The first teaser trailer for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” hit the web this morning. That sets in motion a whole new wave of “Star Wars” anticipation, just months removed from the hoopla surrounding “The Force Awakens.”
It’s a different sort of anticipation, no doubt.
“Rogue One” is a prequel, a story depicting the fight to get those Death Star blueprints that played a critical role in the 1977 space saga “Star Wars.”
Still, the official start of the “Rogue One” pop culture machine will answer whether the public will gobble up anything “Star Wars” related, or if we simply want more sequels from a “galaxy far, far away.”
Here are 5 lessons we’ve gleaned from our first peek at “Rogue One.”
- They Got the Diversity Memo: With all the talk about #OscarsSoWhite still fresh in mind, the trailer showcases a true ethnic cross-section. Consider the cast: Felicity Jones, Forest Whitaker, Donnie Yen and Diego Luna among them. The “Fast & Furious” franchise is powered, in part, by a similarly diverse cast. Can the same sensibility fuel “Rogue One’s” box office success? Will it even need any more rocket fuel beyond the “Star Wars” brand?
- Old School All the Way: It’s too soon to know if director Gareth Edwards (“Godzilla”) is fully embracing J.J. Abrams’ approach to special effects. Abrams used practical effects whenever possible, which hearkened back to the dawn of the franchise. For now, the teaser trailer captures that throwback “Star Wars” look, from the retro Stormtroopers uniforms to the tactical feel of the effects. It feels less like the CGI-heavy films we’ve been watching over the past decade.
- Casting Genius: “Rogue One” isn’t chockablock with A-listers like Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington Reese Witherspoon. Instead, it’s packed with seriously gifted actors who for some reason haven’t broken through yet. Mikkelsen. Jones. Ben Mendelsohn of “Bloodline” fame. Alan Tudyk (“Firefly”). This is a flat-out great cast more than capable of taking the franchise in a fresh direction.
- Sentiment Matters … Still: We won’t have Chewie, Han Solo or Princess Leia to cheer on here. Their presence made “The Force Awakens” a cultural event. In their absence, “Rogue One” falls back on the franchise’s familiar trappings: imperial walkers. Those rebel uniforms we first saw in the opening minutes of the original “Star Wars.” Even the strategy boardrooms look … familiar. That gives the project a sentimental edge over other space sagas. Will it be enough?
- Is the Force MIA: It’s just the first of what will likely be several trailers, but we don’t see an overt display of The Force quite yet. That’s an essential part of the “Star Wars” fabric. So are light sabers, which don’t make an appearance here, either. Here’s betting the Force will get more attention in the months to come. How could it not?
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will hit theaters Dec. 16, 2016