A new hope?


There’s going to be a new Star Wars movie in December. Really new, not like that recycled plot line we saw in the last movie.

It’s a Star Wars story that has escaped much of the baggage of the characters and plots of the George Lucas movies? Yes please. Also, the smaller scope (“steal some plans!” rather than “save the galaxy!”) is welcome, as is a character with more personality than “hero”.

I also look forward to the angry tears of the fanboys who discover that it’s another movie that puts a woman protagonist front and center. Don’t you all know that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, gender roles were identical to the traditional expectations of 1950 America?


  1. says

    See… I really don’t mind that it was a complete rehash of A New Hope. I absolutely loved it. :D

    That said, Rogue One looks amazing and I cannot wait for it.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    While a recycled mishmash of episode iV, rebranded as episode VII it still retold the story in a pretty fun way, reinvigorating the franchise to new enthusiasms.
    This new, Rogue One is essentially episode III.5 about how the plans got where Leia was supposed to recover them. Looks even more fun than any of the episodes so far, by telling us about all the ancillary events that lead up to the major, cinematic, events we normally see on the screen.
    Already in line to see.

  3. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    “This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”

    This line worries me. While I like morally ambiguous characters – that’s what Han Solo is, after all – this line suggests your typical “angry, inexperienced and bratty young person who has to learn how to work in a team to achieve their true potential”-plot, which can be incredibly awful when done poorly.
    Also, another prequel? It certainly sounds much more interesting than any of the other ones (or the recent Episode 7), but I really didn’t expect a spin-off prequel or whatever you’d call that before Episode 8 and 9. I kind of want to know where that story goes, too.
    I was also going to inquire about the Bothans! Many died to bring us the plans to the Death Star, after all. Who’s this human?! But then I remembered that many Bothans died to bring us the plans for the second Death Star, not the first.
    It looks interesting – especially the teaser about her potentially joining the Empire, although that’s probably just a ruse – but I’m far too (Mara) jaded to buy into the Star Wars hype anymore.

  4. killyosaur says

    I’m kind of looking forward to a space movie staring Forest Whitaker that doesn’t suck (this may be the one, looks pretty good so far).

  5. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    1) Eeeeeheeheeheeee! :3
    2) Not a recycled plot line? Hmm… infiltrating the Death Star, wearing an Imperial uniform as a disguise (looks like navy this time, but still), AT-ATs… I dunno, there seems to be a fair amount of recycling there. Still, I was delighted by Force Awakens, so as long as there aren’t any Spacemberg rallies in this one, this should be fine.
    3) Mon Mothma! \o/
    4) How many Bothans died to bring us this film? :,<
    5) I'm sure I recognise the lead actor there… who is she?

  6. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    (6) I thought Kyle Katarn ran around aimlessly for half an hour, strafing around, looking for all the world as if his movements were controlled entirely by a keyboard to retrieve the Death Star plans?!
    7) Then, Jan punches the weequay right in the….)

  7. Bernard Bumner says

    Was Star Wars ever a particularly fresh story? It was essentially a synthesis of Arthurian legend, Westerns, and just about every war story. The sci-fi visual design and effects were probably the only really groundbreaking element, but my goodness, they really carried the movie. Empire was the one that really expanded the mythology and gave the story any depth, which is part of the reason that it retcons the first film.

    The Force Awakens was aimed first and foremost at Fans and young people, so a rather nice Greatest Hits served the former very well and the latter probably didn’t particularly notice. Lots of young people may not be that familiar with the original film, since it has has largely disappeared from television schedules and must now be sought out. (When I was growing up, the trilogy was a staple of holiday scheduling.)

    My 9 and 11 year old niece and nephew are fairly nonplussed by Star Wars.

  8. Menyambal says

    In the poster, she has a blaster like Han’s.

    It looks good overall. I still see a liquid-fuel fireball, and I don’t like the voice implying that it’s about character, but it made me tingle.

    I liked the latest one, mostly, but only saw it once and don’t particularly want to see it again.

    (For anybody stereotyping about a female lead, go watch Luke in the first movie.)

  9. Becca Stareyes says

    I supported Episode VII as kind of a safe plot to reassure people wary about the franchise. But now that the creative teams have established they know how to make a good Star Wars movie, I’m glad that they are branching out.

  10. killyosaur says

    @ 12: nope not really. The original trilogy borrowed it’s story, characters and structure heavily fron Akira Kurosawa’s “The Fortress”. It then peppers a lot of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, some references to Roman political systems, and Joseph Campbell hero journey into it. But one can claim that of any story really, pure originality is mostly a myth, everything is influenced and inspired by what came before. The issue with Episode VII isn’t that it isn’t particularly original as a story but that it is not original for a Star Wars story. What made Star Wars unique had more to do with the way Lucas pulled all those pieces together and through the creation of some of the best film effects for the time, made something no one had seen before done as well as it was. I enjoyed the heck out of Ep VII and hated the prequels but I can appreciate what Lucas tried to do with the latter, and understand the criticisms leveled at the former.

  11. Gregory Greenwood says

    Rogue One seems like a pretty good premise for a Star Wars movie, filling in a gap already established as existing within the movie canon – how the rebel Alliance got hold of the plans for the first Death Star that they then entrusted to Leia – but not addressed on the big screen before.

    It certainly seems like a good bet from a studio point of view, being close enough to the established sequence of events from the movie franchise to be sufficiently familiar not to alienate established fans, while being distinct enough to provide opportunities to break new ground without labouring under a stanglehold of established characters and continuity. It also allows the creation of a Star Wars movie that either moves away entirely from the usual elements of the established formula (an unkind observer might even term them crutches) like Jedi, Force powers and light sabres, or approach them in a different fashion, with the Death Star here functioning more as an infiltration target and moon-sized plot MacGuffin rather than object of trench runs and large explosion effects.

    All in all, it might not be the boldest or most radical option, but it does seem to show a willingness on the part of the creators to be flexible and explore other aspects of the fictional universe beyond the well worn paths of the primary continuity movies, something that George Lucas himself seemed to have difficulty achieving. I am cautiously optimistic.

    Still, at least this film has already done something really very fun in concert with the Force Awakens, and that is to flood the intertoobs with yet more angry dude-bro tears over the depiction of yet another capable and assertive female lead and a fairly diverse cast.

  12. says

    I think the rehash was necessary to get the current generation up to speed on the story. Really looking forward rogue 1 and the other thousand movies.

    Also, PZ, I think I remember you saying a while back that you’d welcome a Potter reboot with the protagonist being a female. Then star wars does exactly that, and you’re all “harumph! movies these days!”

  13. rq says

    Funny how a strange world of human-like “aliens” always yields up such white, white people.

  14. rq says

    Also, I bet heavily on her being rescued by the obligatory love interest during the deciding fight at the conclusion of the story. But I have some small hope that this, at least, won’t happen.

  15. kagekiri says

    Woooo, looks like Donnie Yen is actually going to hit people with a stick! Smacking Stormtroopers in the head isn’t just for Ewoks!

    I was scared they were going to do the same thing as Episode 7, where they had two action choreographers/martial arts masters (the two Indonesian stars of The Raid movies) in a cameo where they talk, then run away from a monster.

  16. says

    Really new, not like that recycled plot line we saw in the last movie.

    You mean like the first movie, right?

  17. laurentweppe says

    Don’t you all know that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, gender roles were identical to the traditional expectations of 1950 America?

    Wait, what? 1950 American women were expected to be crack shots capable of going Rambo on fascists with their personal armies of Teddy Bears after having strangled to death libidinous fat mobsters? Where’s the Stargate connecting our universe to yours, my good sir? I’d love to visit that world where the average 1950 housewife was Anita Garibaldi.

  18. wzrd1 says

    I just look at the sheer volume of prequels and wondering how many prequels turn into a Nyquil?

    Let’s have a realistic plotline, the Umpire Strokes out, where the hero is an alert player, who alerts the other heroes in EMS, who properly and swiftly evaluate the stroke and evacuate the umpire to the ED for proper treatment, cholesterol control and blood pressure management.
    Seriously now, put down that trout…

  19. Menyambal says

    The first Star Wars (not the prequels -spit-) was incredibly derivative. And that wasn’t a problem. We all knew the premise – farm kid goes adventuring, meets princess – so we could watch the effects and not be straining at the plot. Lucas said that at the time, more-or-less.

    Lucas was trying to set the old stories in space. He copied WWII films to get the dogfights, he copied the cockpit of a B-29 for the Millennium Falcon, even Han’s blaster was a broom-handle Mauser. It wasn’t supposed to be a surreal drug trip.

    Heck, bits of the first film were cribbed from Japanese films which were imitating John Ford westerns. Those Japanese films were copied almost exactly by Clint Eastwood westerns that were filmed in Italy. (There’s a scene where Clint tears something up with a machete, that made sense only in the samurai film.) So un-original films are not new. (But the recent one was too much recycling.)

    I want to visit the original Star Wars universe again – not the special editions, not the prequels – because I still think it was great, mostly. Yeah, some of that is nostalgia, but some of the stuff has aged well, and there is much to hope for.

  20. Bernard Bumner says

    @16, I know where Lucas took his direct inspiration from. My point still stands.

    Kurosowa heavily referenced the Western genre (yes, in a manner very much reciprocated). The Hidden Fortress is full of Western tropes. The other Kurosawa sources, particularly Seven Samurai, is obviously Western influenced. Star Wars’ dogfights and the Death Star run were taken from The Dam busters and The Guns of Naverone. The Arthurian mythology is an archetype for the hero”s journey in Western literature – Joseph Campbell wrote on it extensively.

    The trilogy has a much better story arc than Star Wars – call it A New Hope if you will, but remember that even that title was a later addition. Empire adds story that wasn’t conceived when the first film was written – Vader wasn’t intended to be Luke”s father. Luke wasn’t intended to be Leia’s brother (even during Empire, obviously).

    The plot of Star Wars, the first movie, is very straightforward, and the story twists all come later in the trilogy. The trilogy was not conceived as a whole, no matter what myths around the product Lucas has allowed to be cultivated since.

  21. jd142 says

    I didn’t mind the plot rehash. It made sense that patterns repeat themselves across time, especially within families with such a strong connection to a mystical force. How many stories have a child repeating the path of the parent?

    Granted, we are rarely sold two different stories with the same plot. We normally just have the child discovering that the parent went down the same path, a few flashbacks, a few scenes to show us how things are different etc.

    David Eddings did it pretty horribly in the Belgariad books. M John Harrison did it wonderfully in Little, Big, which was of course a single book instead of 10(IIRC there were more, but the second 5 rehashed the first 5 to the point where even the characters were remarking on it).

  22. says

    A New Hope has all the elements working together so well into a comprehensible whole. I think TFA just works for most people because there’s action and the characters have personality. And a few moments were done well.

    But the story experience was just not there for me. Somehow most of it seemed very perfunctory. Especially the first while, when I actually thought I was witnessing one of those failed movies that wasn’t finished but merely hit a deadline or something.

    This article has some good points about the difficulty of figuring out why a movie was enjoyed or not. It even mentions the original Star Wars (pardon the all caps):


  23. treefrogdundee says

    Episode VII really HAD to be a rehash of IV. Because after the disappointing debacle that was the prequels, Disney knew they were walking an extremely fine line with the fan base. So they played the safe card and turned out something that was as close as possible to the original to let the fans know that they’ve heard their complaints and intend on capturing that old magic instead of plopping out a by-the-numbers deal which would have destroyed the rest of their $4 billion investment. And they did it very well with solid characters played by talented actors that make you actually care about what happens, as opposed to Hayden Christensen’s soulless and more than a little disturbing dead-eyes.

    On another note, I don’t remember any big issue with the fans over Rey and the presence of a lead female role in Star Wars (Leia was a woman last time I checked and there was no whining there)… certainly not to the degree of the Bitter ‘ol Racists who lost it when a black character was introduced. The only controversy I remember with Rey was the extremely perplexing decision of Hasbro to not include her in the initial line-up. It was only after the FANBOYS pitched a fit that they changed their minds. I think some of you are looking for a manufactured offense here.

  24. says

    @32, Holms

    There will be a sequel to The Force Awakens in 2017, and it’s already started filming. The plan is to have one Star Wars movie every single year up to and including 2020. Half of them will be the main episodes, the others be side stories like this Rogue One movie. You can see the plan on the side panel at the top of the Wikipedia article for Star Wars.

  25. says

    In the poster, she has a blaster like Han’s.

    You mean a 1898 Mauser 9mm with a crappy aluminum doodad and a scope stuck on it?

    I always thought it quite odd to see laser beams coming out of one of those old things. And “magazines” that don’t involve a cycling action and which aren’t obviously batteries. … At least games like Mass Effect and Halo have tried to do some kind of consistent-looking design. Why does Star Wars still suck so hard?

  26. magistramarla says

    In our family, there was no need to bring the younger generation up to speed on Star Wars. They were already there.
    My son-in-law is a huge Star Wars fan, and he taught his young step-son all about the films. The two of them bonded while building Star Wars themed lego sets together.
    There are now two little sisters, and the son-in-law’s eyes lit up with pride when the three year old pretended that her toy was a light saber and that she was a Jedi. When we took her to see Santa this year and he asked her what she wanted, she nearly shouted “The new Star Wars movie!”.
    That is only one family of grandchildren. The others are also well aware of Star Wars, although the 11 year old prefers Dr. Who and the 6 year old is into Marvel super heroes. The little guy in Houston still hasn’t developed a preference.
    Grandma and Grandpa happily take them to see the films and buy them the toys and collectibles.
    I really wish that there was another Star Trek movie being made. The best Mother’s Day ever was planned by my oldest grandson. He arranged for the family to take Grandma to see the newest Star Trek film and then to a lovely Italian restaurant for lunch.
    We are very much a family of Sci-fi geeks.

  27. Menyambal says

    Marcus Ranum, yeah, that’s the pistol.

    I really don’t know how much of Star Wars was intended to evoke familiar tropes, and how much was just low-budget prop kludging. The big walkers were modeled on elephant walking, at some expense, while other departments were just sent to collect junk and make it work. I’m not enough of a geek to rattle off the parts used for Luke’s lightsaber, but I know no part was made, just taken from camera grips and such, and pop-riveted together.

    I kinda liked Han’s blaster being a Broom-handle, but when a pod-racer had familiar jet engines, I balked. The context and the movie made a difference, I guess.

  28. says

    I really don’t know how much of Star Wars was intended to evoke familiar tropes, and how much was just low-budget prop kludging.

    I chalk it up to unoriginality. But that’s how films were made in those days. Except for, you know, the good ones (ALIEN, Blade Runner, Silent Running…) Star Wars was basically cheesy lame and has enshrined it. Now they probably can’t move away from it because it’d make the older stuff look obviously stupid.

    PS – for those who don’t know, the stormtroopers’ blasters are brit-made lanchester 9mm submachine guns with the folding stock removed and bottle caps and crap glued to it. And don’t even get me started as to why Chewbacca is carrying a Barnett Commando crossbow with bottle caps and crap glued to it.

  29. taraskan says

    @15 But that isn’t how the film industry works. If you are successful playing broad strokes and cutting corners with your rewrites, that’s what you keep doing. It would have had to tank to get the results you’re expecting.

    @30 But there are no strengths to JJ Abrams….or his lackey hack writing partner Damon Lindelof.

    The director they’ve got for Rogue One, Gareth Edwards, I’m a little torn about. Monsters (2010) was imaginative and character-driven, and had only one bad scene, which was more of a geography mistake. Godzilla was just noise, though. Awful, awful noise, in addition to being poorly written and miscasted.

    Trailer for Rogue One is one of the better trailers I’ve seen in a while, though, so a new hope indeed. I hope they keep the intelligent music, where they subsume the original theme into something new and less bombastic.

    I’d echo the derivative nature of Force Awakens, but the problem was far deeper than that. It’s worst failing is that it stopped progressing from one scene to another in a logical way. Halfway through, we have no idea what is going on, where any planet is in relation to any other, or who is gaining on who. For example, it suggests every planet so far encountered and several others are in the same system, that the beam that’s destroying them (the beam that’s faster than light) can be simultaneously observed not only from multiple other planets, but at the time it is being used. It suggests it takes the entire energy of a star to power the weapon, the weapon that was just used three times in quick succession a few hours before….they didn’t need the sun then did they? Shouldn’t they have needed three stars? But the base hasn’t moved…what the hell? Did they know they’d only get about five ‘shots’ before they had to build a new base around another star? That planet is frosty, but looks like it’s still earth temperature, so in 8 minutes won’t they all freeze to death? I’m sure neither Lucas nor Roddenberry could point to a black hole on a star chart, but at least they had the good sense not to play with big words they didn’t understand or couldn’t wikipedia when it came to linearizing the plot or basic scene blocking, space opera style. It isn’t the supernerd you need to write for, it’s the fifth grader in the theater. And fifth graders know this is a discontinuous piece of crap that breaks both the laws of our universe and its own’s.

    You don’t get to hand wave that kind of piss poor writing. When a film creator thinks his audience has the brains of a mongoose, we should return the favor. In fairness, it’s par for the course with that man.

  30. Bernard Bumner says

    @39, love it or hate it, you can’t credit Abrams alone with the writing – Lawrence Kasdan co-wrote it. (Lindelof had nothing to do with it.)

  31. Anri says

    Did anyone else find the soundtrack (in particular that wailing alarm) to be more than vaguely reminiscent of the old Alien trailer?

    Not a criticism, mind you, just struck me as familiar.

  32. drst says

    @Saganite #6 and Athywren @ 8 and anyone else mentioning the Bothans: WRONG MOVIE. The Bothans stole the plans for the second Death Star that was destroyed in “Return of the Jedi.” The initial plans, the ones Leia was smuggling to the Rebellion when her ship was attacked over Tatooine, were the plans for the original Death Star that Luke destroyed at the end of the first film. We’ve never been told how those plans were acquired and got into Leia’s hands, which is the story “Rogue One” will be telling.

  33. Vivec says

    I enjoyed the Force Awakens, and I’ll probably enjoy this too. Sure, it was A New Hope 2.0, but it’s still my second favorite movie in the franchise.

    I loved A New Hope, thought Empire was decent, and hated everything released after Empire (real talk, fuck Ewoks). Force Awakens gets second place by virtue of copying the best movie in the franchise (IMO anyways)

  34. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @drst, 42
    I didn’t ask how many Bothans died to recover the Death Star plans. I asked how many died to recover this historical holocron, which is an entirely different issue. Besides, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that Bothans die on a regular basis – sure, Mon Mothma informs us of their deaths in a deeply emotional way, but also in a “just like last Tuesday, when we sent them for pizzas” kind of way.

  35. Menyambal says

    So much canon. I feel a lot less geeky after a peek at Wookiepedia. So the high-priestess looking lady is Mon Mothma – I could have been happier not knowing that.

    She’s back in Rogue One, and yeah, she was in on the second Death Star fight. It was in Jedi, then, that she spoke the died-for-the-plans line. So we may have a time for Rogue One. And I have a plot.

    It could be at the time leading up to New Hope and Death Star I, with Mothma in by coincidence, of course. But I’m going off what sounds like the Imperial March, which wasn’t instituted ’til after Hope. And by what Mothma says.

    Here’s the key. It wasn’t “Many Bothans died”, or even “Manny Bothanes” (-snerk-), it was “Minnie Bothans”. Rogue One is the story of Minnie, the woman who stole the plans for Death Star II. I don’t know if Minnie was her real name, or her code name, but Ms Bothans (Bawthinz? Bahthnz?) either dies at the end of the movie, or Mothma sends her back to deep cover and fakes her death for propaganda purposes.

    My point is that Rogue One, Minni Bohdins (Mini Bahthenz?), is going to be Rey’s mom. Somewhere in this movie, maybe, we will see the encounter that leads to Rey, that thief and scavenger, being born from the lead in this film.

    Rey’s mom dying or changing identity fits in the Star Wars formula, and everybody seems to be related. Or at least twisted together by plots.

    So who’s the daddy? Obviously, it has to be either Darth Vader or his son Luke. Luke may have had a chance, but seems to lack interest, so I’m saying Vader. “Vader” means “father” in a language that seems to have given several names to the franchise, so him being a dad again makes sense. And makes Rey into Luke’s half-sister, and strong in the Force.

    So if Vader and Rogue One (I’m sorry, I didn’t catch her name as said in the trailer, and it could be fake – or is Mni Bhothns fake?) get together, it may be her being all Mata Hari, or him being all creepy and prequels-Anakin. (Anakin’s mother was Shmi, so a woman named Mni might set him off.)

  36. Menyambal says

    Okay, I just listened to the trailer on better speakers. She gives her name as “Jin Osso” or “Gin Blossom”, maybe. And there was no Imperial March. And Mothma says it is “new”.

    And there was no superstar destroyer. So I’m calling this as about the first Death Star.

    My previous comment still stands. And my “Mni Bohthnz” plot makes even more sense. In Rogue One, she steals the plans that Leia later hides in R2-D2. She gets little recognition for that, and does it again for Death Star II, but dies in the doing. Mon Mothma’s announcement now makes sense, and goes over flat because nobody but her really knows what she is saying – it only matters to her.

    Mni/Jin may have met Luke after the first Death Star, and they may have celebrated together. Or she may have met Vader back when he was just an angry young side character.

  37. wzrd1 says

    Ah, but eventually, the Empire will have a new pistol, the P08, with a battery in the 40 watt parabellum range or something.
    Just to show advances in technology, maybe they’ll add pop can tabs to the thing, like they did with bottle caps on earlier models.

    Oh well, it beat Star Trek’s dust buster phasers.

  38. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Honestly, I’m a little worried that instead of a personality of “hero”, we may just end up with a personality of merely “angry” (which has been a common Hollywood choice when trying to make an “edgy” character, especially when it comes to women protagonists). I hope I’m proven wrong.

  39. bladesman says

    Would just like to point out for the benefit of the people talking about the poster PZ attached to this post…that’s not an official poster. It’s a fan-made one done by cosplayer Scruffy Rebel well before the film even started shooting. And Felicity Jones’ character is called Jyn Erso. :)