Star Wars fans are counting down the days until Disney and Lucasfilm's first Anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, arrives. Since its announcement, the rumor mill has been churning with possible cast members, likely villains, and the inner-workings of the first non-Skywalker-based Star Wars film. Reports of a "no Jedi" war film certainly didn't sound particularly Star Wars, which is why the teaser trailer provided an important first look.
Director Gareth Edwards' new vision for the franchise was a spectacle to behold: darker, more intense, less fantastical, and yet very Star Wars. After the trailer dropped, many fans recorded reaction videos, following the fashion of our times. But what would it look like if the ILM animators watched fans watching the trailer for the first time?
In a new video (watch it above) the visual effects staff at world renowned special effects house Industrial Light and Magic enjoy the fruits of their labor unfold in front of Star Wars devotees from around the globe. Although the fan reactions are infectious, the best part of the video is watching the VFX staff. As the Star Wars lovers ogle the teaser, comment, and break out in goosebumps, the ILM crew laughs, marvel, and grins at their euphoric reactions to Rogue One.
The true revelations for the crew arrived when the reel switches to a fan-based breakdown of the special effects. A sense of pride permeates the room as reaction after reaction expounds the realistic nature of the effects. In particular, fans identified the Death Star construction clip (with its looming Star Destroyer) and the AT-AT beachhead battle as major highlights. Most importantly, almost every reaction video ended with a desire to re-watch the trailer – a fitting testament to the ILM animators, who worked long hours to ensure the trailer arrived on time and up to snuff.
The teaser trailer was merely a brief glimpse at the film in progress, but it provided a first look at the overall artistic, visual, and cinematic feel of the film. Edwards and his team may be trying to escape some of the franchise tropes, but they haven’t lost that certain special feeling which elevates a science fiction flick into a Star Wars movie. Even if Rogue One is a war film wrapped in a Star Wars shell, the trailer captured the same epic scale and visual flair which embodies the magic of the franchise. Even at first glance, the ILM crew is to be commended.
Of course, reaction videos are always a little skewed. Star Wars devotees are more likely to be enthusiastic about footage from an upcoming Star Wars film than the general public. However, few areas of fandom are as hyper-critical about their created universes as Star Wars devotees (just ask J.J. Abrams) and so far, public and fan reactions have been positive. By moving away from established conventions, Edwards has undertaken a challenging task. His successes (or failures) will impact the direction of the franchise for years to come.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will see theatrical release in the U.S. on December 16th, 2016, followed byStar Wars: Episode VIII on December 15th, 2017; the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018; Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019; and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.