Rogue One: Successful Spin-Off or Fruitless Failure?

With the first peek at the next big leap into the Star Wars universe, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, debuting just last week, many fans have been questioning whether or not this surprising spin-off set between Episodes III and IV will live up to the legacy of the star-hopping franchise. Set to release this winter, crawling out from behind the shadow of last December's huge debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, this minor-league tale of rebels and Death Stars may be able to stand up against its more grandiose cousin, or it could flop under said cousin's massive pressure. Nevertheless, this ambitious and quite mysterious spin-off from the popular episodic franchise looks like it could offer something we've never seen from Star Wars on the big screen before. 

Stepping away from its formula of ancient warriors of the Force and Skywalker relatives, the newest dive into the Star Wars franchise offers us a peek inside the adventures of the little guys, the ones who often follow the leading hero into battle and are never heard from again. Rather than throwing us another potential Jedi training under a wise, old teacher or a Sith hiding in the shadows of his past, Rogue One aims its focus at the soldiers behind enemy lines. Detailing the mission that ignited just before the original Star Wars, where a rag-tag team of rebels embark into enemy territory to steal the plans of one of the deadliest weapons in the galaxy, the Death Star, this curious spin-off relies not on Jedi mind tricks or lightsaber battles, but rather on the pure thrill of space espionage. An enticing premise for any fan of spy or heist films like Mission: Impossible, this daring change-up for the franchise could end up being thrilling...just as long as it's done right, that is. 

While the Star Wars series may mostly rely on visual spectacle and dynamic ideals of good vs. evil, one of its most defining traits has to be its memorable characters. From the farm boy-turned-Jedi master Luke Skywalker to the charismatic and mysterious Rey, Star Wars has forever brought us amazing characters to both root for and antagonize. From every Force-wielding Jedi to all the dirty scoundrels of the galaxy, there's never once been a character that didn't have at least one redeeming quality (yes, even Jar Jar, to a limited extent). One of the things Rogue One could accomplish is providing the franchise with a plethora of interesting characters. From Felicity Jones' sparky rebel Jyn Erso to Forest Whitaker's Clone Wars veteran/shady bounty hunter, the characters in Rogue One already look to be a hell of a lot more interesting than some of the people in the prequel trilogy. While we may not know much about them yet, these characters could end up being just as memorable as Yoda or Han Solo -- given that they are explored to their full extent.

Even with its intriguing war-film tone and thick cast of new characters, there are a number of things that threaten the success of Rogue One come this December. The first thing, surprisingly, might be the loyal fans of the franchise that can't live without all the mystical elements and sabers of light that have made the films so legendary. Even with The Force Awakens -- which retooled the plot of A New Hope for a new generation of fans -- fans still found things to bicker over. With Rogue One, one of my initial fears for the film was that it might not be able to deliver the things fans want from a Star Wars film. Ultimately its own beast, connected yet undeniably a different type of film from the episodic series, Rogue One looks like it will hopefully usher in a whole new genre to the franchise, bringing on more of Wars in Star Wars. While there will undoubtedly those who accept the film for what it's trying to be, there will also be those who criticize the film because it's not the Star Wars they grew up on.

Whether Rogue One is as successful as The Force Awakens or not, there's no doubt Disney is taking a mighty leap into the darker, more elusive realms of the Star Wars universe with this film. Set to debut a whole new palette of gritty characters -- and possibly also bring back one black-clad villain we've sourly missed -- all while returning to the galaxy A New Hope introduced us to a long time ago, the first chapter in the new Star Wars Anthology series could end up being a surprise hit for fans of the new -- and hopefully old -- generation to enjoy. One thing fans can be grateful for is the fact that we're getting a new Star Wars film for the next four to five years.

What was your favorite part of the first Rogue One teaser? For me, it had to be Ben Mendelsohn as the white-caped Imperial admiral looking awfully villainous in the two seconds we saw him. Do you think Rogue One will be able to compete with The Force Awakens? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and remember to follow and share for more reviews and trailer breakdowns!                   

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