The new standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One, is a prequel to A New Hope, and explains how the Rebel Alliance acquired the secret plans to the Death Star. Children’s book editor Jordan Hamessley London says the movie didn’t have the same emotional impact for her as last year’s The Force Awakens, but that she enjoyed it as a fast-paced spectacle.
“I really like action sequences in this universe,” Hamessley says in Episode 235 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “There’s space fights going on and ground war going on and hijinks with droids. The balance of all of that in the last act of the film was a ton of fun.”
Science fiction editor John Joseph Adams also enjoyed the film, particularly the way it focuses on the lives of ordinary soldiers rather than senators or Jedi.
“Rogue One is a war movie,” he says. “I really like that they brought this level of grittier reality to the Star Wars universe, which we haven’t gotten to see a lot of in the past.”
Author Matt London particularly admired the moral complexity of the story, which features sympathetic and unsympathetic characters working for both the Alliance and the Empire, and which shows the Rebels employing questionable means.
“This was the first Star Wars movie that really portrayed the Rebels as the terrorists that they are,” he says. “It felt like they were very much an insurgency, and that they were willing to do whatever it took to get the freedom that they needed.”
But author Rajan Khanna wishes the film had taken that even further. He says that Rogue One didn’t quite deliver the sort of serious military drama he was hoping for.
“The trailers looked so good that I think I imagined it was a specific kind of movie, and it wasn’t that movie,” he says. “I wanted it to be darker.”
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley agrees, and wonders if the darkness of the film was toned down during reshoots. An early trailer features Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) asking the film’s protagonist Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), “If you continue to fight, what will you become?” That’s a line and a theme that’s absent from the finished film.
“I think that’s very interesting, and suggests some sort of darker storyline for her that’s not in this at all,” Kirtley says. “She just becomes a completely bland hero by, say, two-thirds of the way through the movie. And I seriously wonder if there’s some more interesting character arc for her that has been excised from this film.”
Listen to our complete interview with Jordan Hamessley London, John Joseph Adams, Matt London, and Rajan Khanna in Episode 235 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Matt London on the Expanded Universe:
“The Empire is mining Kyber crystals in Jedha, and that’s interesting because Kyber crystals actually date back all the way to the original screenplays that Lucas worked on in preparation for what would eventually become Star Wars: Episode IV, and they feature prominently across all sorts of different pieces of the Star Wars universe. … The two characters that [the heroes] meet in the city are related to the Whills, which are part of another organization, or a holy book of some kind, that pre-dated the writing of the original Episode IV screenplay. So all of these things that were hidden in the background of the concept material for Star Wars, things that had been mined for pieces of the Expanded Universe, are now getting their moment in the sun in an actual theatrical film.”
David Barr Kirtley on the Rogue One trailers:
“About 60 percent of the shots from the trailers are not in the movie, and are telling a completely different story than what’s in the actual movie, so it was a really bizarre experience. … I thought it was interesting that they had these trailers that gave you a sense of the movie but then it doesn’t spoil the movie for you, because the actual movie is completely different. I’m sure that’s just because they reshot this thing so much, but it would be nice if all trailers were like that.”
Jordan Hamessley London on watching Rogue One:
“I saw The Force Awakens in New Rochelle opening weekend last year, and it was completely packed, people were in costume, and we stood in line for two hours to get into the theater. Now we live in Berkeley, and we literally just walked into the theater. I was wearing a Chewbacca hoodie, but nobody else was even remotely geeked out. And people would be like, ‘Hey, nice jacket,’ but nobody else was even showing their fan colors. And we went opening night. We went to the 8:00 showing as opposed to the 7:00 showing, so maybe the 7:00 showing is where all the true fans were. But it was a different experience from going to see The Force Awakens on a Saturday and it still being huge, versus going opening night in a college town and feeling like I was the weirdo in a Chewie jacket.”