Impressed, Intrigued, Concerned: Breaking Down The Rogue One Teaser

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As big a Star Wars fan as I am, and as much as I loved The Force Awakens, I’ve been a negative nelly on these spin-off films.  Not only do you risk over saturating Star Wars, but the idea of more prequels and back stories makes me queasy.  When they announced the first film would be about a group of rebels who steal the Death Star plans, I immediately rolled my eyes.  I already know how that story ends.  The Death Star blows up.  Can we please move forward in Star Wars, for crying out loud!  I haven’t been excited about Rogue One, almost to the point of indifference.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say this teaser looked cool as hell though.  Am I ready to completely go into light speed for these films?  No.  But at least now I’m intrigued.

Let’s break this sucker down – my thoughts on the first ever teaser trailer for a Star Wars spin-off film!

It Looks Like Star Wars, But It Doesn’t Look Like Star Wars

Familiar, but different.  That’s what impressed me most about this teaser.  From the very first shot where our new heroine, Jyn Erso, walks into the Rebel Base, it immediately feels different, but it’s still undoubtedly Star Wars.  I appreciated the classic Rebel garb.  What doesn’t feel Star Wars though is the dialogue and look of the characters.  Even though you had Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) looking exactly as she does from Return of the Jedi, we got an entirely different vibe from everyone else.  That’s a good thing.  If the promise of these spin-offs is to deliver different types of genres within the Star Wars universe, they seem to have succeeded in that regard.

I’m also shocked at the tone this trailer offered.  Even though this is the studio that pumps out Marvel films, it’s clear Lucasfilm operates on its own little island.  This trailer wasn’t concerned about non-stop fun and action.  It was a serious, character focused teaser.  That’s a great sign, especially for these spin-offs.

The Cast

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This is what hooked me most – the characters.  This cast looks incredible.  Felicity Jones is instantly endearing as the rebellious hero.  When Kathleen Kennedy took the reigns from George Lucas as the big boss of Star Wars, it’s clear strong female leads were a massive priority.  They’ve already succeeded with Rey in The Force Awakens, and we can safely say they’ve done it again with Jyn Erso.  In a story where I already know the ending, I want to see how this character plays into it.  That’s the biggest goal this movie needs to achieve.

Aside from Jyn, there are plenty other cast members showcasing mystery and charisma.  Forrest Whitaker looks flat out awesome.  I have nothing else to say.  Ever since seeing him in The Dark Knight Rises and The Place Beyond the Pines, I’ve been a huge Ben Mendelsohn fan.  Dressed in the white imperial uniform, scowling as if his life depended on it was enough to get me excited about the villain  We don’t get much else, but Diego Luna, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen already look like cool supporting characters.  If there’s one thing this trailer did, it got me excited for the potential of more great Star Wars characters.

What Still Has Me Concerned

As much as I loved seeing the classic imperial Star Destroyers and the Death Star, it’s another reminder we’re going backwards.  I don’t want this movie too reliant on classic imagery.  Although, the AT-AT’s looked awesome, and I appreciate director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) not hiding them, as he hid Godzilla.  Remember that disaster?

Aside from the ships, it’s more so the expected forced cameos.  We see the Emperor’s famous red guards as a man in a cloak walks towards what looks like a hologram chamber.  Really?  Please don’t do this.  I don’t want to see the Emperor.  I don’t want Darth Vader.  No Tarkin.  These are iconic characters, and I don’t want to see them in vague cameos for a spin-off movie.  I stand by that.  Leave them out of this.  I don’t even want them referenced.

I’m At Peace With The Spin-Offs…For Now

We’re still a long ways away from this movie.  It was one teaser, but it did its job.  It gave me actual hope that the spin-offs can be a cool Star Wars after taste.  If they want to tell a story we already know, they better introduce some great characters.  Based on these two minutes, that may have been achieved.  The music was also fantastic.  I’m guessing we aren’t getting John Williams for this, so that will be a major shift.

I’m not ready to declare I was wrong about this movie, but I’m hopeful it’s trending in that direction.

P.S. Can we please change the title?  A Star Wars Story?  Come on!

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.