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What You Need to Know About STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE

Lucasfilm announced release dates for the first Star Wars spinoff and Star Wars: Episode VIII on Thursday. Here's what you need to know about Star Wars: Rogue One.

Up until this point, Star Wars on the big screen has been limited to the actual episodes. Between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, we got six Star Wars movies that (when viewed in episode order) chronologically told the story of Anakin Skywalker. Star Wars: Episode VII will hit theaters this December and is going by the title Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they announced that in addition to a sequel trilogy, we'd be getting Star Wars spinoff movies. Star Wars: Rogue One is the first of these spinoffs.

What's Star Wars: Rogue One about?
Good question. Lucasfilm didn't say much about the film's plot during its Thursday announcement, only saying that "Rogue One is the title for the first film in a unique series of big-screen adventures that explores the characters and events beyond the core Star Wars saga."

The Rogue brand does have a place in Star Wars history, though, previously being the call sign of Luke Skywalker's group of pilots in The Empire Strikes Back and the title of a comics series and video game in the now-defunct Expanded Universe. There have also been reports over the past few months that one of the Star Wars standalone movies would be called Red Five. Did the sources behind that rumor get its X-Wing call signs mixed up? Will Star Wars: Rogue One really be about an X-Wing pilot?

Who's starring in Star Wars: Rogue One?
We've known for about a month now that Felicity Jones won the coveted female lead in the first Star Wars spinoff, beating out actresses like Rooney Mara, Kate Mara and Tatiana Maslany for the part. Jones recently scored an Oscar Best Supporting Actress nomination for The Theory of Everything. The actress should have been on your radar since she wowed the film festival crowd with 2011's Like Crazy. She also had a small part in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 that could have turned into playing the Black Cat had Sony not killed that franchise.

Lucasfilm's press release on Thursday called Jones the "first actress cast" — not the film's lead. That doesn't mean Jones isn't Star Wars: Rogue One's lead actress, but this wording should give fans pause.

Let's assume Jones is the movie's lead. Is she playing a female X-Wing pilot? The first six Star Wars movies didn't have much in the way of female pilots. Lucasfilm has been trying to turn around its long-running lack of female characters — Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, bringing Star Wars: The Clone Wars favorite Ahsoka Tano into Star Wars Rebels. Casting Jones to be a badass X-Wing pilot would be a great move on Lucasfilm's part.

Who's directing Star Wars: Rogue One?
Lucasfilm announced that Gareth Edwards would be directing the formerly untitled Star Wars standalone movie last May.

For Edwards, landing the first Star Wars spinoff continues his rise to fame. The director's career began with the acclaimed small-budget pic Monsters. Edwards spun that movie into directing the Godzilla reboot, which scored a 74 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed over $200 million at the domestic box office. Star Wars: Rogue One will be the third movie Edwards has directed, an impressive streak.

When does Star Wars: Rogue One hit theaters?
Star Wars: Rogue One opens on Dec. 16, 2016.
What You Need to Know About STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 3/12/2015 Rating: 5

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