What will you become?
The first time I saw the Rogue One teaser when it dropped a couple months ago, I thought it looked cool, that it resembled the franchise of old in terms of costumes and overall production design and that it importantly maintained Gareth Edwards “on-the-ground” action that worked so marvelously in his previous film, Godzilla. Then I watched it few more times and I really got excited. The more I saw, the more I realized that this was going to be different from other Star Wars movies, that it wasn’t going to be glamorous, that it was grittier, rougher, that it was actually going to be a war movie. And I really liked that it was going to be different, and for a moment there, I was more excited to see Rogue One than Episode XIII. Until the recent rumors have surfaced over the last few days saying that Disney is unhappy with the darker tone and that much of the film will be reshot. I hope those rumors are untrue. Let’s take another look at the great teaser trailer here before I go too far writing about the recent rumors:
I just got chills again watching that!!! What a great trailer. And you know why? Because it presents a familiar franchise through a new lens of a unique filmmaker. This world is still the same, there are still stormtroopers and AT-ATs, but there are new aspects, like that shot of the tank and a new type of trooper. And the tone is the most important change. This isn’t supposed to be an adventurous movie, it’s a war mission movie. It isn’t supposed to be light-hearted and jovial. The tone matches the stories and characters presented in this two minute long marketing piece. And for a long time Gareth Edwards has described this movie as a war movie, and now Disney apparently is unhappy with that tone.
Again, these recent rumors that 40% of the movie will be reshot and that the first executive screenings didn’t go over well are all just rumors and have not been substantiated by anyone at Disney, nor the filmmakers attached to Rogue One. One rumor has already been shot down by Christopher McQuarrie himself when some reported he would be on hand to assist the reshoots. And, like many modern blockbusters, reshoots are par for the course and are no cause for concern. Many great big Hollywood blockbusters have reshoots and turn out great, and that’s fine. My problem with these rumors, if one or some turn out to be true, is that if Disney is unhappy with the tone of the film, why turnaround on it now?
Surely Edwards must have pitched his take on this particular story? Surely the executives at Disney were aware that he was describing this movie as a morally grey war film? Surely they must have been smart enough to realize that that type of story would require a grittier tone compared to The Force Awakens, right?
But maybe they didn’t, or maybe they got scared, or maybe these rumors are all just bullshit. I understand that executives would be nervous that a film wouldn’t do as well as the previous film, I get that. A lot of investment and time and hard work has been put into this film, and, in many ways, Rogue One needs to prove itself at the box office more than The Force Awakens because it is a different type of Star Wars film, it isn’t part of the main saga, it has its ties but it really is a standalone story. It needs to hit all main key demographics for Disney to be satisfied. If this fails and greatly underperforms, Disney’s plan to release a Star Wars movie every year may have to be re-examined, which is understandable. And so these rumors suggest that Disney wants to add more levity to the film and make it less serious. But, as a fan, I hope that Disney does allow this different tone and story to be told the way Gareth Edwards intended.
As a fan, I want to see something different in this universe, even if it is another story about taking down the Death Star, because I’ve seen seven films now about the Skywalkers. I want to see others in the universe, I want the characters to be from different planets and to have different views of the Empire and Rebellion. I want something different in the same universe. And if that something is a darker, less adventurous war mission film crossed with a serious heist film, then yes please let me see that. A side story can still be related to an overarching story if there are similar settings, themes and ideas while explored through different archetypes and tone. If ever Star Wars film follows the same mold, then why keep seeing them? Why keep experiencing the same thing through a slightly different lens? As much as I find the prequels boring, at least Lucas tried to do something different with the Star Wars formula. As much as I enjoyed The Force Awakens, I preferred the newer characters more than the little call backs to the original trilogy.
I love Star Wars because of the world it created and for its varying characters. The fun adventure tone works, but so did the darker, morally grey tone of Empire Strikes Back. I’m not saying that Disney is definitely reshooting 40% of Rogue One this summer, because that sounds preposterous. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney would second guess the tone and themes this standalone film is presenting, which could cause trouble at the box office. I hope that isn’t the case. I hope that these are just typical blockbuster reshoots that are often already accounted for in the production budget. Because I want something new in the Star Wars universe. I want that promise of the teaser trailer. I want something unique.