"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" grossed over $789 million worldwide, which would make this space opera the seventh highest-grossing film of 2016. Don't be surprised if it could reach the billion-dollar mark in a month or two. This one wouldn't be a part of the narrative that featured Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Hans Solo, although moviegoers would see a younger Carrie Fisher in the final scene.
John Knoll, the visual supervisor for the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, thought about the other characters who were part of this intergalactic saga. If the "Star Wars" series were a set of books, then these characters would be footnotes. But not in the big screen. Gareth Edwards adapted the script of Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, and the collaboration clicked on this one. Perhaps Lucasfilm should retain the trio for another standalone spin-off film. Fans would love to know the origins of Hans Solo and Chewbacca. Both Weitz and Gilroy were also known filmmakers, yet Edwards would know a fresh approach to an old film. (The English filmmaker did a decent remake of "Godzilla".)
Time will tell if "Rogue One" will be the most-acclaimed motion picture from the "Star Wars" series, but there's no doubt that the pros outweigh the cons. Here are five reasons:
Edwards, Weitz, and Gilroy opted for a darker tone in the story. The opening scene, a bleak terrain in the planet Lah'mu, would give the audience a hint. This particular "Star Wars" film could be different from the previous pictures. It had nothing to do with another young actress in the lead role (or another British actor appearing in the series). Film buffs should have guessed that the plot was quite similar to "The Dirty Dozen", a cue that not one of the characters would get away alive (and tell their unforgettable story later). It may not be original, but Edwards must be patted on the back. (Otherwise, the non-fans might not have good words after the screening.) Weitz and Gilroy shouldn't be faulted for the lack of character development, as the plot picked up after the first twenty minutes. It might be a different outcome if the running time reached three hours.
Lucasfilm must be praised for a diverse cast. Mexican actor Diego Luna shared the spotlight with Oscar-nominated actress Felicity Jones while Hong Kong superstar Donnie Yen nearly stole the show for his Zatoichi-like role. British rapper Riz Ahmed, who played a jumpy cargo pilot, had Pakistani roots. It would be hard to accuse the company of whitewashing.
CGI brought Peter Cushing back to life. Peter Cushing was one of the big stars of Horror Cinema, most remembered for playing Abraham van Helsing in countless Hammer Productions. He also starred in a number of unforgettable Amicus anthologies, so he was the first pick to play a villain in this saga. Fans would remember the menacing voice of James Earl Jones (as Darth Vader), but Cushing won't be a distant second.
The jaw-dropping locations would prompt viewers to ask for more places. Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, which distributed the prequel trilogy and this standalone spin-off film, wouldn't have second thoughts about more films (and more planets). Kevin Feige might have something to worry about.
Fans would be obsessed about the next spin-off pictures. Aside from Han Solo and Chewbacca, the whereabouts of Grand Moff Tarkin might be another interesting angle. If not him, then someone working for him. (Cushing played Tarkin.) C-3PO and R2-D2, who have cameo appearances in "Rogue One", deserved their own standalone films. (Fans would love to know if they have kin.) Last but not the least, another family member of Darth Vader. What do you think?