The fascinating thing in the new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is how it repeatedly sets up a battle of scale — puny Rebels (or galactic civilians) facing down the gargantuan forces of the Empire. The second trailer subconsciously suggests a very old tale: David vs. Goliath. It’s even present among friends, with Felicity Jones’ tiny Jyn Erso staring down the towering former Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).
You can also see this motif in the very early shots, as an Imperial Star Destroyer dwarfs an entire city on the mesa below it. Judging by the architecture and climate, this is Jedha, a sacred world to Force followers, worshipped by those who believe in a greater power — and conquered by a dictatorship that’s building up a different kind of might.
In the previous trailer, Jyn was shackled and pressed into service on behalf of the Rebellion as part of their plan to take down the Death Star. In this trailer, we first see her in a ratty hideout with Saw Gerrera, Forest Whitaker’s Empire-hating insurgent. The Rebels see him almost as a terrorist, so Jyn’s ties to him might be what land her in handcuffs. Even as she serves the good guys, she’s outmatched and overpowered.
But she has a choice – help the Rebels and get herself out of trouble. She’s actually being “recruited,” as Diego Luna’s Captain Cassian Andor tells her. They take off in this U-Wing fighter (with actor Alistair Petrie’s still-unnamed Rebel officer looking on), and their mission is putting together a team.
That takes them to another world — one of tall peaks and lightning storms. Their now miniscule U-Wing glides through the chasms of this unspecified world. Given who we meet next, and knowing they are natives of Jedha, maybe this is merely another part of the Force-sacred planet?
“They destroyed our home,” says Jiang Wen’s Baze Malbus as he blasts away Stormtroopers in the dark, blue night. Behind him is Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior-monk. Both are natives of Jedha, and this appears to be a revenge attack. They’re about to be recruited by Jyn and Cassian for something bigger. Goliath is still massive, but David is putting on muscle.
“I fear nothing. All is as the Force wills it,” says Chirrut, now clearly on the streets of this plateau city on Jedha. He walks into the center of a squad of Stormtroopers and proceeds to decimate them — despite being hopelessly outnumbered, and without the use of sight. Score one for the little guy.
Even victories have consequences. The sun over Jedha is blocked out in an eclipse, but… as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say: “That’s no moon.” We can’t know if the order of events in the trailer matches the chronology of the film, but this is an ominous sign for Jedha and its people.
Even in horror, there is sometimes beauty. The massive shape of the Death Star appears to be turned upside down, but of course there is no rightside up in space. This is the battle station floating on the underside of the planet (again, it looks a lot like Jedha). It’s a big world, but size matters not, as a little green Jedi once said. The Death Star could do plenty of damage, if it’s operational.
Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic, head of the Empire’s Advanced Weapons Research division, stalks toward a view of the planet, surrounded by his Deathtroopers. If there’s an uprising on this world, it’s one he needs to quash immediately. There is something within Jedha that is vital to the Empire’s plans, but once they have it… maybe there is no further use for this planet.
We know two things about Krennic. One, he’s ambitious — eager to please the Emperor and ascend to a higher position of power within the Empire. Two, he’s volatile and unpredictable. Those are always qualities that make for a great leader, right? (Not that we’d have seen any real-life examples of that lately.) That’s always a trait of Goliaths: overconfidence.
We’ve been quoting a lot of old Star Wars characters here, but here’s just one more from Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds.” Kaytoo informs Jyn and Cassian that their mission against the Empire has “a 97.6 percent chance of failure.” It’s a hopeless cause. Insurmountable.
But of course, we know (from seeing the other movies) they’re going to beat those odds. The only question is what the cost of victory may be. Here we see most of the team, ready to launch their strike on the beach world of Scarif to score the Rebels’ first victory against the Empire. But who knows how many will be left standing at the end.
The closing images of the Rogue One trailer are full of small heroes and crushing (in this case, literally) opponents. It’s hard to tell what exactly is happening here, but it’s Jyn and Cassian’s U-Wing, trying to flee what looks like a huge chunk of the planet folding in on itself.
It’s not a rock and a sling, but Bazooka Baze here is standing strong against one of the AT-ACT Imperial walkers. One man against one massive machine.
That’s a devastating right hook. “Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
In another portrait of a lone woman dwarfed by a weapon of war, Jyn stalks across a windswept platform, armed only with a blaster, to confront an Imperial TIE Fighter. It’s human vs. machine. Outmatched again, but maybe not.
The final shot of the trailer reveals a classic character, one we’re told will appear in the movie only “sparingly.” This is not a case of man vs. machine. This is what happens when the two fuse — and make a monster. We knowRogue One will not be his downfall, but it sets in motion the events that will end his reign of terror, with someone freeing the decent person trapped within the mechanism. That itself sounds like an impossible hope.