7 Exciting Things Revealed at the Rogue One Press Event

15492288_682061088641950_2118591643326045265_nLucasfilm invited members of the global press to a two day extravaganza showcasing their upcoming movie Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Here are some hints to what is in store for fans when the movie hits theaters on December 16, 2016.

1) There is no opening crawl.

Rogue One is the first standalone movie from Lucasfilm, and it will explore a story about everyday people, as opposed to Force-using Sith and Jedi. The opening crawl of A New Hope, the beginning of Luke Skywalker’s adventure, tells of rebels who have stolen the Death Star plans now in the possession of Princess Leia Organa. Rogue One is the story about the team who steals those plans; this is the movie buried within A New Hope’s opening crawl. Despite missing the crawl, there are still very familiar elements from the opening of Star Wars movies: space, a planet, an Imperial shuttle heading toward it…

2) Real life inspiration for this war story

Gareth Edwards said that early conceptual work for the movie included taking real life war time images and Photoshopping Rebel helmets on the soldiers. The result is a film that fully reflects what it is like to be a soldier in the trenches. Top that off with ILM’s spectacular special effects of X-wings and Imperial walkers, combined with incredible sound design, and Rogue One makes a truly visceral experience. With that said, I would recommend parents consider screening this movie before taking young children. The moral complexities of war are not glossed over.

3) George Lucas seal of approval

After Kathleen Kennedy nodded her approval when Edwards was asked about George Lucas, the director cautioned that he didn’t want to put words in the Star Wars creator’s mouth. Edwards, a self-professed Star Wars fanboy, smiled and said that after talking to Lucas, “I can honestly say that I can die happy now. He really liked the movie.”

4) In the shadow of Darth Vader

Actor Ben Mendelsohn, who plays the villainous Director Krennic, had a fanboy moment while filming with Darth Vader. After asking to step aside and speak with Gareth Edwards, the two shared an incredulous exchange about shooting a scene with the iconic film bad guy. Being professionals they recovered quickly. Mendelsohn’s character Krennic oversees the Death Star construction, but is nowhere to be found in A New Hope.

5) Cast Clown

Alan Tudyk is probably best known for playing Wash in the Firefly television series and the tie-in film Serenity. You’ve likely heard him more than you realize; he is the voice behind some funny animated characters, including King Candy (Wreck-it Ralph), the Duke of Weselton (Frozen), and Hei Hei (Moana). Rogue One may be a war story, but Star Wars has a tradition of droids providing comic relief into the darkest moments for its heroes. Tudyk’s K-2SO is an Imperial droid, reprogrammed by intelligence officer Cassian Andor played by Diego Luna. During the press event Tudyk let the zingers fly and revealed a good portion of his dialogue was improvised on set.

rogue-one-chirrut-imwe-donnie-yen6) Who needs the Force to win a fight with a Stormtrooper?

From the footage revealed this past weekend, a lack of Force-ability doesn’t stop Felicity Jone’s Jyn Erso or Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe from defeating a horde of troopers on their own. You might have spotted Erso’s skill with a baton in the clip above, but after calming walking into a squad of troopers intent on capturing Jyn and Cassian, Chirrut brings an exciting new layer to Star Wars stunt choreography with a stand-out martial arts sequence in which he is the last man standing.

7) The Force is strong in this movie

Jyn and Chirrut bring an interesting new angle to the Star Wars universe in that they believe in the Force despite not being able to use it like a Jedi. At the beginning of the movie, Jyn’s mother Lyra passes a kyber crystal necklace on to her daughter, telling her to “Trust the Force.” On Jedha, a world important to the formation of the Jedi Order, Jyn meets blind Chirrut after he senses her necklace hidden under her clothes. Kyber crystals powered Jedi lightsabers and are now being harvested by the Empire on Jedha. If they could power a lightsaber, imagine what large amounts of the crystals could do on the Death Star.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 16th. Tickets are available for pre-order now.

Check out secrets from my visit to Skywalker Ranch.

Tricia Barr is author of Ultimate Star Wars and the upcoming Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia.

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