Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer Breakdown

by Beej Powers

Let’s get the formalities aside. I’m Beej Powers. I’m a movie geek. I’m a hobbyist writer. I’m also the type of Star Wars fan that has an Imperial cog tattoo and a kid named Luke. So it’s only fitting that my first post here at Bad Shakespeare is a breakdown of the first teaser for Rogue One: A Star Wars Film.

Let’s go!

Screen-Shot-2016-04-07-at-8.10.25-AM00:08 – Fade up to a woman walking down a stone hall with doors and mechanics that are unmistakably from the Star Wars universe. The music is a somber, single piano playing the Force theme from all the previous films.

00:10 – A male voice over asking someone, presumably the woman in the shot, to state her name for the record.


00:13 – A woman responds “Jyn Erso” (sp?) as the woman (Felicity Jones) on screen turns around to look at camera when am solider, wearing the same rebel helmet and uniform seen in the opening attack of A New Hope, redirects her off screen.


00:19 – The male VO continues as he lists her wrap sheet for crimes she has been charged with. On screen, the soldier escorts Erso through a hanger where we get bombarded with Star Wars universe imagery. There is an X-Wing fighter in a bay being worked on, X-Wing pilots in their orange flight suits, ground crew looking much like the crews in the Yavin IV base at the end of A New Hope, droids.



00:25 – Fade up to a control room. The map panels all around are modern production value versions of the one from the Yavin IV control room from A New Hope. A woman begins to speak about Erso’s personal past. The woman speaking is Mon Mothma, general for the rebellion, and previously only seen at the end of Return of the Jedi and in a non speaking role in Revenge of the Sith.


00:27 – Cutting to shots of other people in the room, we see Diego Luna’s character. He appears to be a veteran of the rebellion and unsure of bringing Jyn Erso on board.


00:28 – In response to her sordid past, Erso replies “This is a rebellion isn’t it? I rebel.” Cut into this response is her walking down a Tattooine like back alley (we will call this Dirt Planet until it gets named officialy), then confronting a detachment of classic Stormtroopers.


00:32 – A skirmish commences and we see that Erso can handle herself in a fight. We get our first glimpse of hand to hand combat, some E-11 blaster action, and a small explosion in the middle of the remaining Stormtroopers.

00:37 – Lucasfilm logo fades up to drum, cello, and brass music that evokes the classic John Williams score but is clearly new themes for this new story.


00:40 – Erso is aboard a transport of some sort, looking out the window.

00:42 – Mon Mothma voice over “We have a mission for you”


00:43 – Fade to space. A Star Destroyer glides past an immense metallic structure with an even larger shadow casting slowly over everything. Mon Mothma’s voice over continues “A major weapons test is imminent and we need to know what it is and how to destroy it.”



00:51 – The shot cuts wider to see the moving shadow was being cast by the laser array dish for the under construction Death Star.


00:54 – Back in the control room, Erso accepts the mission. Or at the very least affirms that she understands what is being asked of her.

00:57 – Space. The text “This December” fades up with a low grumble of music and the emergency alarm from the Death Star as heard from A New Hope.


01:01 – The hanger bay again; pilots, soldiers and two of our heroes are all moving with a purpose.


01:03 – Our first look at Mads Mikkelsen Ben Mendelsohn. He is standing in a room very reminiscent of Vader’s hologram chamber. He wears a white cloak with an imperial rank insignia on it, he appears to be an Admiral.


01:06 – Back on the Dirt Planet, patrols of Stromtroopers move through the streets. It’s unclear if they are on routine patrol or on a mission to find someone. Regardless, their presence and movements are intimidating.


01:07 – Our first look at Forest Whittaker. This may be where I really begin to give more opinion on what is happening on screen. Whittaker’s costume is what I would describe as “steampunk samurai”. I don’t hate it, by any means. But it feels slightly incongruous to the Star Wars universe.


01:09 – A power station is on fire and we see a new type of Stormtrooper. They are completely black uniforms. Every piece of armor, the pauldron, the weapons. Everything. These could be referred to as Shadowtroopers or Darktroopers or some new iteration. The uniform also has a major change in the helmet. Instead of the wide lower face portion with the respirtors, this helmet has the respirators shoot straight down from the ears to the chin, creating a narrower helmet with sharp edges and straight lines. The nose piece is also separate instead of being molded into the helmet. It also has sharp angles unlike anything we’ve seen before except slightly similar to the Biker Scout helmet from Return of the Jedi.

01:10 – Captured rebels are taken through a more modern, steel and lights corridor, much like one that would be found on the Death Star or a Star Destroyer.


01:11 – Through those same style corridors, rebels and troops alike are running. To something? Probably not since they should be enemies. Away from something? More likely. But, whatever is causing the commotion is off screen and not mentioned.


01:15 – Possibly back on Dirt Planet, we see Donnie Yen’s character for the first time. He is surrounded by Stormtroopers. Yen’s character is a martial arts master with a staff. He makes quick work of the platoon.


01:17 – Shadowtroopers firing at something that isn’t going to survive.

A transport explodes.

Mikkelsen Mendelsohn’s character walks ashore with his cloak dragging in the water. Yet the cloak appears clean. He is too cool to care.


01:19 – A cloaked figure enters an Imperial room. There is a large white “tube” in the center. To each side of the room is an Emporer’s Royal Guard. The figure appears to have a black cloak on and his hood over his head. He kneels at the tube. This is most likely Darth Vader. And the tube is most likely an unfinished VFX shot (I’m guessing). Many other sites are positing that this is not Vader.

Here’s why I think it is: We have never seen Vader wearing a cloak with the cowl up. So this introduction could be a cool reveal moment in the film. And since it’s such a great shot that asks more questions than it answers, it’s perfect for a teaser trailer. Also, we know that the “Star Wars Story” films are not going to be about Jedi, and subsequently Sith, so why would they start introducing multiple cloak wearing characters? Or is it a commentary on the fashion of 1BBY?


01:21 – Another glimpse of Whittaker, and a succession of shots with soldiers and characters running out of a facility into a shoreline treed area to find several AT-ATs attacking them.


01:27 – Whittaker’s voice over has been asking “If you continue to fight, what will you become?”
Fade up to an Imperial tube corridor similar to one from Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. There is a woman in an Imperial uniform that looks to be a cross between a TIE Fighter pilot and the previously mentioned Darktrooper. She turns to camera and it is Jyn Erso. Intrigue!


01:30 – Space; the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story logo rotates on screen. The music has the ominous cellos of the score that’s been playing but adds the Force music on a single piano, played somberly.

And that’s it. Our first look at a Star Wars movie not based around someone named Skywalker.

And I have opinions. Overall, it looks good. Which is a relief. Because I liked director Gareth Edwards’ Monsters but I hated his Godzilla. I think having a writing team like they did here and a producer like Kathleen Kennedy are going to serve him very well.

The tone of the movie seems to be much heavier. And I’m saying that knowing that Episode III dénouements at a guy getting his arms and legs cut off and left in lava. I’m sure there will be some levity in there and it will most likely come from Alan Tudyk’s mocap character which could be the droid seen running with the masses around 01:11.

In terms of design, it’s spot on. But it’s so spot on, that it actually feels like a really high quality fan film. I’m sure they don’t want to hear that but it is inherently weird to have an official Star Wars movie that has no Skywalkers, Kenobis, Organas, Solos, 3POs or R2s.

The story looks interesting. We know the rebels got the plans. I hope that this really is an interesting story worth telling. Otherwise, it will go into my pile of “Prequels we don’t need”.

I hope people will catch on to these movies fast enough that they can drop the “A Star Wars Story” subtitle. It’s cumbersome.

So, yes, I have some slight issues with it but overall, I’m excited to see what happens.

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