies are Headed to IMAX

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Get ready to crack open your wallets, folks. Disney and IMAX have just reached a new deal to bring a bunch of their films to the large-format screen. The deal starts this year and goes through 2017. The deal covers the Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar tentpole films as well as some others.

The following list is what’s been announced so far:

Star Wars:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (December 18, 2015)
  • Star Wars: Rogue One (December 16, 2016)
  • Star Wars Episode VIII (May 26, 2017)

Marvel:

  • Ant-Man (July 17, 2015)
  • Captain America: Civil War (May 6, 2016)
  • Doctor Strange (November 4, 2016)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (May 5, 2017)
  • Thor: Ragnarok (November 2, 2017)

Pixar:

  • Finding Dory (June 17, 2016)
  • Toy Story 4* (June 16, 2017)

Other:

  • The Finest Hours (October 9, 2015 January 29, 2016)
  • The Jungle Book (April 15, 2016)
  • Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass (May 27, 2016)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (July 7, 2017)

(* Toy Story 4 is getting only a limited run because Warner Bros. / DC’s Wonder Woman arrives one week later, on June 23, 2017.)

The dates are the regular theatrical release dates, which is assumed to also be the IMAX release dates.

None of these movies are being specifically for IMAX, but they will be digitally remastered for the format.

I don’t mind spending a little extra cash if it means an awesome experience. I remember seeing Gravity and Interstellar in IMAX and loving every second. I’ve also enjoyed other (non outer space) films like I Am Legend, The Dark Knight Rises and multiple Harry Potter films (geez, Warner Bros kinda has a lock on my IMAX habit, huh?).

Any way you slice it, this is a great deal for IMAX, for Disney and for movie fans in general.

Is Ben Mendelsohn set to Co-Star in ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’?

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Australian actor Ben Mendolsohn just jumped on a lot of people’s radars. The actor is being rumored to be up for a role in the upcoming Star Wars-universe stand-alone film Rogue One, according to Deadline.

The film has already cast Felicity Jones in the female lead. Gareth Edwards, director of the awesome sci-fi flick Monsters as well as the 2014 American version of Godzilla, is signed on to helm this film from a script by Chris Weitz.

No word yet on who Mendelsohn will play, but he’d be a fool not to climb into the cockpit for Disney and LucasFilm. A Star Wars film can only work for his exposure to the American movie-going audience. Most people may already recognize him from his roles in the films Exodus: Gods and Kings and Black Sea or his critically acclaimed Netflix series Bloodline, which debuted last week.

The first planned non-episodic Star Wars film is set to hit theaters December 16, 2016.