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Rogue One, A New Take and New Technology

Background

This 2016 release has an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes[i] and a 7.8 rating on the International Movie Database[ii]. It was nominated for Academy Awards in Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.[iii] The movie cost $200 million to make and has made over a billion dollars at the box office.[iv]

The movie makes some amazing technical achievements. These achievements bring up ethical and legal questions. It also brings up the old question of “it can be done but should it be done”?

While I have seen the Star Wars movies and some of the television shows I am not an expert on the Star Wars genre. Some of my interpretations of Rogue One may be different from the Star Wars canon. The movie ends moments before the original Star Wars movie, “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, begins. This article contains spoilers on “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”.


[i] Rotten Tomatoes, https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rogue_one_a_star_wars_story, last accessed 5/5/19.

[ii] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/reference, last accessed 5/5/19.

[iii] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/awards, last accessed 5/5/19.

[iv] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/reference, last accessed 5/5/19.

This 2016 release has an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes[i] and a 7.8 rating on the International Movie Database[ii]. It was nominated for Academy Awards in Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.[iii] The movie cost $200 million to make and has made over a billion dollars at the box office.[iv]

The movie makes some amazing technical achievements. These achievements bring up ethical and legal questions. It also brings up the old question of “it can be done but should it be done”?

While I have seen the Star Wars movies and some of the television shows I am not an expert on the Star Wars genre. Some of my interpretations of Rogue One may be different from the Star Wars canon. The movie ends moments before the original Star Wars movie, “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”, begins. This article contains spoilers on “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope”.


[i] Rotten Tomatoes, https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rogue_one_a_star_wars_story, last accessed 5/5/19.

[ii] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/reference, last accessed 5/5/19.

[iii] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/awards, last accessed 5/5/19.

[iv] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/reference, last accessed 5/5/19.

The Plot

Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) wants Galen Erso (Mads Kikkelsen) to return to serving The Empire. Galen isn’t proud of his service and doesn’t want to serve The Empire. Galen has no choice and agrees to serve The Empire in building the ultimate weapon, The Death Star. His child, Jyn Erso (Beau Gadsdon), goes into hiding.

The movie flash forwards to the movie’s present time. The Death Star is ready for deployment. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is a woman. She knows the evil of The Empire but she doesn’t trust the Rebel Alliance. Jyn crosses paths with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel spy, and his droid K-2DO (Alan Tudyk). Cassian is on a mission that involves a defecting Empire pilot, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). Bodhi has information about the latest Empire weapon, which can destroy a planet. The question for Cassian and the rebels is if Bodhi’s defection is real or an imperial trick. The information about the weapon is from Galen Erso who designed it which adds to rebel suspicion. Jyn believes her father would try to frustrate the Empire’s plans.

This band brings word to the Rebel Alliance leadership about the Death Star. The leadership is divided over how to respond to this threat. Jyn makes an impassioned speech calling for action. Her speech changes no one’s mind. Some leaders want action and others want to disperse the forces. Jyn decides she will attempt to get the plans to the Death Star. A small band of rebels join with Jyn.

Perceptions and Questions

“Rogue One” doesn’t have any light sabre duels. The heroic characters are skilled fighters but they aren’t Jedi Knights. Jyn uses some acrobatics but nothing that implies mystical powers. One hero, Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) used the phrase “I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” It seems ambiguous if the character is using the Force or applying the words as a prayer as he does a dangerous deed. The Rebels outfight the Imperial troops but the fighting is not one sided. The movie points out the Rebels also perform morally questionable acts. This is much different than the original “Star Wars” where the Empire was evil and the Rebels were good.

The jockeying for position of the Empire’s leadership in the original “Star Wars” is also depicted in “Rogue One”.[i] Orson Krennic is always concerned, with good reason, Governor Tarkin is trying to deny him credit for his accomplishments. In one scene Darth Vader (James Earl Jones[ii]), as he is causing Krennic to choke, warns, “Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.”

Often in films a character mentions the movie’s title. This is the first Star Wars film where this happens. When asked for a call sign Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) blurts out “This is Rogue One.” The movie also alludes to the title of the original Star Wars movie, “A New Hope”. A pilot asks Princess Leia, “What is that they’ve sent us?” Princess Leia replies, “Hope”.

Guy Henry plays Governor Tarkin but viewers see the image of the late Peter Cushing, who played Tarkin in the original “Star Wars” movie. Ingvild Deila plays Princess Leia but viewers see the image of the late Carrie Fisher as she appeared in the original “Star Wars” movie. The movie also digitally cut some of the deleted footage of Rebel pilots from the original “Star Wars” and used it in “Rogue One”.[iii]

Using CGI to replace an actor with another actor’s image isn’t new. This has been done in the Terminator series. It is also a case of life imitating art. In the 1987 film “The Running Man”, set in 2019, a television network uses ground breaking software to show a different character’s image to the audience.

The technology is improving and it opens the door to many possibilities. It could correct the problem of the “obvious stunt double”. Often times sequels can’t be made at the optimal time because one or more of the lead actors are busy on other projects. This technology could make the image of leading actors available for sequels. Sometimes leading actors in a series with numerous sequels look too old for the part. This technology could make live action movie characters as ageless as cartoon characters.

As with other technologies this does give an opening for abuse. Could a cleverly written contract enable a production company to make many sequels using an actor’s image with little or no compensation to the actor? Could a production company buy the rights to an actor’s image and use the actor’s image in perpetuity?

[i] Darth Vader wasn’t the undisputed person just below the Emperor in the original Star Wars. He became that because he survived the Death Star’s destruction.

[ii] James Earl Jones was the voice of Darth Vader. Spencer Wilding and Daniel Naprous played the character.

[iii] International Movie Database, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3748528/trivia, last accessed 5/12/19.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Robert Sacchi

Comments

Robert Sacchi (author) on November 02, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. A criticism I've heard with the latest Terminator movies is Arnold Schwarzenegger is really too old to play the part. He not the first or the only actor who got too old for a franchise. It will be interesting to see if there are winners and losers from this technology.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on November 02, 2019:

You laid out the pros and cons of using this new technology when making movies. Actors and actresses will have to be really smart when it comes to signing contracts. As to Rogue One, I have not seen this particular movie.

Robert Sacchi (author) on June 15, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. It will be interesting to track how the this technology is used. James Bond movies are definitely ones to watch in this area. It's a very long running genre, arguably the longest.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on June 14, 2019:

Robert

Enjoyed the writeup. I haven't seen the movie, but heard much of the plot.

I'm wondering if they're going to do something similar with the next Bind movie as Daniel Craig was injured recently and yesterday they announced that it's delayed production as Remi Malek won't be available when they can start filming again!

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 21, 2019:

You're Welcome and thanks for following.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 20, 2019:

It is well appreciated. Thanks.

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 20, 2019:

Thank you both for reading and commenting. At this point I wouldn't put anything beyond the reach of technological advances. There are voice impersonators. In The Curse of the Pink Panther they used famed voice impersonator Rich Little for some of David Niven's lines.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 19, 2019:

Noted, please.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 19, 2019:

I especially liked the ethical question you raised. It makes me wonder if they do this with images, how effectively can they do it with voices which change over a lifespan? Some voices are so remarkable that it’s hard to imagine they’d be able to imitate them with computer effects.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 19, 2019:

Noted, please and thanks.

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 19, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. The Star Wars genre has played a large part in pushing the special effects. When Lucas made the original Star Wars they had to create much of the special effects from next to nothing.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 19, 2019:

This is a great review. Remembering, as I do the first ever Star Wars film way back and the way we appreciated the special effects then, your article makes me appreciate how far special effects have advanced since then with CGI.

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 19, 2019:

Thank you both for reading and commenting. My movie watching has also been spotty over the years. I didn't see Rogue One until I watched it on television. I was favorably impressed by the movie. The ending took me by surprise.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 19, 2019:

Hi, Robert, thanks for the input. I appreciated that.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on May 19, 2019:

This is an excellent review of a movie I haven't seen. My husband and I used to go to the movies, but we don't get there very often anymore undortunately. This movie sure seems worth watching. Thanks.

Robert Sacchi (author) on May 18, 2019:

Thank you for reading and commenting. I like that they showed a more 3 dimensional view of the Rebels and their leadership in Rogue One. In the original Star Wars, Darth Vader was not the recognized character one step below the Emperor. He became that because he was the only bad guy who didn't die at the end of the movie.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on May 18, 2019:

Hi, Robert, thanks for sharing. I think leadership is much a question among the characters.

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