Time for Star Wars to Go Rogue

by Todd King, contributing writer

Star Wars Land Updates from MousePlanet

I hope you didn't miss the latest Walt Disney World Resort Update here at MousePlanet. There are some fantastic announcements about Star Wars-related events and attraction updates that are sure to be awesome. I wish that I was there to experience the return of the "Galactic Spectacular" fireworks again, to see the newly added movie props from Rogue One added to the Launch Bay, see the new AWR (Advanced Weapons Research) StormTroopers as costumed characters, and to have to the time to take the seven-hour Star Wars tour beginning next month. Read more of the details in the update linked above.

Disney is bringing about many events such as these not only as hype for the new movie but also as tastes of things to come for Star Wars land. That park may include such experiences like these when it has its own place in the (near? distant?) future. For now, I'm waiting on an announcement saying that a new scene will be added to Star Wars that is set in a world from Rogue One. It happened last year and is certainly good reason to keep that ride up to date. For those of us, like myself, who won't be at a Disney park this holiday season, we have the new movie itself to look forward to.

It's About to Happen ... It Happened

Rogue One has its worldwide premiere tomorrow, December 16, but for a select few, there was an early limited premiere on the West Coast. I'm trying to avoid reading about it as best I can to avoid spoilers. Reviews have been allowed since Tuesday and I'm going to avoid those, too, since my article here will have been written before that. But like a kid who finds a few presents under the tree placed there days before Christmas, I may have lifted a corner of wrapping paper for the tiniest of peeks. The only thing I read was that reactions were positive, and I'm not surprised. I have high hopes for the movie, and in these days, movie-goers can tell a lot about a movie based on its trailers and the previews for Rogue One have been very exciting. We can also tell a lot by a movie's cast and direction as well as the studio so this one has a lot going for it already. In my mind, I believe it will be good ... but how good?

I cannot stress how awesome and crazy and different and nerve-wracking this is to be on the brink of the first live-action Star Wars spin-off. This is a side-story taking place in a familiar place in the Star Wars timeline. Last year's Episode VII took place in a new time that was beyond any of the previous films so in many ways it was claiming all new territory.

This time, we're jumping back to a time very close to where it all began. Rogue One is set just before the events of the original Star Wars, or later called Episode IV: A New Hope.

The events of that original movie are considered year zero in the Star Wars timeline. The "Battle of Yavin" from A New Hope, which saw Luke Skywalker destroy the first Death Star, is the most significant event in the galaxy portrayed in the movie and therefore the timeline uses it as the starting point. Events before it are called BBY ("Before the Battle of Yavin") like the prequel trilogy including Episodes I-III, the Clone Wars, and Rebels. Events after it are called ABY ("After the Battle of Yavin") like the Original Trilogy of Episodes IV-VI and now includes the new trilogy starting with Episode VII: The Force Awakens and the coming Episodes VIII and IX. Rogue One is taking us bascially back to year zero, the roots of the saga. That is one of the awesome parts.

One of the crazy parts of this is the story that Rogue One is going to tell. If we go back to the opening text crawl of A New Hope we now know that about half of that text refers to events we're about to see in Rogue One. They read, "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. As a kid, knowing that one day episodes I–III would eventually be made, I thought that this "first victory" would have been part of Episode III. Since that did not happen, and since at the time of its release, Episode III was going to be the last Star Wars movie, I figured the story would never be told. And now here we are and that story is going to be told! Yes, this movie is not telling a part of the main saga of the Skywalkers, but it couldn't be more closely connected to the Star Wars timeline than this. We we learn about these Rebel spies, about this "first victory," and about how they managed to steal the plans. How crazy is that? To me, it crazy but the kind of crazy that is profound.

One of the things that makes this whole thing different is how much a risk this movie really is. One the one hand, it's Star Wars, so that comes with a built-in audience and executives should feel confident that it will be popular and make money. On the other hand, working on something so popular can also be devastating if that large built-in audience rejects it and fans all but abandon the franchise. It can hurt a company like Lucasfilm and Disney financially, but even worse, would be the broken trust and lost fans. While I don't think the latter will happen with this film because it seems so promising and because many fans already accept it even though we know it is going to be a different kind of story from the ones we've experienced so far.

Without the Jedi or Skywalkers at the center, we enter into new story territory. That also enters us into new story possibilities of which Rogue One is the first of many that will explore those possibilities with future spin-offs. This is why Star Wars must go rogue so that more films will come to find places in this galaxy where the ground for stories is fertile and the possibilities rich.

What is nerve-wracking is the anticipation to see exactly what is in store for us with this movie. I don't quite know what to expect from the tone of the story. Is it going to be a simple adventure flick? Will it truly be a war movie as the producers had originally stated? Will it be a heist movie as stated early in production? Will there be humor as in other Star Wars films? Will it be deadly serious because of the war aspect? Finally, will it be great? There are so many questions spinning in my mind that I can't answer and so I'll just have to calm down and patiently wait, which is another part of this being nerve-wracking. Luckily the waiting is almost over.

Leaving the Theater

You know the feeling. That feeling when you walk out of the theater after a great movie and you just feel awesome. It's like those precious seconds after barely waking from a good dream. There's an aura around yourself and take every step out of the hall and out into the cold night air with a difficult-to-describe emotion. It's a feeling of elation and inspiration. You want to take on the obstacles of your world and accomplish great things. You feel better-equipped to take on the forces of darkness around you and meet the challenges of your life. You turn on your car and feel you could handle hyperspace on the way home. You know the feeling?

I want that feeling after Rogue One, like the feelings I had walking out of the theaters after seeing the original trilogy of Star Wars (and after seeing The Force Awakens). It's a powerful feeling that draws you both back into that fictional world and out into the real world to see it in a new light. It is an uplifting emotion because we feel we've been through an experience ourselves—that we, too, have come out of the adventure stronger and smarter like the characters we've just seen. You know the feeling. I want that feeling again. I want us all to have a good feeling afterward—those good feelings spread and help make everything in our lives a little bit better. It's a touch of joy. And joy is something that can spread and there is never a time when it is not needed. May it be so that we will leave the theater simply feeling good. That's the kind of force we want to be with us.

I will see you all next month for a follow-up article after seeing the movie where I hope that complex but positive emotion carries on. Until then, I wish you Happy Holidays and good health. Let us be with Jyn!