We’re in the dog days of August, and so far this summer movie season has been a colossal bust. Some are wondering if it’s the worst ever. Tentpole superhero movies like Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse have disappointed, while essentially all of this year’s buzzy sequels, reboots, and remakes have performed poorly with audiences and critics. The film industry is on pace to sell the fewest total tickets in two decades.
But then, as if it heard our cries of despair, another Star Wars movie has come to make us excited about the movies again.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story—the first in a series of Star Wars anthology films—dropped a new, full-length trailer on NBC during the Olympics last night, and it looks stunning. The keyword here is looks: the film’s cinematography is hauntingly beautiful, reminiscent of some classic war films, except, you know, this one’s in space.
Rogue One, which will be released Dec. 16 in the US, takes place directly before A New Hope. It’s led by two visual virtuosos in director Gareth Edwards, who directed the recent Godzilla reboot, and cinematographer Greig Fraser, who’s responsible for the fantastic photography in Let Me In, Zero Dark Thirty, and Foxcatcher.
One shot in particular (at 1:38 in the trailer, and shown below, third from the bottom), of a ship flying through some kind of epic storm, looks a lot like the first half of this trailer for Edwards’s Godzilla (video), which portrays with terrible beauty a team of HALO jumpers plunging through the ashen sky, toward a city ravaged by the titular beast.
If this trailer is any indication, Rogue One will be darker, grittier, and more grounded than the average Star Wars movie. Edwards said the film is “morally grey,” and will meditate on the “nature of war.”
The movie underwent a series of reshoots amid rumors that Disney, which owns Lucasfilm, wanted it to be less of a war movie and more lighthearted in tone. Both Disney and Edwards have denied that’s the case. Unless the movie is drastically different from this trailer, then it would appear all that hoopla was unfounded. This movie might be quite moody, but it’s also gorgeous.
Here are some of the striking images from the trailer: