I had my plan to post a "Rogue One Expectations" today--and then I decided that I would prefer not to have any expectations for this film. So I deleted the (unwritten) post. Now I'm amending my posting decision: I'm instead simply going to talk about what I think will be different about this movie versus the others and how I'm okay with it being different.
Just as watching Star Wars TV shows and reading Star Wars books prepared me for a stress-free watching of Episode VII (in which I didn't feel like I would be let down if this movie wasn't my favorite out of the seven), it's also prepared me for Rogue One. All of the other films have been part of a continuous story, and Rogue One is sort of just a side story that takes place right in the middle of it all and only has a brief, though still important, connection to the main story. So it's apart from the rest, and I expect that the movie will also feel apart from the rest, not just in its set of characters and its plot but also in its tone and its style.
The question will be, in what ways is it okay for this movie to be different and how similar does it need to be to still fit into the Star Wars universe?
New species of creatures can still have the Star Wars look. New locations can still feel familiar because of the buildings, tools, or technology within them. Visually, I know we'll be getting some of the material from Episode IV to get nostalgic about. I believe I heard that we're getting some new styles of cinematography, which will probably simply be an exciting new lens through which to look at this universe. I'm hoping that, even if the music is different, it won't simply sound like another movie soundtrack--especially not a modern one. Star Wars music has a specific sound that, naturally, harkens back to when the original trilogy was made, and especially given that the timeline of this film goes back to that first movie, I don't want too modern of a sound to the score.
So Rogue One will be a war movie. Okay. That's fine. It is Star Wars after all. And there are battles in all the films, and wars in most of them. If there's a little more attention to the war, that's fine. What I don't want is non-stop fighting. I don't want action scenes all piled on to of one another, even if they're good action scenes (for instance, I love both The Lord of the Rings books and movies and while those films have great battle scenes, I still think that they're much too battle heavy). If we must move from one fight to another, there has to be a thread of humanity constantly in there (which, in fact, they did very well in adding in The Lord of the Rings, for instance again, despite my complaints). Humanity is the heart of Star Wars. Even if there is less of the "use the Force" and "trust the Force" thing in Rogue One, we still need that sense of finding peace within yourself and connecting to others and using that to promote your choice for good.
That is, I don't think that the Force will serve the same role in this film as with the main films. But you know, was I the only one who thought that Catalyst gave hints that Jyn might end up Force-sensitive? (This would actually lend some credence to the theory that Jyn is Rey's mother.) It'll definitely be interesting to watch and see if she does, but I would also enjoy seeing how a movie plays out where none of the protagonists can use the Force.
Really, I haven't said much here. I realize that. I just thought it would be nice to set down some of these thoughts before I see the movie. Probably I'll be seeing it on Saturday because that's just easier--which means I'll have to avoid certain corners of the Internet for a couple of days. My anticipation is really starting to build: I'm just immensely curious to see what Rogue One is like.