If God exists in the Star Wars universe, he'd be male, with curly light-grey hair and a grey, neatly-groomed goatee. He'd answer not to prayers but to the name of George Lucas. After all, the adventures of the Skywalkers, the Solos, and everything up to The Force Awakens was a result of Lucas's creative genius.
Divine comparisons aside, despite no longer being directly involved in production after selling LucasFilm to Disney, Lucas's opinion on Star Wars still carries significant sway. It's an opinion he's not afraid of sharing; he criticized The Force Awakens for lacking originality and being too "retro," shortly before it became the third highest-grossing film of all time.
So, what does Lucas think of #RogueOne, the first in the anthology spinoffs? A movie met with as much trepidation as excitement? A standalone film that concludes within minutes of A New Hope, where it all began in 1977? In a welcome boost to pre-release expectations, Rogue One has already got one up on its predecessor — God (a.k.a. George Lucas) is happy with it.
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A Welcome Appraisal
Talking at a press conference for the film, ScreenRant report that director Gareth Edwards gushed when talking about Lucas's opinion on the final product. He said:
"Two days ago we got to show George the movie, and we all had a phone call and I got to speak with him yesterday, and I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie. It meant a lot.
To be honest, and no offense to anyone here, it was the most important review to me. You know, you guys are important too, but he’s kind of god… I will take that conversation to my grave. His opinion means the world to me."
From Edwards's perspective, #GeorgeLucas's approval will be a welcome relief. While his opinion isn't necessarily gospel, it will be an antidote to a host of worrying news reports surrounding the film's production, and concerns at how such reports would translate to the final product.
News of reshoots over the summer was met with mild hysteria, claiming that the tone was too dark and Rogue One faced some sort of #StarWars identity crisis. More recently, Michael Giacchino's revelation that he only had a month to work on the score — after replacing original composer Alexandre Desplat — left question marks over the film's state of affairs. That was before confirmation that script doctor Tony Gilroy had a much bigger input that first thought, reflected by his pay increasing from $200,000 to $5 million.
28 Minutes Later
However, as the release date quickly approaches, positive news has begun to counteract apprehension. On top of Lucas's appraisal, a select few were treated to an exclusive screening, featuring 28 minutes of footage. Early response seems to confirm Rogue One takes a darker perspective on the Star Wars universe, with its separation from the main saga allowing a different stylistic approach.
Likened to a war movie, much of the praise on social media centers around the film's uncompromising, all-out action, something suited to a film focusing on a bloody and seemingly hapless rebellion. Plus, despite being trapped in between Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977), the film is said to explore new territory. Aside from the overall feel of the film, debut droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) has been singled out as one of the highlights.
Of course, this initial response should be taken with a pinch of salt. Often early screenings receive positive feedback, and it's difficult to tell the overall state of a film from 28 minutes footage. But, for a film that has faced challenge after challenge, the signs suggest Rogue One could stand proud amongst its peers, in the process becoming a profitable move for Disney and welcome addition to the Star Wars story.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is released on December 16, 2016.