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Disney and Paramount had an interesting agreement where Lucasfilm agreed to not begin heavily promoting their first Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, until Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was released. Presumably because they felt that moviegoers can only handle a limited amount of roguishness in their lives. Mission Impossible has had an incredible run and is still going strong, however now it is Lucasfilm's turn to start their own marketing campaign.

Today at the D23 Convention in Anaheim, Lucasfilm revealed the official cast and crew of Rogue One, in the first official set photo.

Left to Right: Actors Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.
Left to Right: Actors Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Jiang Wen and Donnie Yen.

Another interesting aspect of today's press release from Lucasfilm is director Gareth Edwards' (Godzilla) choice of crew, which signals the direction that he is taking the film in and it is a very exciting direction. He has brought on the cinematographer of Zero Dark Thirty, Greig Fraser, which signals that Rogue One will be attempting to throw the viewer directly into the war-time action. At times Fraser's work feels almost like a documentary, in that you feel that the characters and situations are actually real. Edwards has also hired Neil Corbould to be his special effects supervisor. He is a war film veteran as well, with such classics as Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan on his resume. This is another strong indication that Edwards is looking to achieve "invisible" special effects, which leave the viewer unaware that they are seeing a visual effect. This all amounts to a hard-hitting war film set firmly in the Star Wars universe.

Official Concept Art for Rogue One
Official Concept Art for Rogue One

It is important to note who has been named to the cast, yet is not in the official photo. Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal), and Alan Tudyk (Serenity), also fill out the cast. At every turn there seems to be exceptional character actors that will certainly bring a level of realism to the Star Wars universe that we haven't seen yet. Producer Kathleen Kennedy explained the story and tone of Rogue One in more depth:

“Rogue One takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe. It goes into new territory, exploring the galactic struggle from a ground-war perspective while maintaining that essential Star Wars feel that fans have come to know. Gareth is such an innovative director and I’m so excited to be working with him and the extraordinary ensemble cast he’s selected for ‘Rogue One.’”

There are a lot of things to like about this cast. When you look down the roster, it is clear that Edwards is not selecting pop talent, but assembling a world-class collection of actors. The cast literally spans the globe, which will certainly help Disney at the international box-office, with foreign superstars such as Donnie Yen supporting the rebel cause. It also appears that Yen is blind. Fans of Blind Fury and Daredevil know that there isn't anything cooler than a blind man doing martial arts...except for Star Wars. If Edwards is giving us both in one movie...someone start measuring that guy's head for his King of the Geeks' crown.

Felicity Jones looks at home in the center of the band of Rebel fighters, who will steal the plans for the Death Star. The biggest question for this film is not if they will succeed, but HOW they will succeed and who will actually make it out alive. The main cast shown in the photo clearly aren't part of the original trilogy. That should help to keep tensions high throughout the film. The gritty war realism, combined with expendable characters will add a new layer to the Star Wars universe. Check out the release.

Official Press Release:

Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) is directing Rogue One, which tells the story of resistance fighters who have united to steal plans to the dreaded Death Star. The film is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and is slated for a December 16, 2016 release.

The filmmakers have assembled a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, nominated for an Academy Award for her leading role in The Theory of Everything; Diego Luna, who was featured in 2008’s Oscar-winning Milk and the critically acclaimed Killing Them Softly; Ben Mendelsohn, recently nominated for an Emmy for his leading role in Bloodline and co-starring in the upcoming Mississippi Grind; Donnie Yen, Hong Kong action star and martial artist who starred in Ip Man and Blade II; Jiang Wen, who co-wrote, produced , directed and starred in the award-winning Let the Bullets Fly and Devils on the Doorstep; Forest Whitaker, recently featured in the critically-acclaimed Lee Daniels’ The Butler and winner of an Academy Award for his leading role in 2006’s The Last King of Scotland; Mads Mikkelsen, who starred in The Hunt and was the memorable villain from 2006’s Casino Royale; Alan Tudyk, who plays a performance-capture character in Rogue One, stars in the soon-to-be-released Con Man series and Trumbo, which releases this November; and Riz Ahmed, who was recently featured in Nightcrawler and starred in the BAFTA-winning film Four Lions.

To create the lived-in, realistic feel of Rogue One, Edwards chose Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Foxcatcher) to be his director of photography and Neil Corbould (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan) to be his special effects supervisor. Star Wars and Lucasfilm veteran Doug Chiang (Star Wars: Episodes I-II, Forrest Gump) and Neil Lamont (supervising art director for the Harry Potter series, Edge of Tomorrow) will be the production designers. Additional crew members will include stunt coordinator Rob Inch (World War Z, Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger), creature effects supervisor Neal Scanlan (Prometheus) and co-costume designers Dave Crossman (costume supervisor for the Harry Potter series, Saving Private Ryan) and Glyn Dillon (costume concept artist for Kingsman: The Secret Service, Jupiter Ascending).
Star Wars: Rogue One opens on December 16th, 2016.

Source: Point of Geeks

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