Why Star Wars Rogue One Will Be Great, Why It Won’t
by Will Kay
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is coming out this week. Although it is arriving on the heels of the well-received “The Force Awakens,” from last year, it’s not Episode VIII. Instead, “Rogue One” is a prequel dealing with the attempt by the Rebel Alliance to steal plans for the Death Star. While not expected to gross over $900 million domestically like “The Force Awakens” did, “Rogue One” is still hotly anticipated. After all, it is a “Star Wars” movie. Still, there’s some uncertainty about how “Rogue One” will ultimately be received by audiences. Will it be the next “Empire Strikes Back,” the next “Phantom Menace,” or something else?
The potential quality of “Rogue One” is helped by a strong pedigree. Director Gareth Edwards helmed a well-liked “Godzilla” film a few years ago, showing that he can handle special effects extravaganzas. The casting is inspired as well. While there aren’t any names in the cast who can open a film like Jennifer Lawrence or Denzel Washington, Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, and Forest Whitaker are diverse and talented actors. Plus, the real star of the movie is in the title: the words “Star Wars.”
This new film could also be a “Star Wars” film in a different vein. While the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, and the “Force Awakens” deal largely with Skywalker family drama, “Rogue One” will give audiences a chance to see new characters in the “Star Wars” universe. Plus, it seems like there will be some a little Darth Vader thrown in as well.
Still, there are some reasons to worry. News came earlier this year about reshoots happening. While there is usually assurance that nothing is wrong when reshoots happen, recent evidence has suggested that reshoots can spell d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r in terms of a movie’s overall quality. Both last year’s “Fantastic Four” and this year’s “Suicide Squad” went through reshoots. While “Suicide Squad” was a box office success (unlike “Fantastic Four”) it still received very negative reviews. A reshoot can send bad buzz about a movie through the industry, giving it a reputation that’s hard to shake.
Though “Rogue One” can’t help it, it might be hurt by being a prequel. “Star Wars” has a bit of a rough prequel history, with the prequel trilogy being considered vastly inferior to the original trilogy. While it might be much better than “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” and “Revenge of the Sith,” “Rogue One” still might face the problems that most prequels face: giving us a story where we know the ending.
It is also likely that “Star Wars” spinoff isn’t a very good idea. There is a risk of suffocating the marketplace with “Star Wars” films that audiences become sick of them. Episode VIII is due out next year. That will mean three consecutive years of “Star Wars” films. Despite being arguably the most popular film franchise of all-time, that might be too much. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see.