[Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) was everything any mega fan could dream of a Star Wars reboot! Pulling in over $2 billion at the worldwide box office, and performing well amongst fans and critics alike, it's tough to think of a way The Force Awakens could have performed any better. And it would be even stranger to think that a mere side-project such as Rogue One could spark any flame, or light any lightsaber, that glows half as bright as this reboot's first instalment!
And then a trailer Rogue One was released, and the hype for it began to grow considerably. Now audiences are beginning to wonder; could Rogue One not only be good but great? Well in honour of the Star Wars holiday, Revenge of the Sixth, this article is going to take this argument a step further and ask; could Rogue One even go so far as to be better than The Force Awakens? Could this be the revenge of the spin-off so to speak? Well here's the arguments why that could become the case:
Being a Spin-off Could in Fact be an Advantage!
The moment anyone defines something as a 'spin-off' it is immediately assumed that 'it will never be as good as the original'. All you really have to do is mention Joey to understand that point. But in a movie franchise that also works as a connected universe, being a spin-off could in fact be a good thing. This is because where as The Force Awakens has to set-up plot-lines for future instalments of the franchise, much like the role of Age of Ultron for the MCU, a spin-off can spend a lot more time on just telling a good, standalone story. And at the end of the day, whether a movie is good or not, is mostly determined by how well the story is told, not how well future stories are set-up. It's often the reason people give as to why Marvel fans tend to prefer Captain America: The Winter Soldier, or Guardians of the Galaxy over The Avengers, or Age of Ultron, despite the latter movies tending to have a bigger budget and more household names. How many left the theatre after seeing The Force Awakens with questions? Questions over who the identity of the villain truly was? Who are Ray's parents? Where was Poe for eighty per cent of the movie? These questions were all setting up for future instalments, but it did leave the viewer with a degree of dissatisfaction, a con Rogue One will probably have a lot less to grapple with.
A Darker Setting
Rogue One is set in a time we've all heard about, but that no Star Wars movie has yet ever actually been set in. It's a time when the jedi have been all but eradicated and The Empire is at the peak of it's power. The dark times don't get any darker than this. The Empire Strikes Back, often cited as the best Star Wars film to date, was so great in no small part due to it's darker tone. This gave writer George Lucas and director Irvin Kershner an opportunity to tackle interesting themes about identity, morality, spirituality and justice within the space-opera genre. This clash of themes lent credence to the authenticity and originality of the film franchise, and allowed it to reach new cinematic heights that haven't been reached since. Therefore the darker setting of Rogue One could be a good omen for what's in store!
An Original Director
JJ Abrams isn't the only director in recent times to launch an incredibly successful reboot. Director of Rogue One, Gareth Edwards previously directed 2014's Godzilla, another greatly successful franchise reboot. Furthermore, Edwards is arguably an even more exciting director because he isn't afraid to put his own mark on a well-beloved franchise. Godzilla wasn't afraid to take risks as a movie, as seen in it's decision to tease audiences by showing barely any action until the final act. This was a brave decision in an industry that stereotypically seeks to entertain audiences with a constant baragement of explosions and loud noises for fear that they might get bored. This is a great sign because it means that the studio has hired Edwards despite knowing that he likes to keep studio-influence at arms length. After recent claims that box office slumps such as Fan4stic were due to studios getting too involved in the film-making process, this a good sign that story will come before profit in Rogue One and that Edwards will ensure originality in the film's narrative!
A Stella Cast
Despite falling in love with the new characters introduced to us in The Force Awakens, the honest truth is I'm still more excited for the cast in Rogue One! This being due to the fact that although these actors may be new to the Star Wars universe, almost all of them are pretty much legends in the genre's of cinema they originate from. The list includes the likes of Diego Luna, who starred in the cult/coming of age classic Y Tu Mama Tambien. Also featuring in Rogue One is Mads Mikkelsen, an iconic actor from the revolution in Danish independent cinema, starring in such movies as The Pusher Trilogy, and more recently The Hunt. Forest Whitaker(The Shield) and of course the almighty bad-ass that is Donnie Yen, star of I.P. Man are also starring in Rogue One. This is therefore any independent cinema fan's dream cast, and for them to all conglomerate in a Star Wars movie truly is the icing on the cake. With acting chops like this, even if Rogue One proves to be a disappointment, it won't be down to the cast!
The Spirit Of Adventure
For me Star Wars has always been about, and should always be about a space-operatic fantasy adventure! Although there is no denying that JJ Abrams certainly captured this adventure element in The Force Awakens, he also had to juggle a lot of other themes and features as well. Rogue One being a standalone film means it can be just that; an epic thrill-ride from the first second to the last! Nothing more and nothing less! And all indicators point toward that being the case! A director with a filmography that includes Godzilla and Monsters, both movies that were great spectacles in and of themselves, producers with a back-catalogue that includes Jurassic Park, E.T., and The Pacific, as well as a cast of characters who were the stars of such films as I.P. Man and Y Tu Mama means that Disney has quite essentially created a dream cast and crew to execute a masterpiece in the space-opera genre! And I for one can't wait to see if or how they pull it off! In other words, let's hope adventure is the name of the game in this one!
One thing is for sure, director Neil Edwards isn't afraid to take risks. And with high risk comes high reward. Unfortunately despite this, studios tend not to take these big risks because they are exactly that; risky. But by the looks of it so far, Disney has been wiling to take a risk with Edwards. And this is not totally surprising since they've done it in the past with Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier for example. Therefore the dividends that might be paid out could be massive! We could have a potential bonafide classic on our hands! And who knows, maybe, just maybe, it could end up being better than The Force Awakens! But, let's not shoot it if it's not.