We gave them 2 minutes. They gave us a galaxy in need of hope.
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.
–From Star Wars: A New Hope‘s opening crawl, 1977
Now, nearly 40 years later, that battle (and the events preceding it) will at last be shown in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. We’ve gotten a teaser trailer and a sizzle reel, but during last night’s Olympic Games we were finally given a longer trailer focusing on the heroes and villains about to fill in some of the unexplored parts of the Star Wars saga.
Here are nine aspects that have made me a repeat viewer.
1. A Battle-Hardened Saw Gerrera
I love The Clone Wars. So I was all in when I learned Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) would be appearing in Rogue One. I expected him to be militant, in keeping with what we’ve learned of him recently. I didn’t expect him to be emotional.
Listen to his words at the trailer’s beginning, “The world is coming undone. Imperial flags reign across the galaxy.” Look at him when he says this. He fights because that’s all he has left. He’s been doing it for so long he can’t do anything else. That’s why his interaction with Jyn is important. He smiles when she tells him, “This is our chance to make a real difference.” I think that smile is because she gives him a little of that hope he’s lost.
And also, I can’t help but think… because she reminds him of his sister.
2. Chirrut’s Faith
For me, faith has always been the bedrock of Star Wars. We’ve explored it through the eyes of Force-wielders like the Jedi and Sith since the beginning, so that makes Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) special. Watching him walk boldly into the crowd of stormtroopers in the Rogue One teaser was cool, but hearing his declaration of faith in the Force — even though he doesn’t use it — while he does so in the trailer made it significant.
3. K2’s Charming Personality
Anyone — human, alien, or droid — who introduces themselves with “I will not kill you” is an instant favorite in my book. So I immediately took to K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Adding to the former Imperial droid’s charm is his obvious positivity. When he decides to remind this group of their 2.4% chance of success, Bodhi Rook’s (Riz Ahmed) perplexed face says it all.
4. The Death Star Closes In
The Death Star is absolutely a force of nature in this trailer. From the previously seen image of its superlaser being installed to the planet-destroyer literally casting a world in its shadow. It’s a hurricane, a tsunami, a violent storm with Krennic as its menacing eye. Watching the director stride menacingly onto the Death Star’s overbridge as the Imperial officers ahead made way, I couldn’t help but feel he held them in contempt. In over 30 years of being a Star Wars fan, it’s the first time I can remember seeing an Imperial who doesn’t control the Force look so intimidating.
I don’t know where they are and I don’t know why they’re there, but that shot of the X-wings descending through a rainstorm and opening fire on those stormtroopers is fantastic. We’ve been told repeatedly that Rogue One is a war movie, and this shot more than any other we’ve seen so far (sorry, AT-ACTs) makes that real for me.
6. TIE Intercepted
Jyn Erso, limping along on a platform somewhere high above Scarif (I paused and looked at the background), determination in her face. A TIE fighter rises to face her…and she defiantly walks toward it. There’s been a lot of Star Wars imagery highlighting how titanic the struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire is, much of it iconic. This shot easily stands alongside them.
7. One Word: Vader
Sure it was the back of his helmet for one second, but it’s Darth Vader. For the first time on the big screen in eleven years. Your heart skipped a beat, and you know it.
8. The Music
Or as I like to think of music in Star Wars, the voice of the Force.
Listen to the trailer with your eyes closed. You’ll hear the Force’s sadness as the threat of the Empire is explored before it transitions into tentative optimism.”The Imperial March” briefly gives way to the Force’s own theme as Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) attempts to rally support for her impossible mission. While the trailer does conclude with the Empire’s anthem, we know that a new hope is just around the corner. I suspect that has a lot to do with Jyn and her band of Rebels.
9. The Rise of Jyn Erso
The trailer’s other force of nature isn’t as large as the Death Star, but she’s every bit as powerful. Jyn unites all of the disparate pieces of this Star Wars puzzle, standing as a light against the darkness represented by an ascendant Empire on the verge of its final victory. From her words of hope to her bravery in the face of Imperial war machines, we see multiple times in these two minutes why her crew is with her all the way.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters December 16. Eighteen weeks never seemed more like an eternity. What was your favorite thing about the trailer?
Justin Bolger is Lucasfilm’s Star Wars social media strategist and he doesn’t like the Empire…he loves it. Catch him occasionally on The Star Wars After Show and talk Star Wars with him on Twitter @TheApexFan.