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Stay on target … Stay on target … The new Rogue One trailer delivers a deeper look into the story of the Rebel heist of the Death Star plans, and in this gallery EW highlights some of its revelations. Not only do we get a first look at Darth Vader’s return, but the first Star Wars spin-off movie (out Dec. 16) also breaks convention with the style of the previous films.
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Star Wars has never before used a straight-up flashback sequence before. (Rey’s impressionistic “Forceback vision” in The Force Awakens is the closest they’ve ever come.) But in Rogue One, we will go back to when Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso was just a young girl. The trailer starts with this shot of an Imperial shuttle, cruising over the shoreline of her tundra home, with her planet’s Saturn-like rings overhead.
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Jyn’s father, a pioneering scientist named Galen Erso (played by Mads Mikkelsen), reassures his daughter: “Whatever I do … I do it to protect you.” Although he is critical to the construction of the Death Star, we are meant to know he is doing this against his will. He's not a bad guy, just trapped.
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This shot is Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ ominous echo of the iconic moment in the original Star Wars when Luke Skywalker stares off into the twin sunsets of Tatooine, imagining a greater destiny. As Galen looks down on the Imperial soldiers arriving to collect him, he has a much bleaker future.
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This trailer reveals that Director Orson Krennic, later the head of the Empire's special weapons division, is also the longtime architect of Jyn's family misfortune. In this shot, we learn that Ben Mendelsohn's villain, then a much lower-ranked officer, is the one who arrived flanked by Deathtroopers to capture her father.
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And here's where it becomes clear that those memories are part of a dream that haunts Jyn as she awakens in grim circumstances -- locked in an Imperial prison with a Stormtrooper guard outside and a slumbering alien cellmate on the cot across from her. In the first Rogue One trailer, we saw Jyn frogmarched into a Rebel base in handcuffs, but it was unclear who she wronged or what law she broke. This trailer reveals, she was actually rescued by the Rebellion from the clutches of the galactic dictatorship.
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The filmmakers have said there are no Jedi in Rogue One. This is the story of regular, non-mystical heroes who rise up against evil. But the remnants of spirituality are all over the movie, such as this haunting shot of a colossal statue, half-buried in desert sands, with a U-Wing starship floating overhead like an insect. A Jedi artifact from the Force-sacred world of Jedha? Most likely. But it is one long-fallen into disrepair.
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The trailer never gives us a look at this Imperial officer, striding into a meeting of fellow men in grey. But there have long been rumors -- and expectations -- that Rogue One would feature the late Peter Cushing's Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin. This silhouette certainly suggests that arrogant Imperialist, though we have yet to see how they might resurrect a character whose actor is long gone.
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Vader, baby. Here's where the Rogue One trailer pulls out a big gun, but doesn't fire it. We don't hear him speak (although James Earl Jones is returning to voice the Sith Lord). But we do see his reflection against a flaming red orb, perhaps a sun or planet about to be attacked. And we see Krennic going face to face with him, lecturing the former Anakin Skywalker as if he doesn't know the power of the dark side. Ha.
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While we're on the subject of Vader, we also get a new look at Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera -- an extremist Rebel, who began his career as an insurgent beside a young Anakin Skywalker. (The character originated on the animated TV series The Clone Wars.) It has been many years since he was a young man, and his battles have cost him more than we may ever know. Not only has he lost the people who were closest to him, he has literally lost parts of himself -- limping forward with a mechanical leg and respirator armor (not unlike a certain former Jedi and his black mask).
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It's almost a picture postcard: Wish I Wasn't Here. The Death Star has always resembled a kind of moon, a massive celestial body floating through deep space. In Rogue One, with gorgeously rendered shots like this, we get to see more of its interaction with the atmosphere of a planet as it hovers in low orbit over what appears to be the tropical world of Scarif.
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We don't yet know what to call this structure, rising off the shoreline of Scarif like a mechanical temple. But it's clear this world is being used as a base of operations for the Death Star, either to finish its construction or to maintain supply lines for what must surely be a gargantuan army stationed aboard it.
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Scarif will be the site of a massive battle between the Rebels and the Empire, the first (as we know from the opening crawl of the original Star Wars) that the good guys actually win against their enemy. Here we see the U-Wing fighter swooping in amid thundering AT-ACTs, stomping through the surf like four-legged tanks.
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Another throwback to the earlier saga -- the classic shot of the Rebel team, arrayed around a hologram of their target.
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"I'm Edrio Two-Tubes..."
"No, I am Edrio Two-Tubes!"
This Immortan Joe-looking hombre is an alien from a planet called Yar Togna, which was invaded and decimated by the Empire. Now, he fights alongside Saw Gerrera, joined by his brother (what Lucasfilm calls his "eggmate") Benthic. Although which is which ... who can ever tell with twins when you first meet them?
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The trailer also gives a quick glimpse of the cameraderie between Donnie Yen's blind warrior-monk Chirrut Imwe and his non-believing friend Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen). Chirrut uses his Force-faith to help him take down a gang of Stormtroopers, but when the going gets too rough, Baze steps in with his heavy-duty blaster to finish the job. #Teamwork
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One thing we didn't get from The Force Awakens was a space battle. (The dogfights in that film all took place within the skies of surface worlds.) Rogue One is promising a return to explosions in zero atmosphere, showcasing a trio of X-Wings in a desperate battle against a large Imperial structure floating in orbit.
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Whoever this is in the foreground of what looks like a Death Star strike against Jedha ... they must have a bad feeling about this. For now, Rogue One is leaving us with a similar sense of impending doom, even though we know from galactic history that everything works out for the best. The question is: What sacrifice was made for the sake of a new hope?