Unmissable: With Rogue One on the way, why it’s never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan

Felicity Jones in a scene from a trailer for the new Star Wars anthology film Rogue One. Photo: Star

Felicity Jones in a scene from a trailer for the new Star Wars anthology film Rogue One. Photo: Star Wars/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A few weeks back I blathered on about how much life has been consumed by all things baby in recent times, lamenting how little time I get to enjoy the programmes and trips to the cinema I took for granted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wji-BZ0oCwg

It’s more In the Night Garden and Bing these days than back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones or double-bill trips to the multiplex on a Sunday with Mrs Furniss.

But one thing I have managed to catch this week is the teaser trailer for the next Star Wars movie (yes, there has only just been one, but yes another one is on the way).

The trailer was debuted on US breakfast show Good Morning America and is now online – at under two minutes I am able to squeeze in a quick viewing here and there.

We all know the plot to the original 1977 Star Wars film – unlikely farm boy Luke Skywalker teams up with old warrior Obi-Wan Kenobi and smuggling duo Han Solo and Chewbacca to help a band of rebels, led by Princess Leia, take on the evil empire and destroy its monstrous weapon, the Death star.

An image from a trailer for the new Star Wars anthology film Rogue One. Photo: Star Wars/PA Wire

An image from a trailer for the new Star Wars anthology film Rogue One. Photo: Star Wars/PA Wire - Credit: PA

In the build up to that final assault on the moon-sized menace, the rebels gather together to view secretly stolen plans to the deadly space station, exposing its crucial weakness.

But how did the rebels get hold of those plans? How were the rebel leaders planning on taking down Darth Vader and co before the timely intervention of said farm boy et al?

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Well, we’re about to find out, because that’s the essence of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The film is due out in December, just a year after the long-awaited Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released. It seems like something of a combination of a typical Star Wars adventure, an old fashioned heist movie, and a classic war picture. And the trailer is a cracker, packed with explosions, intriguing new characters and plenty of action.

Notably there will be no Jedi in this film – a first for the Star Wars universe – although don’t rule out an appearance or two from familiar faces (Vader himself is the most oft rumoured cameo, with a mysterious figure in the teaser who could well be the dark lord himself).

It’s directed by Gareth Edwards, who was at the helm of 2014’s enjoyable Godzilla and whose career was launched by the low-budget hit Monsters.

So you wait a decade for a Star Wars movie, then two come along in 12 months.

But for fans of the franchise it’s something we can get used to. There are plans afoot for Disney – the owners of Star Wars these days – to release a movie every year for the foreseeable future.

Each year a “saga” film will be alternated with an “anthology”, or standalone adventure.

This year it’s Rogue One, then in December 2017 it will be Rian Johnson’s as-yet untitled Episode VIII, then in 2018 we get the young Han Solo adventure from the directors of The Lego Movie. In 2019 there will be Episode IX and if you think things will finish there, you clearly know nothing about Disney and modern franchise moviemaking.

So what’s the deal with Rogue One, and who is in it?

Well, the tough young rebel who takes up most of the screen time in the two-minute trailer is Brit actress Felicity Jones, probably best known for her impressive turn in The Theory of Everything.

The 32-year-old received Bafta and Oscar nominations for that performance and is arguably one of the hottest properties in Hollywood right now – her casting was quite a coup for the production.

Coming off the back of Daisy Ridley’s excellent role as Rey in The Force Awakens, young Star Wars fans now have two new takes-no-nonsense leading ladies to look up.

Add in the likes of Ben Mendelsohn (a name you might not know but a face from a hundred films you will surely recognise from an impressive body of work including The Dark Knight Rises, Lena Dunham’s GIRLS and cracking Brit prison drama Starred Up), Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Mexican leading man Diego Luna and Hong Kong action superstar Donnie Yen on board it should have a truly global appeal.

With Mads Mikkelsen – a former Bond villain and star of the brilliant US show Hannibal – also in the mix, this could be the strongest cast ever assembled in the 40 years of Star Wars movies, this being the eighth in that time.

With The Force Awakens due out on download and DVD in the next week or so, it’s never been a better time to be a Star Wars fan.

What do you think? Email me at elliot.furniss@archant.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @Elliot_Furniss

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