After having been promoted to Motherboard's Star Wars correspondent last year, I've spent most of my spare time pondering—usually by staring off into the distance—the future of a franchise about futures past that will surely never fade into the good night. Rogue One looks exciting because it's a first leap into a foray with all new characters, which should help flesh out the universe, and because I'm looking forward to a Star Wars that appears to reference the Pacific rim.
Now we've got a new trailer, and I've got some new thoughts, and we should all think about them together. You ready?
I always wonder if at some point in one's movie career, you just get to the point where you storm into the office of Mr. Paramount and say, "Bob, I've earned my goddamn stripes, fund a movie for me that we can shoot in Hawaii. OKAY?" It worked for Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates, and I presume that's part of what went down here, but man those waves look kinda mushy.
I love how Star Wars has always had this obsession with making rounded rectangles, like this jail cell door here which is way too nicely designed for some throwaway jail for a fledgling terrorist, which is a wonderful throwback to 70s futurist design where everything is so much better than now that not even a door's motif can have a sharp (outdated, bummery) edge.
Things I Don't Get About This Trailer, 1 of 2: If you're going to have cyberhandcuffs, why in the WORLD are they easily opened with a key? What could that light possibly indicate? That the handcuffs are locked? Not even Star Wars is immune to the Internet of Shit, it seems.
Is there any time in history where an ancient toppled GIANT statue has not looked cool? This shot made me swear at my desk. Damn that is tight!
Things I Don't Get About This Trailer, 1 of 2: Okay, so how in the hell are we in a 2016 rendition of the year Future.0 and we're STILL being told to just go ahead and believe that anyone anywhere could credibly use etched Lexan as a light-up map? What is this nonsense? These people are fighting a war across the entire universe! Can you even IMAGINE how many of these static maps they'd have to store just to be able to plan literally anything? No wonder the ships are big! Can someone get these rebels an iPad please?
I audibly LOLed when this fucker showed up because COME ON, how long do you think Disney is willing to play chicken with all of us and this Death Star plot? I'm CALLING IT NOW: This movie ends with all of the rebels dead and the Death Star chilling and wrecking the universe because the only way to keep this trope alive is to get M. Night Shyamalan on all of our asses.
Another design question: I get why the spaceships in Star Wars always have these gritty exteriors full of clunky panels and dangling widgets poking out everywhere—no need for sleek exterior panels in the vacuum of space, so might as well have everything open for droids—but how does that nonsense carry down onto planets themselves? Like, I GUESS this streetlight could be made of space junk, but I dunno, just looks to me like those cell phone towers that are made to look like trees but it's obvious that they're totally not.
A few months ago, I was in Azerbaijan and I swear to all of you that there was a Dubai-like island real estate project on the Caspian Sea whose promotional materials looked EXACTLY like this. That project stalled halfway but damn I wish I could live somewhere like this!
Years ago I ate lunch in a banana plantation in Costa Rica and it was very peaceful; I still remember that my sandwich had rectangle ham on it. Also it seemed like a good place to play laser tag. This is a coconut plantation but you get the point.
The most annoying thing about Jet Li's Hero was that its blunt use of color in scenes kind of killed the whole aesthetic, which has always been used to great effect in martial arts films. Guy-with-sword-standing-in-rain-over-blue-mountains is as old a trick as there is to build out the theme of a pensive hero, and here I love it. This guy is about to wreck some shit.
What's up with that copper side on the AT-AT? Unrelated, further supporting my Death Star prediction is the trailer's surprisingly heavy-handed emphasis on the rebel rhetoric: "make 10 men feel like 100", "save the rebellion, save the dream!" and so on. It's fitting as the world takes a rather populist turn here in 2016, but this is also pretty basic mythmaking used by terrorist groups and insurgencies everywhere.
Is this going to be the first time that a Star Wars film suggests the rebels are bad? I highly doubt it, but man, this martyr talk does not bode well for their chances at success!