Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)


Introduction

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (or simply Rogue One) is a 2016 American epic space opera film directed by Gareth Edwards.

It is the first instalment of the Star Wars anthology series. It follows a group of rebels on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the Galactic Empire’s super weapon, just before the events of the original Star Wars film.

The cast includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, and Forest Whitaker.

Outline

Research scientist Galen Erso and his family are in hiding on the planet Lah’mu when Imperial weapons developer Orson Krennic arrives to press him into completing the Death Star, a space station-based superweapon capable of destroying entire planets. Galen’s wife, Lyra, is killed in the confrontation while their daughter, Jyn, escapes and is rescued by rebel extremist Saw Gerrera.

Fifteen years later, cargo pilot Bodhi Rook defects from the Empire, taking a holographic message recorded by Galen to Gerrera on the desert moon Jedha. Rebel Alliance intelligence officer Cassian Andor learns of the Death Star from an informant and frees Jyn from an Imperial labour camp at Wobani. Cassian brings Jyn to the Rebel leader Mon Mothma, who convinces her to find and rescue Galen so the Alliance can learn more about the Death Star. Cassian is covertly ordered to kill Galen rather than extract him.

Jyn, Cassian, and reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO travel to Jedha, where the Empire is removing kyber crystals from the holy city to power the Death Star; Gerrera and his partisans are engaged in an armed insurgency against them. With the aid of blind spiritual warrior Chirrut Îmwe and his mercenary friend Baze Malbus, Jyn makes contact with Gerrera, who has been holding Rook captive. Gerrera shows her the message, in which Galen reveals he has secretly built a vulnerability into the Death Star and directs them to retrieve the schematics from an Imperial data bank on the planet Scarif.

On the Death Star, Krennic orders a low-powered test shot which destroys Jedha’s capital. Jyn and her group take Rook and flee the moon, but Gerrera remains to die with the city. Grand Moff Tarkin congratulates Krennic before using Rook’s defection and security leak as a pretext to take control of the project. Rook leads the group to Galen’s Imperial research facility on the planet Eadu, where Cassian chooses not to kill Galen. Jyn makes her presence known moments before Rebel bombers attack the facility. Galen is mortally wounded by the bombers and dies in his daughter’s arms, before she escapes with her group on board a stolen Imperial cargo shuttle. Krennic is summoned by Darth Vader to answer for the attack on Eadu. Krennic seeks his support for an audience with the Emperor, but Vader instead Force-chokes him and orders him to ensure no further breaches occur.

Jyn proposes a plan to steal the Death Star schematics using the Rebel fleet but fails to gain approval from the Alliance Council, who feel victory against the Empire is now impossible. Frustrated at their inaction, Jyn’s group lead a small squad of Rebel volunteers to raid the databank themselves. Arriving at Scarif on the stolen Imperial ship, which Rook dubs “Rogue One”, a disguised Jyn and Cassian enter the base with K-2SO while the other Rebels attack the Imperial garrison as a diversion. The Rebel fleet learns of the raid from intercepted Imperial communications and deploys in support. K-2SO sacrifices himself so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the data. Îmwe is killed after activating the master switch to allow communication with the Rebel fleet, and Malbus is killed in action shortly afterwards. Rook is killed by a grenade after informing the Rebel fleet that it must deactivate the shield surrounding the planet to allow the transmission of the schematics. Jyn and Cassian obtain the schematics, but they are ambushed by Krennic, who is eventually shot and wounded by Cassian. Jyn transmits the schematics to the Rebel command ship. The Death Star enters orbit above Scarif, where Tarkin uses another low-power shot to destroy the compromised base, killing Krennic, Cassian and Jyn, along with all remaining ground Imperial and Rebel forces.

The Rebel fleet prepares to jump to hyperspace, but many of the fleet’s ships are intercepted by Vader’s arriving Star Destroyer. Vader boards the Rebel command ship and kills many of the rebel troops in an attempt to regain the schematics, but a small starship escapes with the plans on board. Aboard the fleeing ship, Princess Leia declares that the schematics will provide hope for the Rebellion.

Cast

  • Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, a young renegade woman who is detained for her crimes against the Empire until she is freed by the Rebel Alliance.
    • She has used many aliases during her life such as Lianna Hallik, Tanith Pontha, and Kestrel Dawn, while her father affectionately calls her “Stardust”.
    • Beau Gadsdon as 8-year-old Jyn.
    • Dolly Gadsdon as 4-year-old Jyn.
  • Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a Rebel captain and intelligence officer.
  • Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, the director of advanced weapons research for the Imperial military.
  • Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe, a blind warrior who believes in the Force. He is said to be one of the Guardians of the Whills.
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso, Jyn’s father and a research scientist.
  • Alan Tudyk as K-2SO, a former Imperial enforcer droid who was reprogrammed by Cassian Andor to serve the Rebellion.
  • Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook, a former Imperial cargo pilot who defects to the rebels under the influence of Galen Erso.
  • Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus, a longtime companion of Chirrut Îmwe and one-time devoted Guardian of the Whills, now a Rebel warrior and mercenary.
  • Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, a veteran of the Clone Wars and a friend of the Erso family who had mentored Jyn in her later childhood years.

Jimmy Smits, Genevieve O’Reilly, and Anthony Daniels reprise their roles from previous films as Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and C-3PO, respectively. James Earl Jones also reprises his role from previous films as the voice of Darth Vader, who is physically portrayed by Spencer Wilding during the meeting with Krennic and aboard the Star Destroyer, and by Daniel Naprous for the end scene. Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia Organa are played by Guy Henry and Ingvild Deila, respectively, with the digital likenesses of Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher superimposed. Henry also provides the voice for Tarkin, while archival audio of Fisher is used for Leia. Angus MacInnes and Drewe Henley are featured as Gold Leader Dutch Vander and Red Leader Garven Dreis, respectively, via unused footage from A New Hope; MacInnes returned to record new dialogue for Vander, while new dialogue for the deceased Henley was assembled from archival material. David Ankrum, who voiced Wedge Antilles in A New Hope, reprises his role in a vocal cameo. Ian McElhinney, Michael Smiley, Andy de la Tour and Tim Beckmann play General Jan Dodonna, Dr. Evazan, General Hurst Romodi and Captain Raymus Antilles, respectively. Warwick Davis plays Weeteef Cyubee, a member of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. R2-D2 and C1-10P also make cameo appearances. Stephen Stanton, known for his numerous roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) and Star Wars Rebels, gives voice to Admiral Raddus while Paul Kasey appears in costume as the alien character on-screen.

Additionally, Alistair Petrie plays General Davits Draven, Ben Daniels plays General Antoc Merrick, and Valene Kane plays Lyra Erso, Jyn’s mother. Jonathan Aris, Fares Fares and Sharon Duncan-Brewster appear as Senators Nower Jebel, Vasp Vaspar, and Tynnra Pamlo, respectively. Simon Farnaby plays a member of Blue Squadron. Jordan Stephens appears as Rebel Alliance member Corporal Tonc. Nick Kellington plays Bistan, the door gunner on a U-wing during the battle on Scarif. Ian Whyte plays Moroff, a member of Saw Gerrera’s Partisans. Daniel Mays appears as Tivik. Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman, director and producer of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017), respectively, cameo as two Death Star technicians.

Production

Development

Rogue One is the first film in the Star Wars anthology series, a series of standalone spin-off films in the Star Wars franchise. John Knoll, visual effects supervisor for the Star Wars prequel trilogy, pitched the idea as an episode of the unproduced series Star Wars: Underworld 10 years before the film’s development; after the Disney acquisition he felt as if he had to pitch it again or forever wonder “what might’ve happened if I had”. In May 2014, Disney announced Gareth Edwards would direct the film and Gary Whitta would write the script. That October, cinematographer Greig Fraser revealed that he would work on the film. In January 2015, it was revealed Whitta had completed his work on the script, and would no longer be with the project. Simon Kinberg was considered as a replacement. Later that month, it was announced Chris Weitz had signed to write the script for the film. In March 2015, the title was announced.

Edwards stated the style of the film would be similar to that of a war film, stating, “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie.” Assuming Disney would not allow a dark ending, Edwards had the main characters surviving in the original version of the script, but the producers opted for a more tragic ending and never filmed the original version.

In May 2016, reports emerged the film would undergo five weeks of reshoots with Tony Gilroy writing additional scenes, as well as acting as a second-unit director under Edwards. With input from Edwards, Gilroy oversaw the edit and additional photography of the film which tackled several issues, including the ending. In August, Gilroy was given screenplay credit alongside Weitz and was paid $5 million for his work on the film. Additionally, Christopher McQuarrie, Scott Z. Burns and Michael Arndt all contributed to the script at various stages in development.

In July 2016, discussing whether the film would feature an opening crawl, Kathleen Kennedy said, “we’re in the midst of talking about it, but I don’t think these [anthology] films will have an opening crawl.” Edwards explained “The idea is this film is supposed to be different than the saga films,” and that “This film is born out of a crawl. … There’s this feeling that if we did a crawl, then it’ll create another movie.” In November 2016, Kennedy confirmed the film would not feature an opening crawl, instead beginning in “a way that is traditional, with just the title.”

At the 2016 Star Wars Celebration, Edwards said the title had three meanings: “a military sign”, referring to the Red Squadron from A New Hope; “the ‘rogue’ one” of the franchise, given it is the first film to not be part of the main saga; and a description of Jyn Erso’s personality.

Casting

In January 2015, The Hollywood Reporter stated numerous actresses, including Tatiana Maslany, Rooney Mara, and Felicity Jones were being tested for the film’s lead. In February 2015, it was announced Jones was in final talks to star in the film, while Aaron Paul and Édgar Ramírez were being eyed for the male lead role. In March 2015, Jones was officially cast. In March 2015, Deadline Hollywood reported a rumour that Ben Mendelsohn was being considered for a lead role. The next month, TheWrap reported that Sam Claflin was being eyed for a role, while Riz Ahmed was in negotiations to join the film. In May, Mendelsohn, Ahmed, and Diego Luna were added to the cast of the film, in the lead roles. Forest Whitaker was added to the cast in June 2015. In July 2015, Jonathan Aris was cast to play Senator Jebel. Genevieve O’Reilly was cast as Mon Mothma, reprising her role from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). James Earl Jones was confirmed to return as the voice of Darth Vader in June 2016.

Filming

Principal photography on the film began at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire on 08 August 2015. Much of the other photography was completed at or near Pinewood Studios at Buckinghamshire, UK where huge sets were built to complement scenes filmed elsewhere in the world. The film was shot using Ultra Panavision 70 lenses with Arri Alexa 65 large format digital 6K cameras.

Filming locations were used around the world. In Iceland, the crew shot in Reynisfjara, and around the mountains of Hjörleifshöfði and Hafursey at Mýrdalssandur, which were used to represent Lah’mu and Eadu. Also used were the Krafla area with its volcanic crater and around Lake Mývatn’s rock formations. The islands of Gan and Baresdhoo of the Laamu Atoll in the Maldives, as well as the former RAF Bovingdon airfield, were used to represent Scarif. Wadi Rum in Jordan was used to represent Jedha. Pymmes Park in Edmonton, London was also used for location filming, and scenes set on Yavin 4 were filmed at Cardington Airfield. Gareth Edwards selected the London Underground’s Canary Wharf station as a location for a chase scene in an Imperial base; the location shoot took place between midnight and 4 am, when the station was closed to the public.

The film spent an estimated total of $265 million and received a $45.5 million subsidy from the United Kingdom’s film incentive programme.

Post-production

On 11 February 2016, Disney executives stated the film was “virtually completed”. Several weeks of pre-scheduled re-shoots began in June 2016. Tony Gilroy, who was an uncredited writer on the film at the time, was hired to direct the re-shoots and rework aspects of the film, earning him a screenwriting credit.

Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) produced the film’s visual effects. ILM used CGI and digitally altered archive footage to insert Peter Cushing’s likeness over the body of actor Guy Henry. Lucasfilm secured permission from the late actor’s estate to include him in the film. The team reportedly searched through countless hours of Cushing footage in order to find suitable reference material, and Henry provided the motion capture and voice work. A digital model of Cushing was mapped over Henry’s performance like a digital body mask. Cushing’s mannerisms, including his manner of speaking, were studied by the creative team and applied to the digital Tarkin model. Cushing’s estate was heavily involved with the creation and had input right down to “small, subtle adjustments”. A similar process was used in the portrayal of Princess Leia; Carrie Fisher’s appearance as Leia in the first film was superimposed over Norwegian actress Ingvild Deila’s face and archival audio of Fisher saying “Hope” was used to voice the character.

Post-production wrapped on 28 November 2016.

Trivia

  • Based on an idea first pitched by Knoll ten years before it entered development, the film was made to be different in tone and style from the traditional Star Wars films, omitting the customary opening crawl and transitional screen wipes.
  • Principal photography on the film began at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire, UK, in early August 2015 and wrapped in February 2016.
  • The film then went through extensive re-shoots directed by Gilroy in mid-2016.
  • It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for its story, visuals, musical score, and tone, but criticism for its underdeveloped characters and digital recreation of actors from the original trilogy.
  • It grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it the 36th-highest-grossing film of all time (20th at the time of its release), the second-highest-grossing film of 2016, and the fourth-highest-grossing film in the Star Wars franchise.
  • It received two Oscar nominations for Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.

Star Wars Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Gareth Edwards.
  • Producer(s): Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, and Simon Emanuel.
  • Writer(s): Chris Weitz (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (screenplay), John Knoll (story), and Gary Whitta (story).
  • Music: Michael Giacchino.
  • Cinematography: Greig Fraser.
  • Editor(s): John Gilroy, Jabez Olssen, and Colin Goudie.
  • Production: Lucasfilm Ltd.
  • Distributor(s): Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
  • Release Date: 10 December 2016 (Pantages Theatre, Hollywood) and 16 December 2016 (US general release).
  • Running time: 133 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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