Ladies & Gents! It's officially Star Wars week.
On Friday, after years of anticipation, we're finally going to get our first standalone anthology film set within George Lucas's galaxy far, far away. We first heard about the potential for a film like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story shortly after Lucas sold the production company that bears his name to Disney. Back then, we'd heard that there was an idea- floated by Lucas himself- to make films that aren't part of the Episodic Saga, and that Lucasfilm would release one between each new chapter.
Gareth Edwards was the first director tapped to helm one of these ambitious anthology films, and he seemed to understand what a massive responsibility that was. He also seemingly got the memo from Lucasfilm that the new Star Wars films had to be closer to the Original Trilogy than the Prequel Trilogy in terms of look and feel. Just as J.J. Abrams used a lot of practical, old school visual effects to give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a more authentic feel that harked back to the late 70s/early 80s filmmaking era that gave us the first three films, Edwards has made a film that looks unapologetically classic Star Wars.
But his approach to Rogue One didn't end at just the look, as he wanted the film, tonally, to straddle that same line that those older films did, where they weaved in and out of various genres- often combining seemingly disparate styles.
Edwards took some time at the Rogue One press junket this weekend to talk about his approach, and how he took several cues directly from what Lucas did with the Original Trilogy. He was asked what elements he wanted to borrow and expand upon from those first films, and he answered rather candidly.
"The problem with Star Wars is that question takes about four hours [to answer]," Edwards told reporters at the Rogue One junket. "There’s not an individual thing that you look at, say 'that’s Star Wars,' and you’re golden. There’s about a thousand different things, and you have to mix them all together, and get the balance just right; it’s a really tricky thing to emulate what we like about the original."
Mixing and balancing is exactly what Lucas and his team of collaborators did so well for the Original Trilogy, and Edwards acknowledged that as he went on.
"For me, we could’ve just put this in one specific genre and said ‘that’s our movie.’ But George was always really good about mixing genres together, and creating this very emotional, mythological story that just happened to have robots and spaceships in it," Edwards said of the most valuable lessons he learned from Lucas. "There’s meaning behind it, and it took us a long time to crack that code. It’s not something you just do in a week. It’s a long process."
Judging by some of the early responses that are pouring in after the world premiere this past weekend, Edwards and his team did- indeed- "crack the code."
Here are a few choice reactions to Rogue One: A Star Wars, from some very well known celebrity nerds:
As you can see, people seem to be loving what Edwards did with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
This is all such a pleasant surprise, since we've been documenting for quite some time how the film's rather tumultuous post-production cycle had many of us worried about what the final product would be. None of this addresses the fact that Tony Gilroy led a massive overhaul of the film after Lucasfilm saw where Edwards was heading with it, but- in the end- none of that stuff will matter if Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an excellent film and a fitting addition to the canon.
What do you think of these comments from Edwards and the early response to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?